Top 10 Elephant Reserves Near Bangalore
This article will give you the top 10 Elephant Reserves near Bangalore where you can do a weekend getaway easily (some of them are a long weekend getaways and are mentioned) plus get to sight an Elephant. All are approximately 4 to 5 to 7 hours drive from Bangalore and are within 220-300-400 kms range.
Please note: The forest department has classified only a few of them as official Elephant Reserves but we have included all those where sighting of an Elephant is an almost surety and where a large number of pachyderms are found there.
Below is our Top 10 Elephant Reserves near Bangalore
1. Kabini Nagarhole
240 kms south of Bangalore – 5 Hrs Drive
Kabini is not spoken in the same breadth as of the top tiger reserves in the country but it is as good if not better than any in the country. Almost unknown in the outside world but the most popular one among wildlife photographers (and they have kept it to be unknown for a reason I think).
I have been to Kabini umpteen times and I have never missed sighting an Elephant here.
Actually Nagarhole is the national park and the southern part of it which is on the banks for the river Kabini (Kapila) is called Kabini. Nagarhole or Nagarahole is named after Nagarahole (Cobra river in the local language, Kannada), a winding river which runs eastwards through its centre. Situated in the two districts of Mysore and Kodagu in the state of Karnataka. It was originally constituted into a sanctuary in the year 1955 covering an area of 258 sq. Kms and subsequently enlarged to include the adjoining areas of Mysore district and now extends over an area of 643.39 sq. kms which was given the status of a National Park in 1983.
The birth of Nagarhole National Park can be traced to the notification of 285 Sq. km. Game Reserve way back in 1955, which included the reserve forests of Arkeri, Hatgat and Nalkeri in Kodagu. Subsequently, in 1974, reserved forests from the adjoining Mysore district were added to the Nagarhole Game Reserve, which was upgraded to the status of a National Park covering 643 sq. km”.
Kabini is 240 kms south of Bangalore and very well connected by good roads and approx. 5 hrs away. It is approx. 70 kms south of Mysore. Kabini is not just an Elephant reserve but also a Tiger Reserve and a Leopard lair and the only place where you get to see Black Panther (if you are super Lucky)
2. Bandipur National Park
230 kms south of Bangalore – 4.5 Hrs Drive
Bandipur is one of the most popular national parks of the south and is an Elephant reserve along with being a Tiger reserve. Again, as in Kabini, I have been here many many times but missed just twice not sighting an Elephant. Almost surety of sighting an Elephant here.
The Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore created a sanctuary of 90 km2 (35 sq mi) in 1931 and named it the Venugopala Wildlife Park. The Bandipur Tiger Reserve was established under Project Tiger in 1973 by adding nearly 800 km2 (310 sq mi) to the Venugopala Wildlife park.
Bandipur National Park located where the Deccan Plateau meets the Western Ghats and the altitude of the park ranges from 680 meters (2,230 ft) to 1,454 meters (4,770 ft). As a result, the park has a variety of biomes including dry deciduous forests, moist deciduous forests and shrublands. The wide range of habitats help support a diverse range of organisms. The park is flanked by the Kabini river in the north and the Moyar river in the south. The Nugu river runs through the park. The highest point in the park is on a hill called Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, where there is a Hindu temple at the summit. Bandipur has typical tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry and hot period usually begins in early March and can last till the arrival of the monsoon rains in June.
3. Nagarhole National Park Coorg
236 kms south west of Bangalore – 5 Hrs Drive
While Kabini is the southern part of Nagarhole and is located in Mysore District, Northern Nagarhole (which is popularly known as just Nagarhole) is in Coorg District. Again been here many many times and never missed an Elephant. Forget going on a safari, just the drive crossing the forest from Veerahosa halli gate to Nanchi Gate itself is a safari where I got to see almost all times elephants either grazing or crossing the road in herds. [to understand gates location, download WildTrails India App]
[Image Credits Vyshak]
Nagarahole is named after Nagarahole (Cobra river in the local language, Kannada), a winding river which runs eastwards through its centre. Situated in the two districts of Mysore and Kodagu in the state of Karnataka. It was originally constituted into a sanctuary in the year 1955 covering an area of 258 sq. Kms and subsequently enlarged to include the adjoining areas of Mysore district and now extends over an area of 643.39 sq. kms which was given the status of a National Park in 1983.
