India

My premium weekend trip to Bandipur National Park

Going to the wild is always exciting and soothing – the excitement of watching the wild animals and the tranquility of being in the lap of mother-nature. As I’m not a photographer and we already had a photographer with us, I decided to take less pictures and enjoy the nature at the most through my own eyes. Please note, photos of few birds and animals clicked by Ramshesha.

We 2 families decided to bring along our kiddos to Bandipur to make them familiar with wild animals and birds. Its close to 220 Kms from Bangalore. We chose to stay in Karnataka govt Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) and booked for the same in month advance. We decided to drive and started from our home around 7.30AM. We had delicious breakfast in Shivalli MTR close to Maddur and resumed our drive. We reached JLR around 12.30, as we had to make numerous stops for the benefit of our kiddos.

We were assigned rooms Elephant and Chital. Name of the room indicates the huge wall painting of that animal in the room. My son was super happy to see the elegant huge elephant wall paint. He was surprised by matching bed spread and curtains. He was excited to show the same to Gundu (Ram’s kid) and ran to their room and was flabbergasted looking at the chital painting in the other room. He came back and pulled his dad to see the Chital. We freshen up and left to savor our meal. Food offered was nourishing and delicious. We were all set to start our safari.

Evening Safari

Our jeep engines hummed to life and we were set to explore wilderness and track serendipitous movements of wildlife. With hopes in our heart and curious eyes, we entered the dense and lush green forest of Bandipur National Park. The clock struck 3.30 pm as we gradually ventured in the denser parts of forest. Curious antelopes and spotted deer stared at us as we scanned the mud roads for tiger footprints and tree tops for evening birds. Our evening safari in Bandipur National park had started!

We saw a herd of deer staring us curiously as soon as we entered the dense forest. We saw a pair of mongooses cross our way and it halted our journey. The mongoose had a faint hint of red color, dominated by deep shades of brown. Unperturbed by our presence, they continued sniffing the earth for something to nibble on. We left the mongoose in peace and ventured ahead in search of predators. We stopped at a lake where a tiger had been seen earlier and saw few pond ducks and a king fisher.

While we were in the search of predator, we saw an Elephant parading through the dense forest. Our Jeep driver drove very close to that as it was grazing just besides mudroad. It looked as if Elephant was agitated by our presence. We were completely silent even though kiddos in our jeep were excited about that. After few clicks from our photographer Ramshesha, we parted ways with Elephant.

We saw a beautiful peacock, elegant Sambar, a gorgeous crescent hawk eagle, Wild boar, red wing lapwings, Woodpecker, kingfisher and many other birds. Later in the evening, Ramshesha was able to identify the sleeping monitor lizard. He couldn’t capture the sleeping beauty as it was not ready to show its face to us. For my 4.5 yrs old son the name “Sambar deer” was quite hilarious. we are south Indian vegetarians and for him, sambar is eatable substance and he can’t fathom the concept of species name being sambar 😊

The forest in Bandipur was dense and green. Even though the forest was very beautiful, there was every chance that the wildlife sightings would be minimal because of the dense vegetation. The dense vegetation offered the animals every opportunity to stay out of sight. Even though I was unsatisfied for not spotting the predators, I enjoyed the beautiful green forest and was happy to spot several birds. we parted ways and were back in JLR craving for more and hoping we will be lucky in our next day morning safari.

We enjoyed hot coffee with bajji as soon as we were back in JLR. Our kiddos were delighted to roam around the resort and my son was curious to know the names of the different animals and birds. We enjoyed the exquisite food prepared from JLR for dinner. We had numerous options from soup, salad to delicious desserts. Once we finished dinner, we came back to our room for rest and hoping for better tomorrow.

Morning Safari

I got a wakeup call from Ram at 5.30 in the morning to get ready. It was still dark outside, and I was lethargic to wake up. We finally got ready and relished every sip of filter coffee. My son was humming with energy to shoot the animals in Gopro.  He was asking me, Ram and his dad on several options in Gopro. I was unhappy to disappoint him as its very difficult to manage Gopro in his small hands in a moving vehicle.  I convinced him he can shoot video once vehicle is stopped and when we spot an animal and he reluctantly gave back the camera.

