Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve
Located in Kodagi and Mysore districts, Nagarhole Tiger Reserve is a jewel of Karnataka. It is also known as Nagarhole National Park and Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
It is a 247 square mile-long bounty of nature sitting right beside the Kabini River. The park stands on the west side of the river and is one of the best-managed national parks in India. Nagarhole is also one of the best national parks to spot a Black Panther in India.
The Nagarhole National Park experiences moderate temperature variations owing to its geographic location. The summer temperature hardly reaches 33 degrees Celsius.
The mercury, in winter, falls to about 14 degrees Celsius and above. Even though the monsoons are erratic in this area, several water sources ensure lush greenery and sufficient hydration for the animals in the reserve.
The availability of multiple water resources makes Nagarhole National Park a unique place to visit. Sources contributing water to the reserve are Sarati Hole, Nagar Hole, BalleHalla, Kabini River, Lakshmmantirtha River, four perennial streams, 47 seasonal streams, and four small perennial lakes, 41 artificial tanks, several swamps, Taraka Dam, and the Kabini reservoir. These ensure the survival and thriving of plant and animal life in Nagarhole.
History – Nagarhole National Park
The reserve gets its name from a concoction of two words: ‘Nagar’ meaning snake and ‘hole’ meaning streams. The name seems aptly chosen when one comes across the many pristine streams that run across the landscape in a serpentine fashion. These streams cut through the tropical forests to go eastward through the center of the reserve.
The areas of Nagarhole used to be hunting grounds for Maharajas of Mysore back in history. In those years, it included the forest areas of Arkeri, Hatgat, and Nalkegin Kodagu. In the year 1974, certain adjoining areas were added to it and the place received a new identity as the Nagarhole Game Reserve.
This game reserve was then updated to the status of a National Park in 1988. The update meant further extension of the area by 643.39 KM. The park was made into a tiger reserve in 1999. To date, it has survived its reputation well and maintains a healthy tiger-predator ratio.
Kabini Backwater Nagarhole National Park – Image credits: Vasudev
Flora and Fauna – Nagarhole
Flora: Nagarhole Tiger Reserve sits at the combining area of North-Western Ghats and Central Deccan Plateau. Owing to this, both moist and dry varieties of deciduous forests are prominent here. Commercially important rosewood, teak, sandalwood, and silver oak are the main trees here. Some starkly different species such as the golden shower trees, the flame of the forest, and clumping bamboos provide diversity to the forest cover and bring a feel of wilderness to the landscape.
Mammals: Tiger, Indian Leopard, Black Panther, and Asiatic Wild Dogs are the predating mammals here. There is also a significant population of golden jackals, sloth bears, striped hyenas, spotted deer, antelope, and wild boar. Other mammalian inhabitants include brown mongoose, black-naped hare, mouse deer, Indian pangolin, etc.
Reptiles: Frequently spotted reptile varieties are: the mugger, vine snake, rat snake, bamboo pit viper, Russel’s viper, and Indian rock python. Indian monitor lizard and the common toad are also found.
Insects: The reserve is rich in insect variety so much so that extensive studies on insect biodiversity have been carried out here. There are known 96 varieties of dung beetles and 60 species of ants. The unusual ant species of jumping ants are also residents of Nagarhole. They are known to jump up to a meter high.
Avifauna: The Park is officially recognized as an important bird area and is home to 270 bird species. Some of these species are darters, red-headed vulture, Malabar grey hornbill, white-bellied treepie, etc. The ‘critically endangered’ Oriental white-backed vulture is also seen here.
Safari Details – Nagarhole National Park
A jungle safari at Nagarhole is a must-do thing. After all, who would want to miss out on the beautiful landscape of this place and the bewildering wildlife variety! If lucky, you may catch glimpses of a Bengal tiger or the swift leopard. Don’t forget to bring your camera along since your moments here will be prized memories.
Three different kinds of safari are available at Nagarhole:
Jeep Safari: You can roam around the park in an open-top jeep and savor the sights of small and large Nagarhole denizens.
Boat Safari: This takes you from your resort upstream on the River Kabini and brings you to the dividing area of Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks. You can take a look at various animals congregating at the river banks. Marsh crocodiles and water birds may also make appearances.
Coracle Ride: The coracle is a round-shaped boat designed for the waters of Indian rivers. You can take a ride in one and drift down the Kabini River. This journey is adrenaline-inducing as well as calming.
Other places of Interest
Irppu Falls: The waterfall down Brahmagiri is a stunning, calming, serene sight that will fill you with the wonder of nature’s many gifts. This particular location pulls many tourists around and none have regretted visiting here ever.
Ishwara Temple: A symbol of faith and devotion, the temple is an important pilgrim center. The legend says Lord Rama placed a Shivling here himself. The temple remains closed in the afternoon for the deity supposedly ‘takes rest’ then.
Reaching Nagarhole National Park
- By Air: The nearest airport is Bangalore which is 220 KMs from Nagarhole and is well connected to the rest of the country through frequent up and down flights.
- By Rail: The closest well-connected railway junction is Mysore. Nagarhole Tiger Reserve is 96 KMs from Mysore. It is a distance of 2 hours drive.
- By Road: The reserve is well connected to major cities of Karnataka through motorable highways. These highways connect through the cities of Mysore and Madikere. Travel from both places takes about 02 hours to reach Nagarhole Tiger Reserve.
- Take care of reaching the park gates well before dusk. The road that leads to nearby lodges runs through the park and is often blocked by elephants. For this reason, the road officially closes at 6 PM.
- If you wish to trek at Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, ditch the idea of doing it during the monsoon. The erratic showers wash out all dirt tracks and trekking is almost impossible.