Wildlife & National Parks

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary – Unexplored, Wild & Lovely!

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary or Bhadra Tiger reserve is an unexplored wonder indeed. We always wanted to go here. Every time we crossed Tarikere on our innumerable trips to Shivamogga, we wanted to do this. And of course we wanted to see the tiger. But somehow it never happened.

Good news and update – Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary has started day safaris and one needs to buy tickets at the counter. See more details in Travel tips section.

This time around, we had some work in Tirthahalli which had to be done before rains. Since there was nothing else on the agenda, we decide to give a shot at visiting Bhadra Tiger reserve on the way. Poorna calls up River tern lodge – the lovely backwater resort by Jungle Lodges in the sanctuary – on Friday to check if there was any scope for getting a seat in their vehicles for safari. The resort is full and hence the answer is a big NO.

But the staff are kind enough to pass on the number of the Forest department and ask us to check if they can help. Poorna calls the number. We are asked to call them before our departure from Bengaluru and they would let us know if the vehicle would be available. The department do not organise any safaris and help the interested travellers to see the sanctuary if any spare vehicle is available.

We keep our fingers crossed even as we start early morning from Bengaluru. We have plan B if we get NO as the answer from the Forest guys. The breakfast at our favourite adda “Shark Food Court” is fixed. Our affair with tasty Thatte idli and Masala Dosa in Shark continues. After break fast, Poorna calls them and voila, the answers is YES!!.

“Be here @ sharp 4” says the officer.

“Yes Sir”

We could not wait anymore. We had to kill time till 4 PM. A friend who is with us had not seen Halebid and we offer to take him there. An hour spent in Halebid, we drive to Lakkavalli, the start point, through Chikamagalur and Tarikere. The recent rains in the region has turned landscape beautiful. The winding roads from Chikmagalur to Tarikere is just fantastic. The landscape as we descend from the ghat is lovely. We have lunch  – packed in Chikmagalur – under a lovely banyan tree on the way.

We reach in time at the start point – the forest department office in Lakkavalli. We meet Mr Chengappa, the Range Forest Officer. A friendly officer, he ask us to pay the safari fees and provide us a Jeep.

A drive of two KMs through paddy fields brings us to the entrance of the sanctuary. A huge gate welcomes us. We are now excited to enter the forest with a hope of sighting the big cat. We know that good rains in the past week means the chances are bleak. But one never know. Tiger sighting is all luck. We have experienced that in many tiger reserves we have been. We hope for the best as we bid good-bye to the guard at the gate and enter the forest.

Hop on with us for a safari through the jungles of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.

Bhadra Tiger Reserve

A short drive from the Forest Department office to the gate take us through lush paddy fields

Bhadra Tiger Reserve

The entrance gate of the sanctuary.


Bhadra Tiger reserve

We now enter the sanctuary. We could see the result of copious rains in the last few days. We could see tall trees flanking the mud jeep trail.

Bhadra Tiger Reserve

It is green and dark with tall trees all around. Rains has filled the water holes and ponds have come to life.

Bhadra Tiger Reserve

The first glimpse of the backwaters. Wow! we all exclaimed when we saw this. Who doesn’t!

Bhadra tiger reserve

The back waters of Bhadra dam is vast. Krishna our driver cum guide tells us that after monsoon, the complete grassland areas will be submerged in water.

Bhadra tiger reserve

Krishna says that in summer, one can see elephants feeding on the grass next to the water. Summer rains has spoilt that opportunity for us. We wait but don’t see any.

Bhadra Tiger reserve

We could see deer grazing merrily on the grassland…..

Bhadra Tiger reserve

Dense forests form the backdrop of the backwaters.

Bhadra Tiger reserve

We could see some lovely peacocks as well…. 

Bhadra Tiger Reserve

We drive through some pristine jungles with tall trees. These are semi deciduous jungles with pockets of Sholas.

bhadra tiger reserve

The British built bungalow in the middle forest. It is used by Forest Officers on duty. We took a break here. Govindaraju – check out his encounter with tiger in the video link provided at the end of this post – gave us one of the best black tea we had ever had!

We spend two hours inside the forest. To say it is beautiful is an understatement. Yes, we did not see the Tiger. Damn tiger sighting. The forest is one of the best we have seen. The piece de resistance being the mind-blowing beautiful backwaters of Bhadra.

We will sure return after the rains.

Travel Tips

  1. Lakkavalli is 15 KMs off the Bengaluru – Shivamogga highway after Tarikere. Look out for signage for River Tern lodge signage. Lakkavalli is at a distance of 240 KMs from Bengaluru. the road condition is excellent.
  2. The forest department have now started day safari. See details below. 
  3. The is also good option to stay in lovely River tern lodge operated by Jungle Lodges. Safari is part of the package. They will also take you for a boat safari which should be a lovely experience.
  4. Tiger sighting is always luck. Otherwise Bhadra Tiger Reserve has an excellent wild life.

Have you been to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary? What has been your experience? We would love to know.


Please Check out this excellent documentary by Prashanth Nayak on Bhadra Wild Life Sanctuary 

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