Located along Ooty Highway between the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Bandipur National Park is one of South India’s best known tiger reserves. Sadly, time constraints kept me from stopping for a safari in-between my travels from Mysore to Ooty; a shame given the rich history and area devoted to the rich flora and fauna of the area. Tourists traveling through the area won’t completely miss out as the main highway runs directly through the park allowing quick shutterbugs a chance to see a small slice of the diverse animal population living here.
Present day Bandipur National Park began in 1931, once the personal hunting grounds of Mysore maharajas. Now it is best known as a Project Tiger Reserve (started in 1973) covering 874 square kilometers home to an estimated 70 tigers. Rocky hills and valleys include the Kabini, Nugu, and Moyar River, backdropped by the Nilgiri Mountains. Scrub jungles on the eastern side of the park ease into deciduous forests on the western edges including the ever popular sandalwood tree.
An impressive list of fauna found here includes: Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar (deer), Chital, Sloth bear, Mouse deer, Wild dog, Wild boar, Barking deer, Four horned Antelope, Hyena, Panther, Crocodiles, Python, and Osprey are some of the better recognized animals. Snake and reptile lovers can find King Cobra, Common Cobra, Python, Adder, Viper, Rat Snake, Water Snake, Marsh Crocodile, Lizard, Chameleon, Monitor Lizard, Frog, Tree frog, Toad and Tortoise while wing lovers can spot Grey Junglefowl, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Honey Buzzard, Red-headed Vulture, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Brown Hawk Owl, Bay Owl, Malabar Trogon, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Little Spiderhunter, and Plain Flower Pecker.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Bandipur National Park is Gopalaswamy Betta, the highest peak inside the park, surrounded by wooded areas. A temple dedicated to Lord Venugopala Swamy, one of the incarnations of the Hindu God Krishna is also located here. Trek to the temple to watch the sunrise and sunset.
Entry Fee and Timings
Entry fees for the park as of April 2011: Indians Rs 200 / Foreigners Rs 1000
Bandipur National Park is open from May to June & September to November
Safari in Bandipur National Park
All safari prices are charged in addition to the regular park entry fee. Tourists cannot tour the national park in their private vehicles.
Option 1: Jeep Safari
The jeep safari is available for up to 6 passengers per vehicle with two scheduled morning trips and two scheduled evening trips.
AM Timings 6:30 to 8:00 and 8:00 to 9:30
PM Timings 3:30 to 5:00 and 5:00 to 6:30
Cost: Indians Rs 1750 / Foreigners Rs 2000
Option 2: Van Safari
Bandipur safari by van is aboard a 25 seat vehicle lasting 30 minutes.
AM Timings 6:30 to 9:00, leaving every half hour
PM Timings 3:30 to 6:00, leaving every half hour
Cost: Indians and Foreigners Rs 75 per pax
Option 3: Elephant Safari
Elephant safaris last just 10 minutes with a maximum allotment of 4 persons per elephant.
Cost: Rs 50 per pax
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport from Bandipur is Bangalore International Airport (BLR), 215 km.
By Rail: The nearest railhead from Bandipur is Mysore (MYS), 80 km.
By Car: Bandipur National Park is located along Highway 766 and 181, approximately 80 km from Ooty and 80 km from Mysore.
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