One of the biggest attractions of Shimoga is the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary earlier known as Jagara Valley Wildlife Sanctuary as is present since 1951. It was in the year 1974 that this was renamed as Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. A place situated just next to the beautiful Bhadra river and Bhadra dam. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected reserve for Tiger since 1998 and is a part of the Tiger Project.
How to reach Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary?
It is very easy to reach Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Buses ply from the Shimoga city and are around 35 km away from the city. Overall the journey is smooth but it will take around an hour of your travel from the city. It is closer from Chikkamagaluru then from Shimoga. If you are staying in both Chikkamagaluru and Shimoga this place is easy to reach. One point to note here if you are traveling via your own vehicle and following Google maps, it shows the wrong location. Search for Forest Department Office because the Safari entry fees and starting point all happens from there.
Things To Do At Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is known for their Jungle Safaris. There are jeeps and buses which are used to conduct the safari. There are two safaris: one in the morning and one in the evening. I had gone for the evening safari. You need a minimum of 6 people for the jeep safari and the cost per person comes to Rs. 450 when there is a minimum of six people. The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is not very famous so the footfall there is very low. There is a chance that you or your group are the only ones coming for the safari. So, care should be taken if you are visiting this place alone. You should be ready to pay for six people or go back without the safari. I was fortunate during my visit because a big batch of school going children along with their teachers were there to visit the safari and I was able to go on the safari with them.
You have to visit the forest department to book your safari and entry fees. It is 5-10 mins away from the sanctuary. You will be taken to the sanctuary in the jeep or the bus depending on what you have booked. The jungle is beautiful and very cool for the month of March. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is known for their Tigers. However, during my safari, I was unable to see any tiger there. I was able to see many Bison, Wild Dogs, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Peacocks, Kingfishers, wild boars, langurs, junglefowl, etc. A week before my visit, they spotted a leopard’s cub and was visible for more than 30 mins and a day before wild elephants were seen during the safari. There are many places where animals could come to drink water which increases the chance to spot wildlife. For entry, there is only one gate to enter the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary.
I was alone and wanted to do the safari. However, the authorities there are not very co-operative and would not like to make adjustments for you. Only after multiple attempts and persistent attitude was I able to make it for the Safari. Tough, I would add that it was not something which was beyond their capacity. The authorities do not speak much Hindi or English, they mostly speak Kannada. If you can speak Kannada and are interested in exploring the place a little more then they do make some more arrangements for you. There was another traveller among us who went to spot more wildlife in the backwater somewhere. However, my lack of the language led me back to my hotel.
When should you visit Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary?
The best time to visit Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is from March to May when the summer is at its best. There is a lot of movement in the forest and it is not as dense as during monsoon and winters. You will be able to spot more wildlife during this time. The timing for safari is 6:30 am to 8:30 am in the morning and 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm in the afternoon. However, depending on the sunlight the timings vary a little.
Final Verdict of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is not the best place for jungle safaris. The authorities are not very co-operative. However, the jungle is beautiful and you can spot some interesting wildlife here. If you are visiting Shimoga or Chikkamagaluru and are a group of more than 3 then it would be wise to consider the jungle safari of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary.