The call of the wild is irresistible and if you are a nature lover living in Bangalore, then you are in a great place. The city is close to one of India’s largest, continuous belt of wilderness – the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which spreads all the way from the coastal mountains to the peaks that straddle the Tamil Nadu border. Experiencing these pristine regions is just a short drive away, as you can just rent a car in Bangalore and visit one of many wildlife destinations in the surrounding districts.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Located on the banks of the Kaveri, just 19 kms away from Mysore, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a haven for many rare avian species and a favoured destination for bird watchers and nature photographers. The sanctuary is spread across six islets and was made a protected zone in the 1940s. Besides bird-watching, boating is one of the popular activities in the area and one can enjoy a boat-tour helmed by an expert forest guide. Some of the species found at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary include the painted stork, cormorant, pelicans and more. November to June is considered the best time to visit.
Bandipur National Park
Bandipur used to be a private hunting area for the erstwhile royals of Mysore but now it is one of the last bastions of the original royal, the Bengal tiger. Situated on a plateau with steep ranges reaching 1,400 metres, the rugged terrain of Bandipur is a picture of serenity and danger interwoven into the landscape. Some of the other species in the forest include elephants, gaurs, mugger crocs, the enterprising dhole and golden jackals. Traffic is not allowed from 9 pm to 6 am so keep this in mind when you are traveling around the area.
Nagarhole National Park
Declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1999, Nagarhole National Park is a forested area of high ranges, valleys and a complex riverine landscape that provides a home to tigers, elephants and much more. Straight out of a page in the Jungle Book, the reserve is part of Kodagu district, a 5-hour drive from Bangalore. The nearby region around the Kabini is a great place for leopard spotting and is home to the melanistic variety, the beautiful black leopard.
Dubare Elephant Camp
The Dubare Elephant Camp is a sanctuary to more than 150 gentle pachyderms, many who had lived a lifetime as beasts of burden. Connect with these wise giants in a unique getaway, including elephant baths and feeding sessions.
Step onto a jumbo for a ride around the beautiful forest or you can also hop on a circular boat and enjoy the soothing waters of the Kaveri. Located in the Coorg district, Dubare also features river rafting during the monsoon months. There are many cab services in Bangalore where you can arrange a ride to the scenic region.
Mudumalai National Park
Head over to the ‘blue mountains’ and enjoy the spectacle that is the Mudumalai National Park, home to a large population of tigers. The reserve spreads across 5 separate ranges and other animals that are found here include leopards, striped hyenas, monitor lizards and myriad bird species. The National park encompasses the hills and forests around Ooty, the charming hill-station where you can make a stop and soak in some quaint colonial beauty.
Whether you are a nature photography enthusiast or just someone looking for some peace, the forests of South India take you back into a primeval age, where your alarm is the howling of monkeys and chirping of birds and your schedule involves jungle streams crisscrossing under a canopy of dark green. These experiences are just a short drive away. Online cab booking in Bangalore can be done with a couple of clicks. All you need to do is pack your bags and look forward to a rejuvenating trip to the jungles of the Western Ghats.