Nagarhole is a tiny hamlet located in the middle of a large conjoining forest range in south of Coorg.
There are many designated wildlife parks within the Nilgiri Biosphere. Nagarhole National Park is one of them. Nagarhole National Park , also officially Rajiv Gandhi National Park , is special among other wildlife sanctuaries in the area , thanks to its significantly higher population of wildlife especially of tiger and huge elephant herds (Fauna of Nagarhole National Park) .
A short history of the park. Originally the forest area was the private hunting sanctuary for the Mysore royals. In 1955 the two adjacent forest ranges ( Mysore and Nagarhole) combined to form the Nagarhole National Park. Later the park is named after the late prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. Still the old name – Nagarhole National Park- survives.
Naga means snake , hole means pond or stream in local parlance. There is a steam in the west side of the park called Nagarhole. So the name of the park.
In practice you are more likely to spot elephants and deers than that elusive tiger. The Safari takes you around in a predefined forest trail .
The thick undergrowth on either side of the safari path is cleared to enhance the spotting of wildlife.
There are two safari timings in Nagarhole , one in the morning and one in the evening ( 06:00 – 09:00 and 15:00 – 17:00 Hrs). The possibility of spotting the animals are more during early mornings and evenings. Depend on the number of visitors , they operate a number of trips. Bus Safari fee is Rs150.
You’ve to park your vehicle near the guesthouse area and board the forest department’s safari van ( 16 – 20 seater). It’s a noisy affair, unless you are lucky to have a well informed and serious crowd. Now the van takes a slow circuit relatively deep into the forest and return to the base after about one hour. End of safari.
You need to arrange for private Jeep Safaris as the forest department doesn’t offer this facility. There is a fee and a guide would accompany, for taking private safari vehicles inside the park. Check with the forest department office ( at Hunsur , Virajpet or Bangalore) for the formalities. If you are staying in one of those homestays or resorts in Coorg, they usually arrange for the jeep safari.
Stay inside Nagarhole Forest
There are a few forest department guest house accommodation in Nagarhole National Park . They are very basic, but only options to stay inside the park.
Summer months are better opportune season to spot animals. The shrubs are not as thick as during the rainy period. That enhances visibility. Also animals come more closer to the water holes which are few and far in between during the summer peak. Again it’s a theory. Your luck does matter a lot .
Location wise Nagarhole National Park spreads over two districts of Karnataka state – Mysore and Coorg. Its a relatively large national park covering an area more than 600 sq. kilometers ( 230 sq miles) .
Accessing Nagarhole is not very easy. Checkout How to reach Nagarhole National Park for bus and road road routes to the park.
- Due to various reasons, the forest department may cancel safari for specific periods. Checkout prior before you drive all the way.
- The state highway passes through the park connecting Kutta with Hunsur. Driving through the park is allowed (no bikes) , except in the night.
- Club your itinerary with Iruppu Falls, that’s close to the south entry to the park.
- Book at the Nagarhole National Park Guest House (FRH), they are basic but the only option to stay inside the park.