Nagarhole National Park of Karnataka is also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, this lovely 643 sq. km park is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere. Nagarhole national park (NNP), the charming park in Karnataka has an astonishing abundance of wildlife including large mammals such as tiger, leopard, wild elephant, dhole (Indian wild dog), and gaur (Indian bison).
Other species present are chital spotted deer, muntjac (barking deer), mouse deer, four-horned antelope, wild boar, sloth bear, hyena, mongoose, civet, otter, and more. The landscape is one of gentle slopes and shallow valleys. Dry deciduous forest trees are leafless in the summer rather than in the winter. There are grassy swamps where the soil is clayey, perennially moist, and which support a luxuriant growth of green grass all year. The change in terrain throughout the park in refreshing and the river system provides a unique wildlife viewing experience.
Nagarhole National Park is counted among India’s best wildlife parks. It has a large elephant and bison population. It also hosts a variety of animal species along with approximately 250 species of birds. On its northern confines is the Kabini River and on its southern fringes is the Bandipur national park. A dam on the Kabini River and its picturesque reservoir demarcates the two national parks. During the dry season (February. June), this artificial lake attracts a large number of animals, making it an ideal spot for sighting wildlife.
Flora at Nagarhole National Park: The predominant vegetation in the Nagarhole National Park is of southern tropical, moist, mixed deciduous type with a substantial eastern portion intergrading into dry deciduous type. The upper tree canpy is dominated by Terminalia tomentosa is association with Tectonia grandis, Dalbergia latifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Lagerstroemia lanceolata, Anogeissus latifolia, Adina cordifolia, Boambax malabaricum, Schleichera trijuga, Ficus sp. and others. The lower canopy has Kydia calycina, Emblica officinalis, Gmelina arborea etc. Several shrubs belonging to Solanum, Desmodium and Helicteres sp. etc. are abundantly found but weedy shrubs like Eupatorium and Lantana now dominate.
Fauna at Nagarhole National Park: The important predators and carnivora in the Nagarhole National Park are tiger, leopard, wild dog (dhole or Cuon alpinus), sloth bear and the hyena (Hyaena hyaena). The herbivores are spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), gaur (Bos gaurus), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and elephant. Among reptiles, the marsh crocodile, monitor lizard, rock python and several other species are represented. Aquatic and terrestrial tortoises, frogs, toads and tree frogs and myriad insects, including some very colourful butterflies, adorn this lovely southern jungle of India. Nagarhole National Park provides an opportunity to see some of the southern population of Gaur (jungle Bison). Also, this park in Karnataka is a good place to see elephants in the luxuriant forests and bamboo thickets which they most enjoy.
Their total population in southern India is now about 6500, nearly all living in the area where Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala adjoin in the shadow of the Western Ghats. Other mammalian miscallany includes the common langur (Presbytes entellus), Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), jungle cat, slender Loris (Loris tadigradus), leopard-cat (Felis bengalensis), civet cat (Viverricula indica and Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), mongoose (Herpestes fuscus and Herpestes vitticollis), common otter (Lutra lutra), giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista), giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), porcupine, jackal, mouse-deer (Tragulus meminna), hare and pangolin (Manis crassicaudata).
Over 250 species of birds are found at Nagarhole National Park. Besides the enormous variety of woodland birds, there are large congregations of water fowl in the Kabini river. Birds range from blue-bearded bee-eater, scarlet minivet and Malabar whistling thrush to the more common ospreys, herons and ducks.
Climate: The summer (March. May) temperature does not cross the 33°C mark. The brief winter, which lasts from November to January, has temperature plummeting to 14°C. Monsoon is erratic, but it generally rains from June to September.
Travel Tips: One must arrive at the park gates well before dusk, for the road through the park that leads to the lodges is prone to elephant blocks and closes at 6 pm. Those interested in trekking should avoid visiting the park during monsoons as floods wash out most of its dirt tracks and leeches render trekking impossible.
Best Time to See Wildlife: October to April
How to Reach Nagarhole National park?
By Air: The Nearest airport to the park is Mysore (96 km) and Bangalore (236 km around 5hrs from the park).
By Rail: The major railhead closest to Nagarhole is Mysore, 80 km.
By Road: The nearest town is Kutta 7 km way. And other major towns that are accessible by road are are Madikeri (93 km), Mysore (80 km) and Bangalore (236 km).