Location: Bandipur, 80 km from Mysore
Best time to visit :March - August
Nearest Access: Mysore & Ooty (80-kms)
Halfway down the Mysore-Ooty highway, the Deccan Plateau rises to meet the wrinkled folds of the Western Ghat mountains. Here lies one of India's best-known wildlife reserves - Bandipur National Park. It is situated within Chamarajanagar district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, and abuts the states of Tamil Nadu & Kerala. Endowed with a moderate climate and diverse geographical features, the park supports a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, making it a veritable paradise for wildlife. In 1973, Bandipur became one of the first of India's Tiger Reserves and the southernmost of the nine reserves specially established under Project Tiger. In 1974, intention was declared under the Wildlife Protection Act to notify it as a National Park.
Flora & Fauna
The scrub jungles towards the eastern limits of the park consist of stunted trees, interspersed with bushes and open grassy patches. Towards its northwestern fringes, there is a gradual shift in the vegetation from open dry deciduous forests to tropical mixed deciduous forests. These diverse habitats support an enormous diversity of animal life. With the onset of pre-monsoon showers in April, Bandipur begins to unfold in all its glory. The resident birds commence their breeding activities. The air is filled with their melodious calls. Sprouting grass in the meadows and view lines attract elephants and the majestic gaur in large numbers. For the tourist who comes to watch the larger mammals in their natural surroundings, Bandipur is a paradise from April to October. Even before this, during summer, when dryness prevails over most parts of Bandipur, the backwaters of the Kabini Reservoir in the northwestern portion of the park host huge congregations of large mammals, especially the elephant and the gaur. This unique feature makes a breathtaking spectacle, and is almost the only one of its kind in
The region is warm and comfortable for most parts of the year with temperatures ranging from 24 to 28°C, except for the brief winter that lasts from October to January when the temperature hovers around the 19°C mark. Monsoon is erratic, but it generally rains from June to September.
The nearest railhead is Nanjangud, 55 km away, while the nearest roadhead is the town of Gundulpet, 20 km from Bandipur. Both are, however, fairly small places, with few transport connections to the rest of the state. A better idea, therefore, would be to arrive at Bandipur via Mysore or Ooty. Bandipur is 80 km from Mysore, and a similar distance from Ooty, and takes 2 ½ hours by road. Mysore is further connected to the rest of south India by train, while a narrow gauge train comes to Ooty from the plains station of Mettupalayam. Mettupalayam has train connections to a number of other towns in Tamilnadu. Once you’ve got to Mysore or Ooty, you can take a bus or hire a car or taxi to get to Bandipur. Private vehicles are not allowed to tour the park, so buses abound, rumbling and roaring their way around, drowning out any chance of seeing animals. Better options for getting around in the park are the forest department jeeps and vans. The Forest Department also organises elephant rides of about an hour (or more) each, which take you deeper into the forest than you’d otherwise be able to go. At Bandipur, you can book a machan near a watering hole for the best viewing of all.