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5 Best National Parks in Karnataka

by Dhriti

Karnataka, a famed southern state, is known for its rich biodiversity, and exotic flora and fauna. More than 25 percent of elephants and 15 percent of tigers in India call the state their home. There are 5 national parks in Karnataka, 18 wildlife sanctuaries, and 9 bird sanctuaries, which proves that the state is paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. The state represents a rich and unadulterated biodiversity, where wildlife roams around freely in their natural habitat.

Although there are a lot of attractions like glittering palaces, ancient ruins, and beaches available in Karnataka, the wildlife is what truly makes it a prime destination in India. If you are looking for a jeep safari and opportunity to come close with wildlife, plan your trip to one of the five national parks here. It is a photographer’s delight, and a wildlife aficionado’s paradise, as you can easily spot a magnificent tiger, ferocious black panther and majestic elephants roaming around.

Let’s have a complete guide to Karnataka’s best National Parks:

Bannerghatta National Park

Nestled in the foothills of Anekal range, near Bangalore, Bannerghatta National Park is a must-visit destination in iconic Karnataka to spot the big cats. With abundant wildlife, natural establishments, and rich vegetation, Bannerghatta National Park makes for a great weekend trip. It spreads across an area of 25,000 acres and encompasses an elephant corridor, butterfly park, a zoo, a crocodile farm, and a children’s park.

It was founded in 1970, declared as a national park in 1974, and a biological reserve in 2002. Interestingly, it is the only place in the world where one can experience such diverse wilderness in a close proximity to the city. Furthermore, there is a rescue center in the park, which works towards rescuing animals in distress, conserving, and protecting them. Take Grand Safari, which is a one hour long safari, and provides a great opportunity to spot big cats like Bengal tigers, leopards, black panthers, white tigers, and lions. The other residents include elephants, zebras, spotted deer, reptiles, and crocodiles.

  • Location: Bannerghatta Main Rd, Bannerughatta, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560083
  • Best Time to Visit: September to January
  • Safari Timing: 10 am-04:30 pm
  • Safari Cost: Non-AC bus Safari (zoo+safari)- INR 200/Person
  • AC bus safari (zoo+safari+Butterfly Park+Camera)- INR 500/Person
  • Jeep Safari (zoo+safari+Butterfly Park+Camera)- INR 3,000 in a 6-seater jeep

Nagarhole National Park

Nagarhole National Park, also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park is a wildlife reserve and is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The park is located in the foothills of Brahmagiri Mountains and is packed with sandalwood, silver oak, rosewood, and teak trees. River Kabini flows through the jungle and the surrounding landscapes offer impressive views of the park. It boasts varied topography, rich flora and fauna, gentle slopes, and shallow valleys. Furthermore, it is home to a variety of beautiful species like spotted deer, Civet cats, hyenas, elephants, jackals, tigers, panthers, sambars, gaurs, mongoose, and sloth bears.

For ornithologists, the national park is a paradise. There are over 250 species of birds and can be spotted easily. It is a tiger reserve in Karnataka under Project Tiger and Project Elephant. You may find it interesting to know that Nagarhole National Park is home to the largest herd of Asiatic elephants in the world. Moreover, it houses stunning vegetation, and plantation, along with verdant tropical forests. The reptiles here include Indian Rock Python, King Cobra, krait, Russell’s viper, tortoise, monitor lizard, and toads.

  • Location: 25X3+C76, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve Forest Campus, Old BM Rd, Hunsur, Karnataka 571105
  • Best Time to Visit: April to May and November to February
  • Safari Timing: Boat safar- 09am to 11am and 05pm to 06pm
  • Jeep safari- 05:30am to 10am and 03pm to 07pm
  • Bus safari- 06am to 09am and 03pm to 05pm
  • Safari Cost: INR 250/adult and INR 125/Child

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur National Park is a 874 sq km forested reserve in Karnataka, which was once the private hunting ground of the maharajas of Mysore. It was declared as a tiger reserve in 1974 under Project Tiger. This enchanting national park boasts deciduous forests, rich in exotic wildlife. The park houses 70 tigers, 3,000 Indian elephants, which is Karnataka state animal, antelope, bison, spotted deer, and numerous other majestic creatures.

The park is located in the foothills of the Nilgiris and is the first reserved biosphere in India. The government has undertaken special measures to protect its endangered species like hornbills, pythons, panthers, sandalwoods, and teaks. A ban on traffic has been issued between 09pm to 06am to bring down the wildlife casualties due to speeding vehicles. Although the park houses several exotic species, visitors come here to see the two famed residents- tigers and Asiatic wild elephants.

  • Location: NH 67, Hangala Village, Gundlupet Taluk, Bandipur, Karnataka 571126
  • Best Time to Visit: October to March
  • Safari Timing: Jeep safari- 06am to 09am and 04pm to 06pm
  • Bus safari- 06:30am to 09am and 03:30pm to 05:30pm
  • Safari Cost: Jeep safari- INR 3,000
  • Non-AC bus safari – INR 350/Person

Anshi National Park

Anshi National Park is one of the popular national parks in Karnataka, and is a part of the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. It covers more than 500km square km of national reserve, which is renamed as Kali Tiger Reserve. Furthermore, it boasts rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats and offers a rich variety of flora and fauna. In addition, the park is the only place in Asia, where you can witness black panthers in its natural habitat. Apart from this magnificent resident, the park is also home to bison, yellow-footed pigeon, Malabar hornbills, deer, and king cobra.

Anshi National Park is a perfect destination to explore the outdoors of Western Ghats. It boasts interesting topography, meandering rivers, verdant valleys, and majestic mountains. Along with mammals and reptiles, the park also houses a wide variety of rare species of birds like Golden Backed woodpecker, serpent eagle, and great hornbill. Take a jeep safari to admire all these majestic creatures.

  • Location: X9X5+6FQ, Kodthalli, Karnataka 581187
  • Best Time to Visit: October to April
  • Safari Timing: 06am to 08:30 am and 04pm to 06:30pm
  • Safari Cost: INR 450/Person

Mudumalai National Park

Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiri Mountains, shares its border with Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This fascinating wild park is known for its dense population of elephants and tigers. However, apart from these two majestic animals, the park houses at least 266 species of birds, including Indian white-rumped vulture, and the long-billed vulture, leopards, gaur, deers, flying lizard, monitor lizard, etc.

This tiger reserve, spreading across an area of 321 sq km, offers the best scenic views of the gushing streams, cascading waterfalls, and deep valleys. It features a varied terrain ranging from plain lands, open grasslands, swamps, valleys, and nullas.

  • Location: Northwestern Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains), Nilgiri District, Tamil Nadu
  • Best Time to Visit: October to May
  • Safari Timing: 06:30am to 09am and 03:30pm to 06pm
  • Safari Cost: INR 135/Person

Final Takeaway

The national parks in Karnataka are the unblemished abodes of Royal Bengal tigers, rare black panthers, Asiatic elephants, a wide variety of bird species, animals, reptiles, and plants. All the national parks offer jeep safari or bus safari, which give you a chance to witness these majestic and ferocious creatures in their natural habitat. These biospheres are tiger reserves under Project Tiger and Project Elephant, and promote conservation of wildlife.

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