Bandipur National Park

Bandipur is located in the southern part of the state of Karnataka, it lies in the south of Kabini river, neighbors the Nagarhole National Park, the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu and the Wynaad in Kerala. This boundary together this area makes for the largest protected forest in India and is a long beautiful stretch that you would fall in love with.

Apart from river Kabini, river Moyar and Nagur adds beauty to this forest. The area of bandipur is 866 sq km surrounded with mesmerizing varieties of flora and fauna.

Earlier Bandipur was the private game reserve of the Mysore Maharajas.

Bandipur has a sizeable population of wildlife tigers, elephants, sloth bear, four horned antelope, squirrel, sambar, gaur, nilgiri langur and many more. Amongst the reserve’s most prominent animals are its 1,900-odd elephants.

The Royal Bengal tiger (75 in the Park) and leopard are even more elusive here than elsewhere because the moister region that they inhabit falls under the protected core area where casual visitors are not allowed. Mostly dry deciduous forest with an abundance of teak on the periphery, the moister core area of Bandipur, has large tracts of fragrant sandalwood and rosewood.

The Bandipur van safari is a 30 minute drive in a 25 seater van costing Rs.75 per person. The timings for the same are:

  • Morning: 6.30 AM to 9AM
  • Evening: 3.30 PM to 6PM

The jeep safari is for a maximum of six people at a time and there are two trips in the morning and two in the evening which costs Rs.1750/- for a jeep (for a maximum number of 6 persons) and Rs.2000/- for foreign nationals. The timings for the same are:

Morning:
  • First trip 6.30AM to 8AM
  • Second trip: 8am to 9.30am
Evening:
  • First trip: 3.30PM to 5PM
  • Second trip: 5PM to 6.30PM

Entry Requirements

All visitors to Bandipur have to get entry permits at the entrance to the park. These cost about Rs 150 (for foreigners) and considerably less for Indians. Additional charges are levied for cameras, vehicles, and elephant or jeep rides.

How to Visit

The nearest railhead is Nanjangud, 55 km away, while the nearest road head is the town of Gundulpet, 20 km from Bandipur. Both are, however, fairly small places, with few transport connections to the rest of the state. A better idea, therefore, would be to arrive at Bandipur via Mysore or Ooty.

Bandipur is 80 km from Mysore, and a similar distance from Ooty, and takes 2 ½ hours by road. Mysore is further connected to the rest of south India by train, while a narrow gauge train comes to Ooty from the plains station of Mettupalayam. Mettupalayam has train connections to a number of other towns in Tamilnadu. Once you’ve got to Mysore or Ooty, you can take a bus or hire a car or taxi to get to Bandipur.

Private vehicles are not allowed to tour the park, so buses abound, rumbling and roaring their way around, drowning out any chance of seeing animals. Better options for getting around in the park are the forest department jeeps and vans. The Forest Department also organises elephant rides of about an hour (or more) each, which take you deeper into the forest than you’d otherwise be able to go.

At Bandipur, you can book a machan near a watering hole for the best viewing of all.

When to visit

The best season depends on what you are looking for; if it’s wildlife you seek then the hot months from March to May are when animals flock to the watering holes, and hopefully to the ones close to your machan (but be aware: droughts also push animals into Mudumalai); for cool comfort the months of November-February are great when the flora is resurging after the rains; the rainy months of June-September bring the elephants to the fore, bring the temperatures down and the metalloid roads of Bandipur don’t get washed out either. If you are really interested in the animals, you must avoid the weekends when hordes of visitors come down from nearby cities for the day.

Where to Stay

Accommodation options in Bandipur include Forest Rest houses and KSTDC (Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation) cottages, besides a few private resorts and hotels. The forest rest houses here are deluxe bungalows and also have dormitory beds; both should be reserved in advance at the Forest Office in Bangalore or Mysore. Rooms at the rest houses cost between Rs 300 and 400 a night.

Luxury resorts around Bandipur National Park are more expensive but offer many more luxuries; they also arrange their own elephant safaris and jeep rides. A double room at one of the resorts will cost about Rs 3,000 per night, which will usually include meals, wildlife safaris, and fees for cameras, vehicles and entry.

Further information on Bandipur can be obtained from the office of the Field Director, Project Tiger, Aranya Bhavan, Ashokpuram, Mysore (Tel: 0821-480901) or the Chief Wildlife Warden, Aranya Bhavan, 18th Cross, Bangalore (Tel: 080-3341993).