Nagarhole national park (NNP), the enchanting 247 square-mile park in
Karnataka has an astonishing abundance of wildlife including large mammals
such as tiger, leopard, wild elephant, dhole (Indian wild dog), and gaur
(Indian bison). Other species present are chital spotted deer, muntjac
(barking deer), mouse deer, four-horned antelope, wild boar, sloth bear,
hyena, mongoose, civet, otter, and more. The landscape is one of gentle
slopes and shallow valleys. Dry deciduous forest trees are leafless in the
summer rather than in the winter. There are grassy swamps where the soil is
clayey, perennially moist, and which support a luxuriant growth of green
grass all year. The change in terrain throughout the park in refreshing and
the river system provides a unique wildlife viewing experience.
Nagarhole National park derives its name from the combination of two
Kannada words. 'Nagar,' meaning snake, and 'hole,' meaning streams. True to
its name, quite a few serpentine streams fork through the rich tropical
forests of the park. Nagarhole Park was set up in 1955. In 1975, its area
was increased to include a greater expanse of forest reserve. The original
forest was once an exclusive hunting ground for the erstwhile Maharajas of
Mysore. The park has been recently renamed as Rajiv Gandhi NationalPark
after the late Prime Minister of India.
Nagarhole National Park is counted among India. s best wildlife parks. It
has a large elephant and bison population. It also hosts a variety of animal
species along with approximately 250 species of birds. On its northern
confines is the Kabini River and on its southern fringes is the Bandipur
national park. A dam on the Kabini River and its picturesque reservoir
demarcates the two national parks. During the dry season (February. June),
this artificial lake attracts a large number of animals, making it an ideal
spot for sighting wildlife.
summer (March. May) temperature does not cross the 33°C mark. The brief
winter, which lasts from November to January, has temperature plummeting to
14°C. Monsoon is erratic, but it generally rains from June to
Flora The predominant vegetation in the Nagarhole National Park is of
southern tropical, moist, mixed deciduous type with a substantial eastern
portion intergrading into dry deciduous type. The upper tree canpy is
dominated by Terminalia tomentosa is association with Tectonia grandis,
Dalbergia latifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Lagerstroemia lanceolata,
Anogeissus latifolia, Adina cordifolia, Boambax malabaricum, Schleichera
trijuga, Ficus sp. and others. The lower canopy has Kydia calycina, Emblica
officinalis, Gmelina arborea etc. Several shrubs belonging to Solanum,
Desmodium and Helicteres sp. etc. are abundantly found but weedy shrubs like
Eupatorium and Lantana now dominate.
The important predators and carnivora in the Nagarhole National Park are
tiger, leopard, wild dog (dhole or Cuon alpinus), sloth bear and the hyena
(Hyaena hyaena). The herbivores are spotted deer, sambar, barking deer,
four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), gaur (Bos gaurus), wild boar
(Sus scrofa) and elephant. Nagarhole National Park provides an opportunity
to see some of the southern population of Gaur (jungle Bison). Also, this
park in Karnataka is a good place to see elephants in the luxuriant forests
and bamboo thickets which they most enjoy. Their total population in
southern India is now about 6500, nearly all living in the area where
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala adjoin in the shadow of the Western Ghats.
Other mammalian miscallany includes the common langur (Presbytes entellus),
Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), jungle cat, slender Loris (Loris
tadigradus), leopard-cat (Felis bengalensis), civet cat (Viverricula indica
and Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), mongoose (Herpestes fuscus and Herpestes
vitticollis), common otter (Lutra lutra), giant flying squirrel (Petaurista
petaurista), giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), porcupine, jackal, mouse-deer
(Tragulus meminna), hare and pangolin (Manis crassicaudata). Over 250
species of birds are found at Nagarhole National Park. Besides the enormous
variety of woodland birds, there are large congregations of water fowl in
the Kabini river. Birds range from blue-bearded bee-eater, scarlet minivet
and Malabar whistling thrush to the more common ospreys, herons and ducks.
Among reptiles, the marsh crocodile, monitor lizard, rock python and
several other species are represented. Aquatic and terrestrial tortoises,
frogs, toads and tree frogs and a myriad insects, including some very
colourful butterflies, adorn this lovely southern jungle of India.
How to Reach Nagarhole National park
Nagarhole National park is well connected to adjoining areas of Karnataka.
Motorable highways link the park to the towns of Madikere (90 km) and Mysore
(96 km) . The journey from both places lasts approximately 2 hours. The
nearest well-connected railway junction is Mysore, while the nearest
international airport is Bangalore (220 km). Various airlines link Bangalore
to the rest of the nation.
Where to Stay in Nagarhole
The Forest Department manages two rest houses, but reservation has to be
made well in advance through the Forest Department offices in Mysore or
Bangalore to stay here. The Kabini River Lodge near Karapur on the Mysore.
Manathavadi highway also has good accommodation facilities.
One must arrive at the park gates well before dusk, for the road through
the park that leads to the lodges is prone to elephant blocks and closes at
6 pm. Those interested in trekking should avoid visiting the park during
monsoons as floods wash out most of its dirt tracks and leeches render
Best Time to Visit Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary
Open year round, the best period being Nagarhole National Park October-May,