It was 6.15AM, the air was heavy with anticipation as we drove towards the park gates as mist rolled on the Nilgiris on both the sides of the road. Open top jeeps that gives you the best and undisturbed view of the forest, but it was nowhere close to being affordable for a normal middle-class family.  Jeep Safaris are prominent across India. It is found to be one of the convenient modes of exploring the wildlife. Monday being weekday, visitors were thin in number.

Out at dawn, in time to watch the sun come up over the forest. It’s cool but not cold, in the breeze created as you drive in an open jeep. Driver of our jeep moved into the depths of forest We spotted several deer’s silently grazing all around followed by several langurs on the tree top.  Naturalist in the jeep pointed us to the big brown fish owl sitting on tree top. We spent the few minutes moving from one zone to the other.

We saw a Tusker from a distance and our driver made a way very close to it. My son was finally happy to use the gopro and shoot. We stayed with Tusker for a while and moved in search of big cats again. It was our sheer badluck as we couldn’t spot any. While we were on the way back, we saw a Tusker and we could see a faint highlight of its calf hidden in the vegetation. Tusker was very protective of its calf and was about to charge our jeep. We parted ways with Tusker saying we wont harm its calf.

We came across a water body surrounded by tall trees and Bamboo plants. And in the waterbody was a Tusker busy eating and drinking. My son had a gazillion questions with regards to elephant habitat and was whispering all of them to us in one shot. I answered few and promised him to answer several others once we were back. The lone Tusker struck several poses in the water and later waded to the bank. On the bank it posed some more before it finally made its way into the tall vegetation. We continued our safari for next few minutes and we were able to capture and see the beauty of a dancing Peacock. We witnessed a peacock jump and I was surprised to see it flying so high. Soon, it was time to exit we left the dancing peacock and returned to the park gates.

We finished our breakfast post safari, got ready and resumed our journey towards Bangalore. We were planning to halt for a short visit to my parents home in Mysore. My son was eager to meet his grandparents and great grandmother in Mysore. We had our short gathering followed by lunch and began our journey towards Bangalore and kiddos were anxious to meet crocodile and few birds along with boat safari in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

More about Bandipur National Park

General Information

Bandipur National Park is a tiger reserve which protects many other endangered wildlife species. It is a home to more than 70 tigers and 3000 Asian elephants as well as other animals like Gaur, bears, langurs and deer. There are more than 230 bird species around the forest like Pea fowl, kites, eagles and many more. You can also spot a wide variety of reptiles – from Indian pythons to snakes.

Normal safari Timing, Duration & Cost

Bus safari Morning – 6.30 AM, 7.30 AM & 8.30 AM

Afternoon – 3.30 PM, 4.30 PM & 5.30 PM (Depending upon the availability of tourists)

Cost – Rs 300 per person per safari

Jeep safari – Rs. 3000 per vehicle for 6 persons

Jungle Lodges & Resort safari Timing, Duration & Cost

This is the one we had opted.

Safari Morning- 6.30 AM to 9.30 AM

Afternoon – 3.30 PM to 6.30 PM

Tariff – 7700 + Tax per person as of 2019 Jan. (This includes 1-night stay, All meals for 1 day and 2 safari cost, camera entry charges)

Other options for stay apart for Jungle lodges

Tourist Cottages: Cottages were located behind the forest office, one after another.

Cost – Rs 1000 per person

Private resorts – There are several private resorts available close by. Pick yours.

Best season to visit Bandipur National park – Bandipur national park is open throughout the year, However, for sighting, summers is best as animals tend to move around in search of food, water or shade. The rainy season also has a charm as the rains bring out the forest’s beauty at its best!