The birth of Nagarahole National Park can be traced to the notification of 285 Sq. km. Game Reserve way back in 1955, which included the reserve forests of Arkeri, Hatgat and Nalkeri in Kodagu. Subsequently, in 1974, reserved forests from the adjoining Mysore district were added to the Nagarahole Game Reserve, which was upgraded to the status of a National Park covering 643 sq. km. “Geographical Location of Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole National Park is located at a 50 km (31 ml) from the major city of Mysore. It is situated between the two districts of Mysore and Kodagu in the state of Karnataka. The park stretches at the foothills of the Western Ghats spreading down the Brahmagiri hills and south towards Kerala state. River Kabini separates the Nagarhole National Park from the Bandipur National Park. Lakshmana and Teentha rivers flow nearby the Nagarhole National Park and the entire park area is enveloped in greenery and flora with waterfalls adding to its beauty truly makes the Nagarhole National Park a beautiful habitat for wildlife animals.”
4. Bhadra Tiger Reserve & Wildlife Sanctuary
283 kms north west of Bangalore – 5 Hrs Drive
Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the midst of Western Ghats in Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts of Karnataka.The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary boasts of a substantial tiger population It was declared as the 25th Project Tiger of India in 1998. Kallahathigiri is the higest peak in the sanctuary with a height of 1,875 Mts. Kemmannugundi and Bababuden Hills, are within the sanctuary. The lush green vegetation and lofty hill ranges are a beautiful and spectacular.
It is a dense forest and again been there many a times and have sighted an Elephant I say 80% of the times (ofcourse in the other 20% of the times I did sight the big cats – tigers and leopards 🙂 )
[Photo Courtesy Kiran Sadananda]
The wildlife sanctuary is called so after the Bhadra River which flows through the lush forests. The lush green vegetation of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary consists of mostly moist and dry deciduous forests. More than 120 species of trees grow here, which include Teak, Rosewood, Mathi, Honne, Nandi, Tadasalu and Kindal. Bhadra is popularly known as Muthodi Wildlife Sanctuary, after the village on its fringes.
5. BRT Wildlife Sanctuary
190 kms south of Bangalore – 4.5 Hrs Drive
The Biligiri Rangana Temple (BRT) Hills, commonly called BR Hills or BRT Hills, is a hill range situated in south-eastern Karnataka, at its border with Tamil Nadu (Erode District) in South India. The area is called Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or simply BRT Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a protected reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Being at the confluence of the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats, the sanctuary is home to eco-systems that are unique to both the mountain ranges. The site was declared a Tiger Reserve in January 2011 by the Karnataka government, a few months after approval from India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority. The hills are located at the easternmost edge of the Western Ghats and support diverse flora and fauna in view of the various habitat types supported.
Another Sure sighting of Elephants here, Never missed a elephant sighting whenever I had been there.
A wildlife sanctuary of 322.4 square kilometres (124.5 sq mi) was created around the temple on 27 June 1974, and enlarged to 539.52 square kilometres (208.31 sq mi) on 14 January 1987. The sanctuary derives its name Biligiri (Kannada for white rock) from the white rock face that constitutes the major hill crowned with the temple of Lord Rangaswamy or from the white mist and the silver clouds that cover these hills for a greater part of the year. The hills are in the Yelandur, Kollegal and Chamarajanagar talukas of Chamarajanagar District of Karnataka. They are contiguous with hills in Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Erode District of Tamil Nadu to the south. By road, they are about 90 kilometres (56 mi) from Mysore and 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Bangalore. The road leading to the village on top of the hills may be approached either from Yelandur or Chamarajanagar.
6. Mudumalai National Park
240 kms south of Bangalore – 4.5 Hrs Drive
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park is situated at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka on the North Eastern Slopes of the Nilgiris part of Western Ghats descending to the Mysore Plateau. An erstwhile game reserve, Mudumalai was declared a wildlife sanctuary with a 62 sq KM area in the early 1940 by the then Madras Presidency. With Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Karnataka) in the north, and Wynad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) in the west the region forms a single, continuous viable habitat for a varied range of wildlife and is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. While Mudumalais western half receives the southwest monsoon, the eastern tracts receive the relatively gentler north-east monsoon which results in a diversity of vegetation types and typical migration of herbivores.
Theppakadu, is the Reception Point, where acomodation, Van rides and Elephant rides are arranged.
Ombetta vayal – swampy area is mid way between upper Kargudi and Mudumalai gamehut is a place to lookout for elephant and Indian Bison [Gaur]. To sight an elephant or even a herd of elephants, safari is not a must here, just take the road from Gundlupet in Karnataka to Ooty in Tamil Nadu and you cross two forests – Bandipur and then Mudumalai and you missing sighting of an elephant is almost remote.
