Nagarhole Tiger Reserve

About the park

Nagarhole is a combination of two Kannada terms, 'Nagara' meaning 'Cobra' and 'Hole' meaning 'River'. This National Park has been named after the river 'Nagarhole' which snakes through its rich tropical forests. Here, the legend and romance of Kabini is played out and revolves around the pristine river that forms an aqueous boundary with the Bandipur National Park. Take a boat ride down the river or hop into a van and explore the forests. The rich biodiversity will leave you in awe.

Anish Andheria -
Sanctuary Photo Library

Together, this area constitutes the largest contiguous forest cover in this part of the world and is part of the Nilgiri biosphere, the largest in Asia, and home to the largest concentration of herbivores in Asia; it is home to the largest congregation of Asiatic Elephants in the world. These forests also consist of three major predators of the region - tiger, leopard and dhole or wild dog, all three co-existing in high densities.

Other animals that have made their habitat in Nagarhole are Indian bison, porcupines, jackals, hyenas, Sloth bears, and not to mention Niligiri tahrs and Niligiri langurs, among many others. The Kabini River and several smaller streams running through the forest provide great views of the natural landscape and as well as ample opportunities to spot various fauna out for a drink.

Nagarhole was ruled by the Lingayat kings of Kodagu until the British colonial administration established hegemony in the 1850s. The presence of dilapidated irrigation tanks suggests that there were agricultural enclaves within the forested landscape. From the 1890s, the forests were gradually demarcated and notified as government-owned reserved forests. In 1955, a 285 sqkm area was gazetted as the Nagarhole Game Sanctuary. The same was extended in 1974 with some reserved forests from the Mysore district being added to bring the total area to the present 644 sqkm. This was also accorded the status of a National Park in 1974.

The Kabini dam submerged large tracts of forest creating a huge lake, parts of which are within the national park. During the dry season when the lake dries out, it leaves only the main river visible and the resulting open plain creates an abundance of fresh grass. This microhabitat provides fresh grass when the rest of the park is drying out and it plays host to large herds of elephants and other creatures of the forest, all easy to see.

With pleasant temperatures all year round, and the plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities, Nagarhole is bound to be on any nature enthusiast’s list of must-visit places.

Park timing

Winter and Summer: Morning: 6 am to 8.30 am | Evening: 3 pm to 5.00 pm

Present prices for safaris

Mini bus: INR 100 (US$ 1.4) per person
Jeep Safari: INR 700 for Indian Nationals | INR 1,500 for Foreign Nationals

How to book jeep safaris: Safaris can be booked through resorts and tour operators.

Any restrictions and rules:

Video camera: INR 1,000 (US$ 16.5) Still camera: INR 150 (US$ 2.5)

Latest information on tourism zones: No zone system

Any new activities allowed: Boating in river Kabini, Nature trail on the shores of Kabini river, Elephant rides. Still water rafting, white water rappelling arranged by private lodges, Visit to Irrupu falls


Apr 2014 - The conservation and scientific research efforts being applied in Nagarhole have really been beneficial, and both the tiger population and elephant population have been the beneficiaries. Excellent tiger sights are reported and commonly up to 150 elephants are seen around the shores on the boat safaris.

However on the flip side the visitor’s drives, though this is a very fine park, are all controlled by a government run organization, in 8 or 16 seater vehicles. The quality and organization of these is often poor and unpunctual, with visitors in a lottery for vehicles and guide expertise, ensuring a lack of consistency of naturalist knowledge, together with a tight routing system in only two zones, in a small 10 percent area of the park.

Book early to get one of only 11 vehicles allowed each day and ensure your hotel has a naturalist to get the best out of your visit.

Mar 2012 - Winter has brought numerous migratory bird species to the Park such as Grey wagtails and Barn swallows. As the water from the Kabini backwaters is periodically released and the water level recedes, tiny islands emerge making it easier to spot some of the denizens of the forest. Boat safaris are a great way to spot these stars: White-bellied woodpecker; Black-headed ibis; woolly-necked stork; smooth-coated otters; monitor lizards; crocodiles; elephants (especially big tuskers), and even a leopard if lucky. Elephants have also been sighted near the Balle Watchtower. Sunset Point is often visited by the resident gaurs. This season has not seen many tiger sightings although the forests of the Western Ghats are reckoned to have the greatest source of wild tigers in the world.

Park Notes

A Special Tiger Protection Force has been established by the local government to protect the big cat population from poachers. The team consists of 40 guards and 14 deputy forest range officers who will be equipped with firearms and will have the power to shoot.

May 2011 - Compared to previous years the frequency of tiger sightings has been good, though unpredictable – the contiguous forests of the Western Ghats are infact reckoned to have the greatest source of wild tigers in the world on the last Pan India Census in April 2011 of 350 to 411 tigers. They are also the most well monitored thanks to pioneering efforts in camera-trap techniques of Dr Ullas Karanth and his colleagues, at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Wild Dogs sightings have been recorded quite frequently in areas like Sunkatakatte, Mastigudi Road, and Bisilwadi Road; leopard sightings in areas like S-bend, Mastigudi Road and KV road; and elephant sightings have been very good from the boat safaris and vehicles over the last few months.

Gaur can be found at heights of up to 2,800 m above sea level and over time they have lost the fear of human beings, so most of them will go about their business undisturbed while ‘posing’ for photographs.

While the animals and birds that can be sighted will be the same as during the vehicle safari, the boat safari offers an opportunity to observe the Marsh Crocodile and other water birds. As the waters recede during summer, they leave behind isolated pools of water that attract a multitude of birds as fish are often trapped in them.

During the summer as the waters of the reservoir recede, a huge open plain is created with fresh grass and plenty of water and one can witness the largest congregation of Asiatic elephants, peacefully feeding and getting on with their lives.

Please note: The road to lodges through the Park closes at 6pm so visitors should exit the Park gates well in time. Trekking should be avoided during the monsoons as the dirt tracks are usually washed out with dense undergrowth making it difficult to find your way around, and leeches abound as well.

Regular education camps are conducted for school children and the forest department provides special concessions for tours organized for school children.

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