Originally used as a hunting reserve by the royals of the Wodeyar dynasty, Nagarhole National Park covers 643 square kilometres in the foothills between the Mysore and Kodagu districts in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Right next door to popular Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole is largely overlooked in favour of its slightly larger neighbour, which to us makes it all the more appealing.
Nagarhole National Park is covered in lush, deciduous teak and rosewood forests and adjoins the lovely Kabini Lake. It’s a haven for elephants, Indian bison and birdlife. It also has a healthy tiger population which is increasing and sightings are more and more frequent now after the fantastic work done by the authorities to improve conservation. You’ll also find the bonnet macaque, gaur, dhole, barking deer, and common langur, as well as hundreds of colourful bird species. Perhaps most fascinating of all is the chance that you’ll run into the region’s traditional inhabitants, the Jenu Kuruba people, who still reside in the national park despite efforts by government bodies to relocate them.
The verdant forest cover traverses valleys and hills with plenty of small streams and beautiful waterfalls. It forms a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, and in 1999 the region was declared a tiger reserve. It is best visited outside of the monsoon, either in the winter or summer months. Safari by boat and 4WD is a thrilling way to explore the park in detail.