The monsoon season is when most national parks close their gates to visitors. The rains in the north are quite heavy, and this makes safaris almost impossible, giving a welcome respite to the jungle residents. However, this is not the case in South India. Monsoon gives Bandipur National Park a lovely makeover, and the comparatively milder rains make the Southern forest safari-friendly. If you want to see a lush green jungle, head to Bandipur anytime between July and September; you won’t be disappointed.
While it’s not a great time for cats, it is quite amazing when you see tigers and leopards against this green contrast. Anyway, let’s forget about big cats for a second. The real showstoppers of the monsoon seasons are the gigantic herbivores of Southern India. Bandipur is one of the best places to sight the largest extant bovine today, the Indian Gaur. Visit this park in the rainy season if you want to see these beasts in herds.
Monsoon also gives one a good opportunity to photograph the jungle’s commoners while they’re amidst a very beautiful habitat.
As a forest, Bandipur is dominantly a dry deciduous forest that comes alive in the monsoon season, and this is why I make it a point to go there during this time every year. Similar was the trip to this green paradise last July. The feeling of heading into the jungle on a dewy morning is just sublime. I spent two days in the forest and got see the herbivores take center stage, and boy did they look good!
Apart from the Gaur, there’s one more majestic giant that resides here; the Asiatic elephant. Bold, short-tempered, and protective, elephants are not to be messed with. That said, these pachyderms have a lovely gentle side to them too. You can see it in the way they handle their little ones.
Watching the vegetarians of the forest indulge in green treats is a heart-warming experience. My first day in the jungle was all about photographing and observing these beautiful animals as they went about their daily duties. With easy access to water everywhere, the predators of the forest don’t bother stepping out for a drink, which is why one’s chance of sighting a big cat in monsoon is pretty rare.
By the way, did you know that Bandipur is also one of the best places to sight our national bird; the Indian peafowl?
As day one concluded, I recollected some beautiful moments from the day. Next morning, we commenced our drive into the jungle at the break of dawn. I took deep breaths of the forest and tried to make most of the pure air supply while I was still here.
We crossed paths with another jeep that had just seen a sloth bear cross the road. Our interest was peaked. We took the road that the bear had supposedly taken. The winding track took us to an uphill slope, and it was there that we saw this adorable sloth bear.
This ball of fur scratched its back against the tree like there was no tomorrow; what a delight to watch! When the scratching was done, the bear then noticed us and starting running ahead into the forest. Sloth bears are known to be generally shy, and this particular one lived up to the common perception.
With one last look back at us, Bhaloo went back to the safety of the bushes and left me with a memory that I’ll cherish forever.
I’d highly recommend that one visits Bandipur during the monsoon season. You might not see cats, but you’ll leave a happy person. The national park is easily accessible by road from Bangalore (220 kms) and Mysore (80 kms).
Where I stayed: Bandipur Safari Lodge – Jungle Lodges & Resorts – Great food. Great guides. Great rooms. Great safaris!