Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve once used to be hunting Reserve for Maharajas of Kingdom of Mysore. Now the entire region is spread across 3 states, Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, Madumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad National Park in Kerala. All National parks together Reserve the endangered species and flora of Nilgiri Biosphere. During my trip to Karnataka, I visited the Bandipur National Park and paid an evening visit to the Madumalai National Park

Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Bandipur National Park is very close to Mysore (80 km approx) and you take about 3-4 hours to reach. It also comes on your way to one of the major tourist destinations, Ooty in Tamil Nadu. The road is open from morning to early evening to ensure that wildlife doesn't get affected by moving vehicles. However, speeding of vehicle and sudden movement of animals on the road lead to wildlife fatalities. 

The park has been established as a Tiger Reserve under the Project Tiger initiative by the Karnataka Government. Bandipur National Park aka Bandipur Tiger Reserve has managed to save tigers from the extinction and if you are lucky enough, you will be able to spot them in their natural habitant during of the jeep / bus safaris.

Safari:
Similar to any other national park across India, Bandipur National Park also conducts the safaris in the morning and also in the evening. One can either opt for Jeep safari (a little expensive) or go with the economical safari in the bus. These safaris are managed by the forest department in a very professional manner. We opted for the morning safari in the Jeep, hoping to get atleast one Tiger sighting. 


Jeep Safari
Bus Safari
Tiger sighting in the park is not very rare and the probability is around 70%. The driver of our Jeep shared that they have one of the oldest Tiger in the park who is mostly seen by the tourist and he has become one of the friendly ones after getting so much of attention. The Jeep drives across national Park to find not just the tiger, but also sloth bear, deer, cheetahs and other wildlife. 

Our first encounter in the safari was with Sloth Bear, however, he was a quick one to ignore being spotted and I managed to get blur glimpse of him. 

Sloth Bear running away and I managed to get blurry glimpse of him
Unlike any other safaris, you will find plenty of Deer sighting in the park. 

Bunch of deers
I shall walk on my own path - Deer
We also found one Mongoose running across the forest, however, clicking his picture was difficult as he was constantly moving. 

Mangoose running away from being photographed
We waited near the pond in the hopes of thirsty Tiger, still no trace. We managed to see his footprints leading away, only to find endless forest and the stillness of the morning. 

Waiting near the pond for thirsty Tiger
Karnataka is also known for their Elephants and we came across a family heading inside the forest. 

Daddy and Mommy Elephant walking with their two baby Elephants
There are also many species of birds in the forest, though, it becomes difficult to spot them or even capture on camera with a basic zoom lens. My camera only managed to capture Eagle resting on the branch of the tree. 


Managed to get glimpse of Eagle
The park is also the residence of India's national bird, Peacock. You will find them roaming around and if you are lucky, you might see their dance during monsoon season.


Peacock heading to wild
Overall, the entire experience in Jeep Safari was exciting and at times boring when you don't see anything. The weather was chilly and sitting in an open Jeep makes is colder. 

Accommodation: 
Bandipur National Park two categories of accommodation, either expensive or very basic. Most of the resorts are super luxurious one cost approximately 15-21,000 per night including all meals. The basic accommodation will cost around 5000 per night. I managed to find something in between and yet expensive, Country Club Bandipur. Country Club Hotels are spread across India and also in international locations. The membership of Country Club can avail to stay in their hotel against the inventory they get per year. For those who are not members, like me, have to look for their deal online. Some of the rooms of Country Club Bandipur are sold online at approximately 7000 per night including breakfast. 

Restaurant inside Country Club Bandipur
The resort is well located near the park. It is a huge property with facilities like swimming pool, game zone, safari booking and so on. The staff is very friendly and help you with your requirement. Considering the location of the hotel, Country Club provides decent services and cleanliness. During the night, you will see deer roaming around the property or next to your way towards the room. The only down point of the hotel is network. There is no network in the hotel or even in some part of the park. On my first day, hotel wifi was not working making it a completely offline trip to nature. Food in the resort is also good quality with hygiene maintained. Breakfast is not lavish one, but it does offer 2-3 dishes with options like toast and cereal. 

Restaurant: 
There is no stand alone restaurant in the Bandipur National Park. Almost all the hotels offer stay with all the meals, so you don't have to drive all the way to the outskirt of the park to find food. The explicit location and high standard maintained by the Karnataka Forest Department, you stay in the Bandipur National Park will bring closer to the nature with luxury of the beautiful resorts. If you are choosy, I strongly advise you to carry snacks and ready to eat food packets.  

