Midweek discussion to go for a weekend ride with colleagues quickly turned into the concrete plan when all of the riding enthusiastic(s) were sold to idea of driving to Bandipur National Forest.
Bandipur National Park is regarded as one of the most visited and beautiful national parks of India. Settled along the Mysore-Ooty highway in Karnataka, Bandipur National Park encompasses an expanse of approximately 874.2 sq km. Bandipur borders with Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamilnadu, and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala creates the India’s biggest biosphere reserve popularly known as the ‘Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’.
Bandipur was once a private hunting ground for the Maharaja of Mysore. After it was established as a National park, Bandipur is the only place in India where the tiger population has seen the increase in numbers.
We were lucky to get a duo of cottages at the Deep Jungle Home in Madhumalai. Few more friends did show their interest, merely due to non-availability of more rooms at the same spot, they were not able to join.
Day 1 – The route was planned as follows : Meeting Point in Bangalore -> Bidadi -> Channapatna -> Mandya -> Kesare -> Nanjungad -> Gundelpet and finally Bandipur. Tea and lunch breaks were planned, all we had to do was enjoy the journey and the destination.
5 of us set off from JP Nagar Phase 1 at 4:45am and arrived Mysore Road/Nice Ring road around 5:15am where we met the final rider. We went through the trip plan brief; we were shortly on the NH275 towards Mysore. It was still dark and the rain couple of days ago had cooled the temperatures a bit. Driving through Bidadi and Channapatna we took our first break for the tea about 15km before Mandya around 7:00am. We left this spot around 7:30am and drove through Srirangapatna and merged onto the Ring Road 150A from Kesare towards Nanjnagudu. Ring road helped us to bypass all the city traffic and linked us to the NH212. We chose our next stopover for the breakfast about 6km before Nanjnagudu.
After the breakfast and stretching break, we were back on the road towards Gundlupete. The ride on this road was good, with occasional slowdowns due to the road works. We reached Gundlupete around 10:00am. Few miles after Gundlupete the forest area starts with imposed speed limits of 40km. We wanted to go very slow as the road was scenic but couldn’t because we would have caused danger to other traffic.
Shortly after the Bandipur Forest welcome center, we spotted a herd of elephants, delighting the onlookers. Even though the signs are posted at every 10 meters not to stop the cars, but many of the cars did stop to get clearer shots of these wild elephants. A few meters down, we discovered a flock of monkeys being themselves. It’s invariably a fun to look on their pranks and antics. Pushing further along we spotted few deer’s far in the shrubs.
Eventually, we arrived at our destination ‘Deep Jungle Home’ Madhumalai around noon. The refuge itself is set deep in the jungle and was really calm and picturesque. After check-in formalities we planned to get some repose.
Lunch was served at around 2:00 pm. After lunch we enjoyed the facilities in the resort before driving out to explore the local region.
Since the retreat is set bordering the jungle, we were advised to be back before dark. We discovered the local area on bikes, snapped some pictures and were back around 7pm. After dinner we played some card games before calling it a day as the plan was to be up early and get the morning Safari from Masinagudi.
Day 2 – I didn’t like the auditory sensation of an alarm clock going off at 5:30am, but there was no other choice than being ready. After the checkout we made our way to Masinagudi where our driver was wait for us. We all loaded our-self in the Mahindra Jeep and we were on our way to the jungle. First animal we spotted was a deer, who was too shy to come out of the bushes. To our surprise and during 1.5-hour drive through the deep jungle we saw nothing else. It was very disappointing as we didn’t spot any wildlife, however the drive itself through mud, river and uneven surface was pretty exciting.
After reaching back to the village, we had breakfast at the local restaurant and began our journey back towards Bangalore around 11:00am. The first stop we took was after riding approximately 100Km from Masinagudi for light refreshments. The second stop we made near Mandya for lunch and final stop at Anchepalya for tea around 4:30pm.
We covered about 520 kilometers in two days, had heaps of fun and now the plans are ongoing to extend the places like Chikmagalur and Pondicherry.
- Book in advance : There are few good jungle resorts in the area, do the research before booking.
- Private Safari : Try to catch the safari on Bandipur Tiger Reserve
- Stops while driving through the national park : DO NOT STOP. It imposes the danger to animals and yourself. Be Safe.
- Safari Times : Try to get the early morning safari for the best opportunity to spot the wildlife.
- Have fun : Spotting the wildlife depends on luck. Enjoy the surroundings if you don’t see the wildlife.