On a pleasant morning, when we were in Mysore, my sister-in-law’s family decided to go for a drive to Nagarahole National Park. Without any planning, we got ready for the ride through the forest which is not very far from their home.
About the National Park
Nagarahole belongs to the Kodagu and Mysore districts of Karnataka state. The name derives from Kannada words – naga meaning snake and hole meaning river or stream. It is declared as a national park a few years back. This wildlife reserve is a habitat for a large number of animals like tigers, elephants, Indian bison, etc. The overall area of this national park is considered to be around 643 sq. km. It is also called Rajiv Gandhi National park.
Timings and the route
We got to know from the Nagarahole website that the safari timings inside the national park are 6.30 AM to 8.30 AM and 3.30 PM to 5.30 PM. We opted for the afternoon safari and left from home at around 12.30 PM. The destination was only an hour from my sister-in-law’s home. We traveled via Hunsur and reached the forest entrance area at around 1.30 PM. A beautiful road was awaiting us once we entered the forest. One can never forget the amazing experience of riding through this road. A well maintained narrow road is covered by dense green forest on both sides. We kept looking for the animals to show up. In the initial few kilometers, we did not see any animals. But, after some time, we could see many beautiful deer grazing fearlessly. We were all excited to see them. Little Avyukth and Ayush were happier than us. As we continued our journey, we saw too many deer. They were all happily eating their food without any fear.
At around 2 PM, we reached the place in the forest where the jungle safari starts. This safari is organized by the forest department of Karnataka. As we mentioned above, the timings are 6.30 AM to 8.30 AM and 3.30 PM to 5.30 PM. They will take the tourists in the minibus for which the cost is 300 Rs/person for Indians and 1,100 Rs for foreigners. They also have a jeep service, but it is costlier than the minibus service. Also, note that the safari may get canceled at any time due to bad weather, nonavailability of vehicles, etc. Though the safari timing was 3.30 PM, luckily, when we went, they were providing the safari tickets at 2 o’clock itself. This made us very happy. Even the crowd was less at that time. Soon, we bought the tickets and entered the minibus. Once the bus was completely filled, the safari started.
The mini-bus went on the narrow rough road which was going through the dense forest. All of us on the bus were eager to see the wild animals, but unfortunately, we could not get a chance to see any animal except for langurs. The safari was for 1 hr, we felt really sad that we could not see any wild animals. Maybe it was the afternoon time which made animals not show up. After an hour, we returned to the ticket counter where the safari started. The weather was extremely beautiful. We spent some time in the forest, near the ticket counter, enjoying the weather and clicking photos. When it started to drizzle, we left the place.
Back to the car
It started to rain heavily on our way back and the forest route looked even more amazing in rain. We were up for a big surprise while returning. After a few kilometers of drive, we came across Indian Bison grazing road-side. We never saw this wild animal at such a close distance and that too it was not just one bison. There were around 10-15 bison in a group. The sadness of not seeing wild animals during safari, suddenly disappeared from our mind. After some distance, another surprise. An elephant was walking along the road side with its two kids. Since the elephant was near the house of forest authorities, we did not dare to stop the vehicle there.
Note: No good restaurants available after you cross Hunsur. So, plan accordingly.
The hidden treasure
Not many people know that there is a beautiful Tibetan palace near Nagarahole. In fact, we also did not know about it until we saw the signboard while going to Nagarahole in the morning. We decided to visit this place if time permits. After we exited Nagarahole national park campus, in around 2-3 kms, we took a right turn towards Kurubarahosahalli. After the right turn, the Tibetan palace is just about 5 kms and the road is a bit narrow but is maintained very well. You can find Tibetan people in large numbers throughout this stretch. In fact, you can find only them. We followed Google maps and reached the palace.
Tibetan Palace (Dzongkar Choede Monastery)
The palace campus is extremely clean and peaceful. It is also called as Dzongkar Choede Monastery. Since this place is not very popular, there was very less crowd. Apart from us, there were only Buddhist monks and few other Tibetan people. There are many student hostel rooms surrounding the palace (monastery). When we went there, it was their prayer time. So, many monks gathered inside the palace and were doing their prayers. They closed the entrance to the palace, so we could not go inside. Many Tibetan kids were happily playing in the campus. Few Buddhist elders were offering their prayers. The environment made us feel that we have arrived at a very different place, far away from our home land.
After spending some time in the campus, we started from there at 6 PM and reached home at around 7.30 PM. Thanks to Srinivas Thanthri and Supriya Thanthri for organizing such memorable trip.Route Travelled:
Route we took
Vijayanagar (Mysore) > Hunsur > Nagarahole > Tibetan Palace (Dzongkar Choede Monastery) > Vijayanagar (Mysore).
Total Distance (To & Fro): 135 km
Photos: Nagarahole Photos