2 nights stay at Bandipur National Park will give you a good option to explore the place well.

Category: Nature and Photography

Location: Bandipur National Park is 80 km away from Mysore and 230 km from Bangalore (closest airport). You can also enter from Tamil Nadu, however, Mysore makes much more sense and less time consuming. 

Time: It is only 2-3 hours away from Mysore. One can also visit Bandipur National Park from Coorg, however, the road is quite long, approximately 4-5 hour journey. 

Carry: For morning safaris in monsoon and winter season can be cold, hence, carry jacket and cap. For afternoon safaris, cap and glares will be enough. Also, be ready with your camera as you will see wildlife at any point of time! 

Few more pictures:



Squirrel heading up and up
Elephant with her babay Elephant leading the way
Peacock
Early morning sun in the forest
One of the top attractions in Mysore is Mysore Zoo, which is also one of the best Zoo in India. Mysore Zoo is a place to see Wildlife up and close. The chances of you spotting tiger in the forest and safari are minimal, however, here you will find them for sure. Personally, I am not a big fan of Zoo because many of them are not kept well and animals look starved. Mysore Zoo is totally opposite of that. The animals are well fed, their cage is clean and they provided enough care.


African Elephant
The Zoo is also big compare to other Zoo in the country. The path is created for people to walk and see the various animals, birds on their way. Few wildlife has given special section for example - birds, snakes, etc. The entire walk is minimum 3 km long. When I started roaming around, I didn't realise the road was that long. The entire path is filled with greenery and shade from the tree. Despite walking in the middle of the afternoon, I didn't find it tiring. You will also find refreshment on the way along with benches for people who are tired from walking and need rest.

Pathway around the zoo
My walk started and I started with the bird section. Recently I have been to Malaysia, however, I didn't manage to see Hornbill and finally I got to see them at Mysore Zoo. 


Hornbill
I also came across eagle, parrots with long tail and many other species of bird (I don't even recall all the names).


Dunno which bird
Eagle
Parrots with long tail
Unknown Bird
Now comes the zone of fierce animals. Even though Cheetahs are fast and dangerous, they in sleeping posture makes them cute. 


Sleeping Cheetah
Fierce when wake up
You will also spot the king of the forest, Lion, having his afternoon rest.

Lioness resting
Moving along, you will encounter our ancestor, Ape. This one quite old compared to other I saw (which I couldn't capture in camera).

Oldest ape in the Mysore Zoo
The stripes make them look interesting and if you have seen 'Madagascar', you will feel excited to see some Zebra
Zebra at Mysore Zoo
I am going away, no more pictures! - Zebra
The afternoon is really a nap time, even if it is a wolf or hyena

Wolf taking a nap
Quiter hyena for a change
They are always in a group and obviously cute, there are various species of Deer, differentiated by the spots and horns.

Deer with spot
Deer without spots
White deer
Cute little deer
Swan swimming around the pond in hunt of food or maybe stretching their wings! 

Couple of them swimming around
Huge in size and calm with their mind, meet the Asiatic and African Elephant. Big one might be scary, but small ones are fun.


Baby Elephant
Walking together
African Elephant
In Spain, there might be sport with the Bull, but in Mysore Zoo, they play the game of relaxation.

Resting Bull, Bull Resting
Big in size and like to be in the water, meet the Rhino and Hippopotamus.

Rhino taking a dip
Hippopotamus eating grass

Dangerous and quite in the water, when attacks, no one can stand his power, you will find them next to dead, Crocodile.  


Dont get fooled, he is Alive !
A creepy area for some, for others venomous, comes Snake zone.

One of the dangerous type of snake
Then comes the bird zone. Bird got enough space to fly around the dome where people can enter and exit at their own time. The doors to this zone is made up of chain curtains so that only humans can get out. 

No PDA Guys!!!
Last, but not the least, wildlife you will come across is Giraffe, they are not easily seen in India and Mysore Zoo has quite a few of them. There is one which is the oldest and tallest Giraffe. Apart from him, many young ones too. They are tall, quiet and calm animal. They are not bothered with anything but their food. 
Female Giraffe
Tallest and Oldest Giraffe
Maybe Male Giraffe
The 3 km or so walk was filled with fun and knowledge. Whether it is kids or an elderly person, everyone will enjoy a refreshing walk around the Zoo. Must visit during your trip to Mysore.
Category: Wildlife

Location: Located in the Mysore city, very close to all major attractions.

Time: You will need minimum 2 hours to walk around the park and see all the animals. For photo bug, you will end up spending more than 2 hours.

Few more animal pictures: