Deriving its name from two Kannada words, ‘Nagar’ meaning snake and ‘hole’ meaning streams, this national park is situated in the Kodagu district and Mysore district in Karnataka. This national park was declared as the 37th project tiger reserve 1999. The park boasts of rich forest cover, small streams, hills and waterfalls as well as is home to tigers, Indian bisons, elephants, leopards, gaurs, muntjacs (barking deer), wild dogs, bonnet macaques and common langurs. True to its name, there has been a few serpentine streams fork through rich tropical forests of the park. Set up in 1955, the national park’s area was increased to include a greater expanse of forest reserve. The park was also once an exclusive hunting ground for the erstwhile Maharajas of Mysore. It has been recently renamed as Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
The national park’s carnivorous animals include tiger, leopard, wild dog (dhole or Cuon alpinus), sloth bear and the hyena (Hyaena hyaena). The herbivores are spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), gaur (Bos gaurus), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and elephant. The park also is home to the southern population of Gaur (jungle Bison). Other animlas spotted in the park include the common langur (Presbytes entellus), Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), jungle cat, slender Loris (Loris tadigradus), leopard-cat (Felis bengalensis), civet cat (Viverricula indica and Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), mongoose (Herpestes fuscus and Herpestes vitticollis), common otter (Lutra lutra), giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista), etc. Over 250 species of birds are also found besides a variety of woodland birds.
Permits: Entry to the national park is free and does not require any permits. The only way to tour the park is on a bus tour which costs Rs 25 per person from 6-8 am and 4-5 pm.
When to visit: March to May and November to January
Accommodation: Nagarhole Forest Guest house: Bookings can be made in advance with the Forest Department in Mysore. Machaan Resorts in Churikad, K Bagada Village, Kabini River Lodge, Karapura Jungle Inn.
How to reach:
Air: The nearest airport to the park is Mysore (96 km) and Bengaluru (236 km around 5 hours from the park).
Rail: The major railhead closest to Nagarhole is Mysore, 80 km.
Road: The nearest town is Kutta 7 km way. And other major towns are Madikeri (93 km), Mysore (80 km) and Bangalore (236 km). The state transport buses and taxis are available.