Originally used as an area for private hunting purposes by the king of Mysore, Bandipur is now known for it’s wildlife reserve. Sometime later, in the year 1931, Bandipur Reserve Forest was built by the Maharaja of Mysore, over an area of 90 square kilometres. Eventually, it was realized that this area was not big enough for the purpose of conservation of wildlife. Thus, the Venugopala Wildlife Park was built here. It extended over an area of 800 square kilometres. Much later, in 1973, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve was built here under Project Tiger. Ever since, it boasts of a rise in tiger population. At present, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve includes wildlife sanctuaries in the neighbouring areas too, such as the Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai National Park and Kerala’s Wayanad.
The location of the reserve between the Deccan Plateau and the Western Ghats along with the altitude of the park all combine to create a perfect habitat for different kinds of flora and fauna. The park is home to a variety of trees which include dry deciduous forests, moist deciduous forests and also shrub lands. In turn, this wide range of vegetation supports the living of different kinds of animals.
There is a good population of endangered species at the forest of Bandipur. The place is most known for Indian elephants and tigers. There are also gaurs, sloth bears, muggers, four-horned antelopes, Indian rock pythons and dholes. Some animals can be commonly spotted in the forest and among them are the elephants, chital, the Indian giant squirrels and the grey langurs. Among the birds, the most common is the peafowl. Other birds include the grey jungle fowl, drogues and undoubtedly crows! Apart from these, Bandipur is also home to over 200 species of birds some of which are indeed rare. There are honey buzzards, flower peckers, hoopoes, brown fish owls, Indian rollers, crested serpent eagles and changeable hawk-eagles, red-headed vultures and Indian vultures. Among the reptile family, the spectacled cobra, vipers, rat snake, the Indian rock python, muggers, Indian chameleon, monitor lizards, agamid, Indian pond terrapin and flying lizards- all reside here.
There are conducted safaris both during the day as well as at night within the park. You can choose to travel in bus, jeep or on elephants. However, the last one is undoubtedly the most exciting. There are group treks within the park, organised by the forest department where you will be under the supervision of an experienced, professional.
The peak time to visit Bandipur is between April and October. There is also a hill, that is the highest point of the sanctuary within the perimeters of the forest and an old fort built in the 13th century.