Famous for its tiger and elephant reserve and protected sandalwood trees, this 890 km2 park is one of India's most delightful wildlife sanctuaries.
The tiger reserve was formed later. Prior to the decision, it was a small 80sq km region hunting ground for the Maharaja.
Bandipur National Park was created in 1931 when it occupied 800 km2 of the total land of the Bandipur Reserve Forest. Following this, in 1973, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve was formed that has taken a great care of significant, but consistent increase in the number of tigers. In the historic days, the maharajas (kings) of the nearby Mysore city regarded the Bandipur forests as a private game reserve. Since its inception, as it is situated under the canopy of the Western Ghats, the Bandipur National Park is undoubtedly among the superb habitats for the Asian elephant and gaurs.
Flora and fauna
Various plants and sandalwood trees are common here. Elephants, tigers, chittal (spotted deer). Bandipur is under Project Tiger.
The region is warm and comfortable for most parts of the year with temperatures ranging from 24 to 28°C, except for the brief winter that lasts from October to January when the temperature hovers around the 19°C mark. Monsoon is erratic, but it generally rains from June to September.
The nearest town is Gundulpet, 31 km.
The nearest city is Mysore, 89 km.
Drive of 230 km (5.5 hours) from Bangalore
It is easy to drive the hill temple. It is around 230 km from Bangalore and a 5-hour journey. Since the weather conditions are extreme, it is advised to keep the car in good shape, especially headlights, wipers and tyre pressure.
To Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta , buses are available from Gundlupet town by 10:30AM which takes you direct to the top of the hill. Going by private vehicles is not allowed beyond the park gate. KSRTC buses are available from the parking spot also to take you up the hill.
Fees and permits
The park does not allow private vehicles inside the national park. Only the park reserved vehicles are permitted to go inside with a guard who is also the driver. The surrounding high end resorts have a tie up with forest department and allow for gypsy rides.
Every safari is only for strict 45 minutes. The bus can accommodate 20 people in it and is full on any weekend.
Gopalswamy Betta is one of the highest peaks in the Bandipur National Park and location of an ancient (13th-century) fort of the Palegars of Terakanambi. The view from top of this hill is truly breath-taking. It is one of the highest peaks (1454 meters above sea level) in the Bandipur National Park, Karnataka, India. It is also called Himada Gopalswamy Betta, as it is covered in mist (hima means mist in Kannada), for most of the months. (Betta means hill in Kannada). Another attraction at this peak is the fabled perpetual wind, that greets anyone who cares to climb it.
Herds of wild elephants are seen regularly near this peak. A lake, a few hundred feet below the peak serves as the local watering hole for the other wildlife.
The nearest town is Gundulpet, 20 km.
The nearest city is Mysore, 89 km.
There are no buses to Gopalswamy betta, so it would be prudent to take either a taxi, or ride a motorbike.
Take the NH-212 towards Gundulpet from Mysore. Just outside of Gundulpet there is a fork in the road. One towards Sultan Bateri, Waynad (NH-212 continued) and the other towards Bandipur (NH-66). Take the fork towards Bandipur. As you proceed towards Bandipur, take a right turn at Hangala village. (There should be a big Karnataka Tourism board abutting the road). From this point, the hill top should be 15 km. 4 km further, there is a forest department check post at the base of the hill. It is a 10 km winding, steep road, with a few hairpin bends that take you to the hill top.
There is an entrance fee that needs to be paid at the forest department check post. The fees varies depending on type of vehicle you intended to climb the hill. Two wheeler ₹25 and car ₹50.
Camping is possible, with the permission of the Range officer, at the Bandipur National Park. A travellers' bungalow is also available, but it has no running water. Again, the permission of the Range Officer is required.
The national park organizes 45-minute bus safari into the forest for a minimal fare of ₹95 only for Indians. Foreigners have to shed a few extra bucks. There is also open-jeep safari for ₹2200. The safari, however, doesn't guarantee that tourists will get to see tiger, as it is a matter of chance.
Safari is available only during 6AM to 11AM and after 4PM time slots. Kids love the elephant rides organized by the forest department for ₹120. The ride is for just 20 mins and it is not a safari.
Trekking in the jungle is illegal.
There are some shops selling snacks and souvenirs at the entrance to the park.
Free lunch and sweets are given to all the visitors in an open dining hall on the left side of the temple at Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta.
Dormitories and cottages are provided by government. Cottage booking requires prior permission by authorities in Mysore. Contact the Bandipur national park reception
- Jungle Home (900m), Thorapally (20 km from Bandipur safari office in TN side on Gudalur road), ☎ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Cottages, Swiss cottage tents, family camping tents ₹1000 to 2500.
- Greenwoods Nature Camp (Greenwoods Nature Camp - Offers Quality and Affordable accommodation, Jeep Safari, Camp Fire, Trekking), Thorapally, Mudmalai (2.5 km off Ooty Mysore Highway - 20 km from Bandipur (TN side - Karnataka border)), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 11:30AM, check-out: 11AM. ₹750 to ₹2500.
- Jungle lodge.
- Rockgarden Resort, ☎ .
- MC Resort, ☎ .
- Nilgiri resort. One of the best jungle resorts typically crafted as a tribal village. It is surrounded by dense forests. Thatch huts, campfire, bamboo groves makes it a place to remember. 880/- per person including foods.
- Tiger Ranch.
- Tusker trail resort.
Camping or use of the travellers bungalow will require permission from the Range officer at the Bandipur National Park
Jungle lodges also provides tenting facilities for accommodation. Campfire is organized by Jungle lodges.
You can also pitch your own tents with prior permission outside the forest area.
- Thrillophilia Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd., 4th Floor, 2628, 27th main, 1st sector, HSR layout, Bangalore, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Thrillophilia arranges for wildlife and camping tours around Bandipur which includes rappelling, camping, trekking (outside forest area), jumering, river crossing and quad biking. Sep – May is the best season for most of the adventure activities. From ₹3000 per person.
Monkeys do cause some menace here if one is not careful. One has to make sure they don't leave their cottage doors and windows open when you go out. If you are driving by and see some wildlife, do not lower your windshield when you stop your car, you'll have attracted some fearless monkeys which will enter your vehicle and not leave until it finds something to eat. Try not to feed the animals.
- Ooty is a famous hill station in southern India. It is an ideal place for honeymoon couples.