The state of Karnataka is known for its rich diversity of flora and fauna. 25% of India’s Elephant population and 15% of India’s net Tiger population resides in Karnataka. The western region of Karnataka is considered as a Biodiversity hot spot and is marked by the presence of Western Ghats. Talacauvery and Kudremukh, two sub-clusters in the western region, have been shortlisted by UNESCO and will soon be added to the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. Karnataka is blessed with over 5 National Parks, 18 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 9 Bird Sanctuaries. No other Indian state is marked with such an organized presence of flora and fauna.
In spite of the natural presence of biodiversity in Karnataka, a major part of this state is unexplored by the travellers. Karnataka’s National Parks are among the best National Parks in the country. Rich with diverse species of animals, these parks are a pure treat for photographers, conservationists and explorers. Let us have a look at top 5 National Parks of Karnataka.
1. Bandipur National Park
Bandipur National Park was established in 1974 as a major Tiger Reserve under the Project Tiger of Government of India. Bandipur was once a hunting area for the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore and is situated around 204 km from the capital city of Bangalore. Bandipur National Park is spread across 874 square km and encompasses 69 square miles of the protected forest land. Currently, the national park houses over ten thousand animals including Tigers, Vipers, Indian Elephants, Gaur and Dung Beetles.
The reserve forests of Bandipur are often visited for conservation activities like research, species monitoring, habitat management and education. The park authorities offer the facility of online reservation for joining these activities. Bandipur National Park also offers rented rooms for the tourists. So if you want to spend a night in the reserve, you can do it by simply booking a room.
2. Bannerghatta National Park
Bannerghatta National Park was established in 1971 and is one of the most diversely populated national parks of India. Bannerghatta is located 24 km to the South of Bangalore city and spans across 107 square km of land. Although it is comparatively smaller in size but when it comes to the number of animal and plant species, Bannerghatta offers a vast range of flora and fauna.
Indian Leopard, Golden Jackal and Wild Boar are among the major animals that this park houses for the visitors. Bannerghatta National Park also offers some unique varieties of plant species that primarily include: Bamboo Grooves, Deciduous Forest and Thorny Scrubs. Apart from the above mentioned species of plants and animals, this park also houses a zoo, a butterfly park and a biological park. September to January is considered as the best period to visit this place.
3. Anshi National Park
Anshi National Park is spread across 340 square km and is situated almost 509 km from the city of Bangalore. This national park was a part of the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary before it was carved out to form the Anshi National Park. This park is located in the eco-sensitive region of Western Ghats and was granted with the prestigious status of ‘Project Tiger Sanctuary’ in January 2007. Anshi National Park offers a rich variety of animals, plants, reptiles and mammals. Important animal species offered by this park include Bonnet Macaque, Malabar Giant Squirrel, deer, Indian Bison and sloth bear.
Wild animals like leopard, tigers, elephants and reptiles like King Cobra, Python, Rat Snake and Viper are also found in this National Park. This park houses over 197 species of birds and is a wonderful place for those who love bird watching. Anshi National Park is one of the most unexplored places in Karnataka and finds you in its best state during the springtime.
4. Kudremukh National Park
Kudremukh National Park is situated at about 350 km from Bangalore and is the second largest wildlife protected area in the Western Ghats. Kudremukh National Park is known for its lush green hilly terrain which spans across 600 square miles. In this vast spread of unleashed natural beauty, Kudremukh boasts of a huge diversity of plants and animals species. Among the animal species, Bengal Tiger, Sloth bear, Lion Tailed Macaque, Sambar and Porcupine are the major ones and attract most of the visitors.
Among the plants kingdom, Kudremukh is blessed with mostly evergreen and semi-evergreen forests. One can get the best view of the beauty of Kudremukh National Park during the months of November to May. The hilly terrains of Kudremukh are also available for trekking purposes.
5. Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole National Park was initially established as a wildlife reserve and was later converted into a National Park in 1968. This park was an integral part of the Central Government’s Project Tiger scheme till 1999 and gets counted among the best National Parks of South India.
The place is also a home to the widest varieties of Teak and Rosewood trees. It also caters to an expansive plant and animal population. Major animal species found here include Barking Deer, four horned antelope, Indian leopard and Asiatic Wild Dog. Nagarhole National Park is situated around 236 km from Bangalore and is often visited because of its close proximity with the capital. The National Park got its name from a river named Nagarhole or ‘Snake River’ which flows through the park and joins the Kabini river of Karnataka. It is also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park and receives maximum visitors during the months of October to May.
Karnataka is undoubtedly a heaven for the lovers of nature. Blessed with a rich network of national parks and wildlife reserves, this state houses some of the rarest species of plants and animals. If you are planning a visit to Karnataka, make sure that you have the above mentioned National Parks in your list. So pack your bags and start the journey!