Mudumalai approached from Teppakkadu or Kargudi is a mixture of deciduous and grass area and rewarding with all the herbivores and carnivores. Benne is grass, bamboo and teak area with Sambar, Elephant, Gaur, Bear and Tiger. Scenic spots in the sanctuary includes the Moyar River-gorge and the Chief Minister’s Watchtower, view point at Kargudi and the Ombetta Lake. The van rides in Sand Road, Circular Road, Manradiar Road, Jayadev Avenue, Bombax Road, and Public roads . Kakkanalli – Torapalli road, Teppakkadu – Masanagudi road, Moyar – Masanagudi road are rewarding places to see most wild life in the Sanctuary
7. Dubare Wildlife Sanctuary
240 kms south west of Bangalore – 4.75 Hrs Drive
Dubare is known for its elephant camp, a forest camp on the banks of the river Kaveri in the district of Kodagu, Karnataka. It is an important base for the Karnataka Forest Department’s elephants.
The elephants for the Mysore Dussehra were trained at Dubare elephant camp. At present, after logging operations have ceased, the elephants have been practically retired except for giving some rides to tourists.
In addition to the elephant training camp, Nisargadhama and Veerabhoomi are the other main attractions of the forest area.
There are opportunities for trekking, elephant rides, fishing, and river rafting. These activities are hosted by tourism department. The Forest Department also conducts some treks along well-defined routes. The moist deciduous forests of Dubare are home to many wild animals and birds. Sightings of wild Asiatic elephants are regular and so is spotting the sambhar, the spotted deer, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, and gaur. Bears are also seen in these forests. Crocodiles can be seen in the river. The forests are also home to many reptiles and non-venomous snakes. Birdlife in Dubare has peacocks, partridges, kingfishers and woodpeckers topping the list.
The three-hour elephant interaction is destined to be the most unforgettable experience at Dubare camp. It kicks off with a 45 minute bath in the Cauvery, where you scrub an elephant and groom with oil from close proximity. You can also participate in feeding the elephants with ragi, jaggery, sugarcane, banana and coconuts. And finally, take a 45 minute elephant ride into the jungle. Rides around the camp can be arranged between 10 AM and 12 noon and between 4PM to 5 PM.
8. Kali Tiger Reserve & Wildlife Sanctuary
450 kms north west of Bangalore – 7 Hrs Drive (good one for a long weekend)
It’s in the new name for the fusion of two jungles, namely Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Kali/Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka state in India. The sanctuary covers an area of 866.41 km2 (334.52 sq mi). Along with neighboring Anshi National Park (339.87 square kilometres (83,980 acres)), the sanctuary was declared part of the Anshi Dandeli Tiger Reserve in 2006. Karnataka state government has officially notified the Dandeli Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant on 4 June 2015. The elephant reserve is spread over 2,321 sq km, including 475 sq km as core and the remaining as buffer areas. This is the second elephant reserve in Karnataka after Mysuru Elephant Reserve, which was declared in 2002. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a birdwatchers paradise, housing nearly 200 species of Birds, most famous for the Great Hornbill (Great Indian Hornbill or Great Pied Hornbill ) and the Malabar Pied Hornbill. It is also the only known Tiger Reserve in India to report frequent sightings of the elusive Black Panther. It is also know to house the Indian Sloth Bear, the Indian Pangolin, the Giant Malabar Squirell, Dhole, the Indian Jackal and the Muntjac (Barking Deer).
Sightings of the Indian Elephant [Every time I am there, I am almost greeted by an Elephant to start my Safari] and the Indian Peafowl are pretty common. The King Cobra and the Mugger (Indian Crocodile) are the prime reptilians in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. The forests in Dandeli are a mixture of dense deciduous trees interspersed with Bamboo and Teak plantations.
9. Muthunga & Tholpetty Forest, Wayanad
240 kms south west of Bangalore – 5 1/2 Hrs Drive
Muthanga and Tholpetty forests in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are the foremost and targeted tourism destinations in Wayanad District. Muthanga and Tholpetty are the two ecotourism centers in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Visits to these ecotourism centers provide unforgettable wilderness experience, frequent sightings of free ranging wildlife like herds of elephants, guars, deers, monkeys, tigers, leopards, bears, many species of reptiles, fishes, butterflies, birds including vultures etc, valuable nature education information from interpretation centres etc Medicinal plants garden, Birth Star Plants (Zodiac Plants) Garden, Muthanga Elephant Camp with 3 tuskers and one female calf, traditional tribal folk lore etc are other attractions in Muthanga.
Elephant is actually the main attraction here and you will hardly miss the elephant and they are in plenty here.
Ecotourism in Muthanga and Tholpetty is much helpful in creating deep conservation awareness in the minds of visitors. It is much educative and recreational too. It is a main source of livelihood income for local tribes including tourist guides. Ecotourism in these two centers are managed by Muthanga and Tholpetty Eco-Development Committees (EDCs) under supervision of Kerala forest department. Tholpetty sanctuary is located 20 km east of Mananthavady, 13 km from Thirunelly on the Kodagu Road.
10. [Readers alert me what I might have Left out!!!!]
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