Destination Facts as per Wiki

Location: Karnataka, District Mysore, Mysore-Ooty highway

Languages spoken: Kannada, English & Hindi

Temperature: Summer 22 to 40°C, Winter 12 to 33°C

Reach der – Bandipur national park is located at 220 KMs from Bangalore. You can rent a car or drive or take a local bus. Bandipur doesn’t have a direct bus from Bangalore. But, you can take the bus to Ooty which passes through Bandipur. If you prefer trains, you can reach Nanjangud town from Bangalore by train and later take a local bus to reach Bandipur National Park. Ensure the timings are in your favor. Reaching Bandipur National Park late night or early morning might not be recommended as it’s a national park and commercial movement of vehicles are banned at night.

Ranganathittitu Bird Sanctuary

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a famous for the migratory birds that come here in thousands every year. However, some birds do stay here throughout the year. This place is 4 kms before Srirangapatana and 15Kms from Mysore. The entry fee for adults is Rs. 50 and car parking fee is Rs. 30. The park remains open from 9 am to 6 pm. Since it was weekday, it was peaceful and serene.

 

In the park, we roamed around without much perspiration because the park is well shaded with big trees. The park encloses a big water body. We saw big birds perched on the trees and on stones inside the park. The best way for bird-watching is by taking a boat-ride along river bank. These boats are paddled boats and there are two different types of boat rides; the common one costs Rs. 150 for each adult and the special one costs Rs. 1500. By opting for the special boat ride, you book the whole boat, and it takes you deeper into the water body. We opted for a special boat ride and ready for our journey. we strapped on the life jackets and went on board. Just as we took our positions, the clouds overshadowed the sun completely, and it turned into a very pleasant weather. At that very moment, we spotted a crocodile just about 200-300 m away from us.

Our kiddos were excited to see crocodiles and kept on pestering us on habitats of different birds. We saw pelicans, egrets, cormorant, Kingfisher, Painted strokes, Spoon billed stork, Heron and crocodiles. Ride time mentioned was 1 hour to completely cover the area. And just as we were about to end the ride, we saw a big crocodile sitting on a rock in an open space with its mouth open and ready for a bird to come and clean. My Son had plenty of questions regarding a bird cleaning crocodile tooth. Thus, ended our boat ride and spent few minutes in the park and we prepared ourselves for the journey back home

More about Raganathittu Bird Sanctuary

General Information as per Wiki

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, also known as Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka. t is the largest bird sanctuary in the state and comprises six islets on the banks of the Cauvery river.

Normal safari Timing, Duration & Cost

Boat safari – 9AM To 6.30 PM (Normal boat – 30 Mins, Special boat 1 hour)

Cost – Rs 150 per person per for common boat (10 ppl at a time)

Cost – Rs 1500 for entire special boat

Best Season – November to March. In this season lot of aquatic migratory birds fly here for breeding.

Destination Facts as per Wiki

Location: Karnataka, District Mandya, Srirangapatna

Languages spoken: Kannada, English & Hindi (Mostly Kannada)

Temperature: Summer 22 to 40°C, Winter 12 to 33°C

Reach der – Ranganathittu Bird is located at 100 KMs from Bangalore. Its 4 kms from Srirangapattana and 16 Kms From Mysore. You can rent a car or drive or take a local bus. If you prefer trains, you can reach Srirangapattana town from Bangalore by train (Numerous trains b/w Bangalore-Mysore) and later take a local rick to reach Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

Options for stay and Food

Stay

There are several home stays and hotels available for reasonable fare in srirangapattana and Mysore. If you are not visiting that place during Dasara festival its ok to go and directly check-in into any of the hotels. It’s better to book early if you planning to visit during Dasara.

 Food

There are lot of both veg and non-veg restaurants available in Srirangapattana. There are few small vendors (food Carts) inside bird sanctuary selling some local food and juices.

Other Facts To NOTE

The Salim Ali Interpretation Centre, maintained by Forest Department, screens 45-minute documentaries to special interest groups.

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