Located on the banks of Kabini River, around 70 kilometers from Mysore in Karnataka, Kabini is known for its natural beauty as well as its abundance of wildlife. It adjoins the Nagarhole National Park, which is part of the Project Tiger initiative, and has one of the healthiest tiger-predator ratios among wildlife parks in India.
Kabini can be accessed by road from Mysore. Besides a rail head and the nearest airport at Mysore, many domestic and international carriers operate flights to Bangalore, which is 208 kilometers away and a 3-4 hour journey by road.
Accommodation at Kabini includes basic eco-friendly lodges to more luxurious resorts by the river, both of which offer the chance to experience life in the wilderness from a safe distance and with a few creature comforts. Besides an open jeep safari in the Nagarhole National Park, Kabini offers visitors a range of activities, including day trips to nearby national parks, temples, plantations and waterfalls, besides trekking, fishing and bird watching.
Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere, which includes forest areas in the Western Ghats that run through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Some of the area of the park lies in Mysore district while other parts are in the neighboring Kodagu District. Spread over an area of 248 square miles, the park is separated from Bandipur National Park by the Kabini reservoir.
With its abundance of wildlife, including tiger, bison and elephants, the park was the hunting ground of the Wodeyar kings of Mysore, until 1955 when the government declared it a wildlife sanctuary. Subsequently, its status was upgraded to National Park in 1988, and in 1999, it became a tiger reserve under the management of the Project Tiger program.
Open jeep safaris in Nagarhole are the highlight of a visit to Kabini. With several streams running through the forests, the park has an abundance of flora and fauna. The clumping bamboo along the riverbanks and the beautiful flowering trees, including Golden Shower, Flame of the Forest and Indian Laburnum, add a splash of color to the park.
With lush greenery and water sources throughout the forest area, the ecosystem at Nagarhole supports the highest density of herbivores in all of Asia. This includes big herbivores such as elephant, chital, sambar, gaur, wild pig, langur and macaque. The presence of a high density of herbivores in turn contributes to the large population of carnivores, including tiger, leopard and wild dogs.
The park is open from 6.00 am to 6.30 pm throughout the year, except during the monsoon and the mating season. Weather-wise, the best months to visit the park are from November to January. The summer months are warm and dry, but this also increases the chances of wildlife sightings as animals visit the water sources more frequently.
Near Beechanahalli Village in Heggadadevanakote Taluk, the Kabini Dam is on the itinerary of most travelers because of the scenic beauty that it presents. It’s also a paradise for birdwatchers, as over 250 species have been spotted in the surrounding area. The dam, which was built in 1974, is 696 meters long and has a catchment area of 2141.90 square kilometers. Spread over an area of 55 hectares that include forests and hills, it is a tranquil and picturesque spot.
At an elevation of 1,608 meters above sea level, the Brahmagiri Mountain range, which lies on the border of Kodagu district, has a popular trek route that runs through the forest up to the peak. It is possible to trek to the peak from either Kerala or Karnataka. However, trekkers need a special permit from the Range Forest Officer. The trek from Karnataka passes Irupu Falls and Munikal Caves. On the Kerala side, the Thirunelli Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a pilgrimage place. Besides the spectacular view from the top, the abundance of wildlife along the way adds to the charm of the trek.
Located within the Kabini area in the southernmost part of the Kodagu District, Kutta is a small border village that connects Kerala to the Kodagu district in Karnataka. In addition to providing an entry point to Nagarhole National Park from Kerala, the town also offers access to the coffee and spice plantations of Coorg.
Kabini is perfect for a couple of days for getting away from the bustle of Indian cities to relax amidst gorgeous scenery. While it offers activities such as jeep or elephant safaris, boating and trekking for tourists who look for adventure, the tranquil scenery also makes it ideal for a quiet holiday spent bird watching or fishing. For those who want a glimpse into the local culture, exploring the villages or the temples in the area can be an interesting experience. Its rating as one of the best wildlife getaways in India makes Kabini a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.