Spread across 643 square kilometers on the banks of rivers Kabini, Nagarhole and Lakshmana Teertha, Nagarhole National Park (officially known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park) is situated across the picturesque Kodagu (Coorg) and Mysore districts of southern Karnataka. The National Park is home to tigers, leopards, elephants, muntjac (barking deer), wild boars and hyenas among others. It is also a paradise for birdwatchers with over 250 species of birds like the Malabar trogan, Indian pitta, green imperial pigeon, Malabar pied hornbill and great black woodpecker. The Park offers jeep rides, bus rides, boat rides and treks to help you get up close with the wild world. This article is about Nagarhole National Park & Places to visit.
Nagarhole was once the hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Mysore. In 1955 it was declared a reserve forest. It forms a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Nagarhole is also part of the Project Tiger initiative to protect and revive the tiger population in India.
Nagarhole Reserve Tours – Jeep Safari, Elephant Safari and Nature Walks
Nagarhole is one of the best preserved National Parks of India. In the moist mixed deciduous forests of Nagarhole, visitors can hope to see tigers, panthers, deer, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, lion-tail macaque, golden jackal, sloth bear, Indian grey mongoose and the Indian gaur. The National Park conducts bus, jeep and elephant safaris and nature walks.
While walking trails are very popular with the more avid wildlife watchers, jeep rides are most popular and economical. The open jeep rides take you along defined tracks of the forest. You see small ponds on both sides of the tracks and are good places to spot animals. Unfortunately the jeeps are often very old and can get a little noisy. Private vehicles are thus a good substitute. You need to take a guide along. The forest is well connected via roads and is open year round (except for a brief period during rains). September to March is the best time to visit. Visitors are restricted to the vehicles and prohibited from getting down in the forest.
Coracle Boat Rides and Motor Boat Rides
Boating in the lake created due to the dam built on Kabini River is one of the most popular activities at Nagarhole. Boats are operated twice a day till the edge of the forest to spot wildlife. Since water is essential for animals, boat rides are an excellent way of exploring the forest and sighting animals. The common sightings are aquatic birds, crocodiles, sambar deer etc. You may also sight an elephant feeding on tender bamboo shoots, or a thirsty tiger by the river. The rides don’t take you very close to the shores to avoid disturbing the animals, however, its close enough for you to get a view of a lifetime.
Located in the Brahmagiri Range of district Kodagu (Coorg), the Iruppu Falls is also referred to as the Lakshmana Tirtha Falls. It forms the starting point of Lakshmana Tirtha River, a tributary of Cauvery. The walk up to the Falls is very picturesque. You cross a small bridge, and walk up the muddy stairs surrounded by moss, ferns and tall trees accompanied by the sound of the gushing waters. There is a small square space with some benches kept facing the Falls for visitors to relax after the climb and enjoy the beauty of the Falls.
Kutta, a small town of South Kodagu with about 5000 people is the nearest town to Nagarhole. It’s famous for its sprawling coffee estates. Spices, betel nut, banana and paddy are other crop that grow extensively here. Kutta lies on the Karnataka-Kerala border. It’s a beautiful town surrounded by mountains, rivers and waterfalls. Many enthusiasts cycle to Kutta just to enjoy the thick tropical forest cover, the farms by the roadside and to soak in the beauty of nature. People at Kutta are very friendly and helpful despite the language barrier.
The Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the favorite trekking destinations for people from different parts of Karnataka and Kerala. Situated on the borders of Kodagu district in Karnataka and Wayanad district of Kerala, the forest department has established 8 trekking trails in Brahmagiri Sanctuary which range from Easy to Moderate levels. Some of the trails are day treks while some require camping in the jungles or at very basic home stays. The Narimalai Forest Rest House forms the base point of most trekking routes. It has basic and limited facilities and many treks only provide for sleeping on the floor here. There is no electricity in the FRH, but a perennial stream nearby meets the water requirement.
Situated on the borders of Kodagu district in Karnataka and Wayanad district of Kerala is the Bramhagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is named after Brahmagiri peak (1607 meters). The eastern point of the sanctuary almost fuses with the Nagarhole National Park separated only by a narrow stretch of coffee plantation. Bramhagiri Wildlife Sanctuary has pleasant weather which makes is a favorite destination for nature camps and treks. Surrounded by lush green and shola grasslands the best time to visit the sanctuary is from October to May. Don’t miss the spectacular views of Western Ghats from the Brahmagiri peak.
Karnataka is famous for its Asian elephants and Dubare Elephant Camp gives you a great opportunity to get up close with them. Situated on the banks of river Cauvery, it also offers coracle rides and river rafting options in season. You can begin your day with a coracle ride at 0630 hours followed by an Elephant Interaction at 0830 hours. This gives you an opportunity to scrub bathe the elephants and feed them. The evening activities include a jeep safari into Dubare Reserve Forest at 1630 hours followed by a wildlife film show at 1900 hours. Advance bookings need to be done to be able to visit Dubare Elephant Camp.
Do read about National Parks Around India
- Kanha Tiger Reserve & National Park
- Hot Air Balloon Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park
- Madhya Pradesh National Parks
- Kaziranga National Park
Frequently Asked Questions About Nagarhole National Park
Q. For whom is Nagarhole National Park famous?
A – Nagarhole National Park is a national park located in Kodagu district and Mysore district in Karnataka, India. It is one of the major tiger reserves in India as well as Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
Q. Which is better, Bandipur or Nagarhole?
A – Nagarhole is much better than Bandipur in all aspects. The tiger is not guaranteed at any place in the national park. In Nagarhole, you can see elephants, deer, seas, peacocks, wild dogs etc. On your morning river cruise you can come across crocodiles and different types of birds.
Q. How many tigers are there in Nagarhole?
A – Tiger population in Nagarhole-Bandipur is estimated to be 250 in an area of 1,500 sq km, with about one tiger per 7 sq km in these areas.
Q. Is Nagarhole and Kabini the same?
A – It is a part of Nilgiri and is surrounded by the river Kabini located in Mysore and Kodagu districts. There are countless types of animals like elephants, tigers, panthers etc. and about 250 varieties of birds are present in Naghole National Park.
Q. Which animal is famous in Nagarhole National Park?
A – Other animals found in Nagarhole, home to about 1,000 Asian elephants, include chital (spotted deer), Indian mouse deer, gaur, striped-necked and ruddy lilies, brown langurs, bonnet bask, Asian wild dog, leopard, Includes tigers and – more elusive – dull bears.
Q. How far is Kabini from Nagarhole?
A – Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary is surrounded by many other national parks including Nagarhole National Park. This popular destination is about 2 hours from Nagarhole.
Q. How far is Nagarhole from Coorg?
A – 91 Kms is the distance Between Nagarhole to Coorg.
Q. How do I get to Nagarhole National Park?
A – By Rail: To reach Nagarhole National Park by Rail, one has to get down at Mysore station which is 80 km from the park. The train ride from Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad to Coorg takes 2 hours, 21 hours and 16 hours respectively.
Q. Are bikes allowed in Nagarhole?
A – There is a diversion near the Kutta bus stand, about 5 km ahead of which there is a forest check post from which two wheelers are not allowed to go further. The place where the safari starts is about 3 km from this gate. Four wheelers can go directly to the safari point.
Q. How many leopards are there in Nagarhole?
A – According to the current census, the number of leopards is up to 14000–15000. Nagarhole is one of the few places where one can actually get to see this magnificent creature with better chances.
Q. What is the meaning of Nagarhole?
A – The name Nagarhole is derived from two Kannada names, Nagar meaning “snake” and hole meaning currents. In fact, the name strikes the true meaning for this national park, where some serpentine streams draw thorns from the rich tropical forests running east through its center.
Q. How can I reach Nagarhole National Park from Mysore?
A – There are KSRTC buses from Mysore to Nagarhole. Buses stop at HD Kote Bus Station, about 30 km from the park. You can arrange a cab to take you from the bus station to the park. You can also rent a car from Bengaluru or Mysore.
Q. How far is Nagarhole from Bangalore?
A – 220 Kms is the distance Between Bengaluru to Nagarhole.
Q. How do I get to Iruppu Falls?
A – Below are the Options to visit Iruppu waterfalls –
- By road: You can reach Iruppu Falls by road from Gonikoppal to Nagarhole National Park via Kutta Road.
- By rail: The nearest railway station is Mysore Junction located about 110 Km from the Iruppu Falls.
- By bus: The nearest bus stop to the falls is at Kutta.
Q. In which state is Nagarhole National Park?
A – Established in 1955 and built in a national park in 1988, Nagarhole National Park is also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. The park is spread over 643 sq km between the districts of Coorg and Mysore in the southern state of Karnataka and is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
Q. How many deer are there in Nagarhole National Park?
A – On the drive through the park, spotted deer herds are visible at every turn. My guide says that there are over 35,000 chital in this park, although there is no way to verify this number. With such an incredibly healthy hunting base, it is no surprise that dense tropical forests support a large population of predators.
Q. What is the best time to visit Nagarhole National Park?
A – Nagarhole National Park is open for public admission all year round, but the best time to visit Nagarhole National Park is from April to May, when the waterholes dry up and the animals leave to visit the lake. Nevertheless, the weather conditions are more pleasing from November to February.
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