Published: June 7th 2012June 7th 2012
Bandipur, a Wild Life Reserve located in the state of Karnataka, is situated on the border of the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Bandipur covers an area of 880 sq km and is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in southern India which also includes the Nagarhole National Park (643 sq km), Mudumalai National Park (320 sq km) and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (344 sq km), and covers a total area of 2183 sq km.
Bandipur was the private game reserve of the erstwhile Kings of Mysore, the Wodeyars, till the early 1930s. A lot of the wild animals were killed mercilessly by the royal family of Mysore. Later in 1932, Bandipur National Park was set up and has remained a conserved game park ever since.
Now Bandipur is home to 5000 Asiatic elephants, about one fifth of the world’s elephant population. Other than the elephants, tigers are also found in great abundance, though rarely seen. The other animals found here are leopards, sambar, giant Malabar squirrel, dholes, spotted deer, wild boar, panther, gaur and sloth bears. Though the best time to spot wild life and to visit the park is from March to April, the winter months from November to February have the most temperate climate.
A lot of hotels tie up with the forest department and offer Bandipur Packages. They also arrange for jeep safaris, elephant rides and canter rides into the forest. To avoid the rush it is always better to book in advance. Guided tours are conducted into the Bandipur forest at sunrise and before sunset. Walking in the forest is strictly prohibited.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Bandipur; the forest department can arrange for stay in the reserve itself if booked in advance. Outside the reserve many private resorts have come up with all the basic amenities. An ideal Bandipur Package would also include adventurous activities like trekking, bird watching, coracle ride, river crossing, fishing and angling.
You can also visit Gopalswamy Betta, the highest point in Bandipur, from where herds of wild elephants are seen regularly. A lake, a few hundred feet below the peak serves as the watering hole for the animals.
Bandipur is well linked by road to all the major neighbouring cities like Bangalore, Mysore, Ooty and Wayanad. Bandipur falls on the highway connecting Mysore and Ooty. Initially the roads through the park were open during the night. Now to avoid accidents and disturbances for the animals the entry gates remain closed from 9 pm to 6 am.
State transport buses that ply between Ooty and Mysore pass through Bandipur. The nearest railway station is in Mysore. Bangalore airport is the closest airport.
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