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
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
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
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.
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.