If you are planning to visit Karnataka anytime soon, lots of National Parks would be on your ‘must visit’ list. And among those national parks, Nagarhole should top the list. Nagarhole National Park, also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, is situated in Mysore and Kodagu district of Karnataka. An enchanting national park, with woods surrounding it, will surely give you a great time residing in the forest resort. And not to forget the ‘Jungle Safari’ which will let you have the glimpse of rare wild animals roaming around freely in the woods. Hills falls and valleys– the park has a mesmerizing beauty that will never fail to amaze your soul. Want to know more? Well, we are here at your service. But before we start on babbling about the current state of the National Park, why not have a little glimpse of this park from the past? Have a look.
Nagarhole National Park
A really long time ago this park was just a hunting forest reserved for the King of the Mysore, who would hunt and kill wild animals for pleasure. But soon after independence, the scenario changed drastically, not for the wild animals ironically. After 1947, this forest area was adopted by the Government as a harvesting area. Different tribal and non-tribal people started living here, and they were encouraged to cultivate rice and other crops. Due to such unruly situation, wild animals were tortured and killed illegally. After 1955, the situation started to change when this area was established as a ‘Wildlife Sanctuary’, and different laws were passed to protect wild animals. Later by the end of 1983, this place was declared as a National Park. Finally, in 1999 it was upgraded in a Tiger reserve forest.
Before we know about the geography of the park, we should concentrate on its nomenclature. In the Kannada language, ‘Naga’ means snakes and ‘Hole’ means stream; so it is named after the ‘Nagarhole’ river that separates ‘Nagarhole’ from the ‘Bandipur’ forest.
This National Park is far away from the city of Mysore, and it is situated in the South-East part of Karnataka. From the foothill of Western Ghats to the State of Kerala, the park covers almost 639 square kilometre area. The whole area is covered with dense forest however, the southern forest is drier than the Western Ghats area due to lack of rain. Situated at an altitude of 850 m above the sea level, this National Park mostly carries the vegetation of moist deciduous in the northern and the western part. Average 1300mm rainfall annually made the trees tall and denser than the other portion.
Also, the park has a variety of geographical features– from hills to valleys; from rivers to waterfalls – the natural beauty of Nagarhole is impeccable. It is surrounded by four rivers namely Kabini, Lakshmmantirtha, Sarati Hole and Nagar Hole. The temperature in this region can rise to 45°C in summer and drop to 10-11°C during winter.
Flora and Fauna of Nagarhole National Park
Being a moist deciduous forest area, Nagarhole National Park is full of teak, rosewood, sandalwood, Axle-wood, cotton tree, Kadam tree, crocodile bark tree, etc. However, in the drier region, the forest and the trees differ. In this region, mainly swamps and thorny wattles can be seen. Also, the bamboo tree is very common in Nagarhole. Towards the Central Deccan Plateau area shrubs like horse nettles, tick clovers, etc. are visible. Also, many rare species of trees exist in this National Park such as clumping bamboo, Golden shower tree, etc.
Etymologically this forest was named after ‘Naga’ i.e. snakes. So, snakes are very common in this National Park. From python, king cobra to the rattlesnake, wolf’s snake, Bamboo pit viper; around 72 species of snakes are present in this National Park. Apart from snakes, many other reptiles have dominant habitat such as monitoring lizard, crocodiles, Toad, etc.
Apart from reptiles, Nagarhole is famous as a Tiger reserve forest. Bengal tigers are a frequently visible to the tourists. Apart from tigers, elephants, leopard, wild boar, porcupine, jungle cat, spotted dear, Asiatic wild dogs, etc. According to a study done by Dr Ullas Karanth, Nagarhole currently has the presence of three species of predators which are rare in India.
Talking about birds, Nagarhole has plenty of it. This National Park contains more than 270 species of birds. From regular birds such as owls, cuckoos, ducks, herons to very rare species of birds such as darters, red-headed vultures, blue-winged parakeet, and grey-headed eagle are present in Nagarhole. Birds are mainly common in the northern and the western part of the forest.
How To Reach Nagarhole National Park
Airways : Nearest airport is Mysore International Airport which is 96 km away from the National Park and well connected by roads to Nagarhole.
Railways : The nearest railway station is the Mysore Railway Station.
Roadways : It is well connected to different cities of India via road. So, anyone can avail car or government bus easily.
Nagarhole National Park Timings
The best time to visit Nagarhole is from October to March. It is open from 6:30 am to 5:00 p.m. However, vehicle safari continues till 7:00 pm.
Entry fee for adults– Rs50
For foreigners– Rs150
And if you are carrying a camera, extra Rs50 would be needed.
A hunting reserve forest turned into a National Park, Nagarhole is a beauty in itself. Not only it has wildlife varieties, but it also has natural variation too that will soothe your eyes. A must visit place for everyone. Happy Travelling!