What can be a better way to experience a place if not through the biodiversity it offers? Known for its richness in flora and fauna, experiencing Karnataka is incomplete if you have not been among the wildlife of the state. Especially the western ghats of Karnataka prove to be a hotspot for the variety of birds, animals and plants. Even today, due to many unexplored places still present in the region, new species of flora and fauna are found here. It is like a paradise for wildlife lovers, explorers and for people who are looking to connect themselves more to nature.
With around 20 major wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, Karnataka is a place one must visit if you really want to explore different kinds of species, experience the greens closely and connect or reconnect with mother nature. Here are some of the places you have to visit to get one of the best experiences in wildlife:
Nagarhole National Park
Known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole is one of the most famous Tiger Reserves in South India. Located in the Kodagu and Mysore district along the Western Ghats and Brahmagiri Hills, it is a prominent part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Offering a sight to behold for nature lovers, it is home to various species of flora and fauna. The major animals that are found here are Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Sloth Bear, Striped Hyena, Elephants, Chital, Sambar Deer, and Barking Deer. Besides, the park is filled with sandalwood and teak trees.
In 1955, the park was set up as a wildlife sanctuary, but with time the area increased and it was upgraded as a national park in 1988 and later as the 37th tiger reserve of India in 1999. Currently, it is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for a World Heritage site.
Besides the biodiversity offered by this national park, the rich history behind the establishment of the national park is something you should experience whenever possible. The government offers many lodges within the national park for you to stay with all the facilities you need within the forest. If you are keen on experiencing Karnataka to its fullest, Nagarhole National Park is one such place for you!
Kudremukh National Park
Named after one of the most famous peaks of Southern India, Kudremukh, the national park is located at the Chikmagalur district in Karnataka. Kudremukh means horse-face which is the shape of the highest peak within the forests of the park and known for the amazing trekking experiences one has there. But the major reason you should visit the national park is the biodiversity it offers.
Home to the lion-tailed macaques, the park also is a sanctuary for animals like tiger, leopard, wild dog, Malabar giant squirrel, common langur, sloth bear, gaur, porcupine, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, jackal, giant flying squirrel and the mongoose. Besides, the plantations of eucalyptus, casuarinas, acacia auriculiformis and Grevillea Robusta are also found here.
To experience nature to its fullest, the best way is to stay inside the forests of the National Park, hence the Karnataka government has constructed many lodges for the tourists inside and near the jungles of the Kudremukh National Park. There are many Forest Rest Houses as well for the tourists to have a comfortable stay.
Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
Surrounded by serene hills all around like the Mullayanagiri, Hebbegiri, Gangegiri and Bababudangiri hills, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is one experience you cannot miss. Getting its name from the Bhadra river, the sanctuary is now one of the most famous tiger reserves under the Project Tiger in Karnataka.
Offering a variety of over 120 species of flora spread across the land, the sanctuary is a habitat for tigers, gaur, elephant, wild boar, sloth bear, black leopard, jungle cat, jackal and other such animals along with many reptiles. Besides, there are more than 200 species of birds alone flying across the jungle! The sanctuary is also home to the largest teak tree in the state called the Jagara Giant, which has a girth of 5.1 m with a height of 32 m and is assumed to be 400 years old.
A perfect place to spend time with your family and friends, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is something which all generations can enjoy. While kids with their ever curious minds could discover various species of animals and birds, adults can go on hiking and trekking to get their adventurous selves out. Meanwhile, the elderly can just stay inside the rest houses, hotels or resorts inside the forests to relax and experience the tranquil environment there.
Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary
Deriving its name from Goddess Mookambika, the presiding deity of the famous Mookambika Temple at Kollur, in Udupi district, Coastal Karnataka, Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary is a place for all the explorers curious to know about various endangered and rare species of flora and fauna.
Being a protected sanctuary of the Southern State, the wildlife sanctuary is home to some majestic animals like Slender loris, lion-tailed macaque, sambar, chital, sloth bear, gaur, wild pig, sambar, barking deer, otter, porcupine, tiger and leopard. Besides, there is a treat for all the bird-lovers since birds like Myna, Drongo, Brahminy Kites, lapwings, Hornbill, Bulbul, Egrets, Kingfishers, Golden Oriole, Magpie Robin, Purple Sunbirds wtc. Are also found within the forests of the sanctuary.
