Bandipur National Park
Nestled in the picturesque greens between the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri Hills, in the state of Karnataka, Bandipur National Park has been the hunting preserve of the erstwhile Maharajas of Mysore. The park spreads over 900sq. km of extensive greenery interrupted by a chain of hills, stream and rivulets. Popularly known for its largest population of Asiatic elephants, Bandipur is also among the first nine tiger reserves in India under the Project Tiger.
Before being declared as a National Park, Bandipur used to be a sanctuary of 90 sq. km., brought out by the efforts of the royal family of Mysore. Later for effective wildlife conservation, the sanctuary has been extended to another 800 sq. km. by merging the Venugopala Wildlife Park. At present Bundipur National Park along with the adjacent Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary of Tamil Nadu, the Wynad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala and the Nagarhole National Park to the northwest forms the most extensive cover of protected forest in India and the entire area makes for the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
It is the magnificent topography and excellent network of roads within the jungle that make Bandipur National Park one of the finest and most accessible natural habitats for wildlife enthusiasts today. Though most of the wild inhabitants of the park can be spotted without much of an effort, but certain animals like the elusive tiger is still a difficult sight in offer, due to the kind of forest cover. The best ways to explore the park is on the elephant back. For the daring, a night vigil in a watchtower or machan can be of great interest. Boating and angling options are also available within the park area.
The major fauna attractions of Bundipur includes the tiger, elephants, leopards, chital, mouse deer, gaurs, barking deer, sambar, black napped hare, sloth beer, languor, bonnet macaque, Indian giant red squirrel, porcupines, four- horned antelope, wild boar, Otter, and different species of cats and mongoose. The area is also a paradise for bird watchers with a whole range of avian population.
Apart from wild inhabitants, the area is also a photographer’s delight. It boasts of some of the most picturesque landscapes like the rolling rocks to the south of the forest with panoramic view of the 260 meter deep Mysore Ditch and the Moyar Gorge.