Weekend trip during Pongal 2006. We spent the Makarsankaranti / Pongal festival weekend (Jan 14/15) at the Kabini River Lodge, near the southern boundary of the popular Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka. About 6 hours drive from Bangalore, this is a favourite spot for wildlife lovers throughout the year. The Kabini River Lodge is on the banks of Kabini, once the hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore. This resort is today rated by the British Tatler’s Travel Guide as one of the top 5 wildlife resorts in the world.
Nagarhole, Kannada for ‘Snake River’, derives its name from the winding course of the Kabini river that flows through these forests. The national park runs north from the Kabini river – dammed in 1974 to form a picturesque artificial lake (backwaters). Nagarhole falls in Kodagu (Coorg) and Mysore districts of Karnataka and is about 600 sq. kms of moist and dry deciduous forests (mainly teak & rosewood). Further to the South lies the Bandipur National Park. Nagarhole has an astonishing abundance of wildlife, especially the Asiatic elephant. Nagarhole is best visited at the height of the dry season, when the backwaters recede and offers chances of sighting elephant, gaur (Indian bison), dhole (wild dog), deer, boar, and even the odd tiger or leopard. Nagarhole is also a birder’s paradise has 250+ species of birds. Wildlife and bird viewing is very good from open jeeps – the primariy mode of transport within the park. We could just spend two days and a night at the lodge that involved two jeep safaris in the jungle. The key highlights were a big male leopard during the evening ride (unfortunately facing the other direction for 20+ minutes!) and an elephant charge in the morning! Cheers, –r@mki Jan 18, 2006