With many attractions nearby to give you the much-needed break from the daily chaotic life of the cities, Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary is a gem when it comes to experiencing Karnataka for its biodiversity. If you are looking to stay here, go for the stays available at Kollur. There are many places where you can check-in, forget about the rest of the world for a while and explore nature all around you.
Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
Flourishing with plenty of flora and fauna, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary got its name from the Brahmagiri Peak which is a part of the forest. The lush green landscapes of the sanctuary along with attractive waterfalls within is nothing less than a sight to behold.
Located along the Western Ghats in the Kodagu District of Karnataka, the Brahmgiris is famous for trekking within the forest and towards the peak. However, you need to take permission from the authorities to do the same. Animals like bonnet macaque, common langur, barking deer, mouse deer, Malabar giant squirrel, the giant flying squirrel, lion-tailed Macaque, jungle cat, sloth bear, porcupine, pangolin and many more birds and reptiles are found here.
To stay within the forest, there are Forest Rest Houses only, built by the government with staff to cook and look after you during your stay. Besides, you can also stay in various kinds of homestays in the Coorg district to experience the whole area as a vacation and adventure place.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary
Created exclusively for the preservation of the sloth bears in 1994, the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary is Asia’s first sloth bear sanctuary. Located in the Ballari district of the state, the sanctuary is very close to the World Heritage site of Hampi and has a rich mythological history to its fame straight from Ramayana!
Along with the obvious presence of a huge number of sloth bears which can be usually found within the caves of the sanctuary, other animals which can be spotted in the forest are jackals, black-naped hares, leopards, wild boars, pangolins, mongoose, hyena, lizards, porcupines, peafowl with more than 70 species of birds!
There are many jungle lodges and resorts within the sanctuary where you can stay and spend time with your family or friends or even alone but with a bunch of sweet little animals and birds around you. Staying and pondering over the Ramayana’s connection to a sanctuary is something which you wouldn’t have or rarely experienced, that too in the wildlife!
Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Uttar Karnataka, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most ideal destinations for wildlife and nature lovers. Just over the River Kali, this sanctuary is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in the state.
A paradise for birdwatchers, Dandeli houses more than 200 species of birds including the Blue-throated Barbet, Great Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Peregrine falcon. Besides, many animals and reptiles such as barking deer, bison, Indian Mongolian, black panther, sambhar, tiger, leopard, elephant, flying squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel, different species of snakes and crocodiles can also be spotted deep into the jungles.
There are various camps and tents in and near the sanctuary where you can stay. Besides, there are many lodges and resorts as well especially made for tourists and explorers to have one great experience within the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.
Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary
Known for Barapede Caves, the only known breeding area of the Wroughton’s free-tailed bat, Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary is a place that is a must-go for explorers and wildlife travellers. It is located in the Khanapur taluk at the Karnataka-Goa border in the Belagavi district.
The sanctuary is famous for the presence of tigers, leopards, gaur, sloth bears, sambar, spotted deer, chitals, foxes, wild dogs, king cobras, elephants, and other threatened species of mammals, birds and reptiles. As for flora, it is famous for the existence of medicinal plants in the forest.
There are various activities which you can take part in including adventurous camping, climbing and exploring the Bhimgad fort and researching its history, taking the jungle safari or merely relaxing amongst the serenity of the forest. There are many jungle lodges and resorts where you can stay.
Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary
Very close to the Kudremukh National Park and the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, which is famous as the King Cobra research station, Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary is something no one would recommend you to miss. With a guarantee of thrills, excitement, adventure and simultaneously peace and relaxation, this sanctuary is a must go.
Home to many animals such as Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Ussuri dhole, Indian elephant, Indian jackal, Asian palm civet, Indian crested porcupine, sambar, Indian spotted chevrotain, gaur (Indian bison), Black-naped hare, Indian giant flying squirrel, king cobra, etc, the sanctuary amazes you with the variety of flora and fauna one can sight there.
Besides the wildlife, the place is full of adventure sports such as river rafting and trekking. Along with it, one can also do camping, river bathing and go around the King cobra research station to satisfy their curious minds!