Me and my kids always gets excited whenever we make plans for Bannerghatta National Park and we have already visited 5 times in last 1 year. Actually this was one of the negotiating attractions for my kids when we are planning to move from Seattle to Bangalore. While in Seattle, my son always kept asking, “Does Bangalore has Seattle Center”, No, hmm, “does it have snow in winters”. No”, “Rains”, oh Yes, comparable to Seattle, “ a Zoo”, oh Yesss, It has Bannerghatta National Park, which hosts Lions, Tigers, Bears, elephants, dears, bisons and a butterfly park too.
The very first time I visited Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) in 2001 with Nandan and Our latest visit was in 1st week of March 2008, while my cousin visiting Bangalore. We planned to start early so that we reach there by 10:30-11:00 covering around 35 KMS from Whitefield to BNP. Morning is a good time to see most of the animals as after breakfast they love to spend time outside with their family and an “after breakfast nap” (Kya thaat hein, apna to breakfast ke baad BLR ki roads per hi time jata hein). If you reach say by 2:00-2:30 then chances are high that all tickets would have been sold out due to holiday rush.
We reached there as expected, parked the car in a huge parking area, we purchased a grand safari ticket which include trip to watch all the available animals plus Zoo. There are several other options, such as Lion only safari, Lion and Tiger safari, Zoo and prices are different. Well, it was a crowded day and due to that, we waited for about 45 minutes to get on board the safari bus. To my surprise, this time all the buses were new comparing to my last visit, where buses in were very poor condition. Bus is like cage, fitted with grills on windows with a small hole to put your camera lens or barrel of your gun (not allowed but just imagine, you can not even carry any form of plastic). Luckily we were able to find a front seat as these are the best seats to watch all the animals clearly and you can even stare in the eyes of Lions / Tigers (glass ke aage bhi jaali lagi hein, otherwise kis mein himmat hein Lion ki aankhon mein aankh daalne ki).
Me and my kids were excited as we were on the first trip to BNP, I asked my kids to start naming the animals now so that next time we know which animal was missing during the trip. We started the journey, we were in a cage and animals supposed to be roaming freely (ye apun ka ilaka hein boss)
The first park was the residence of Deer (bara-singha), Biason (apna bhensaa), Sambar Deer, they were either taking a nap or still finishing off their breakfast. We saw few of them and moved on to the park of Bears. There are lots of black bears in the park and you can not
miss cousin’s son asked, uncle, when we will see the Lions, I said beta, they are highly paid heroes and they will come in the last, same as Shahrukh Khan who comes at the end of each show.
Next park was of Tigers, you can see lots of tigers here, you would never see in any Zoo. They were grouped with their family. Each family had it’s own territory. Then we moved to white tiger park, it’s a rare specie which you can find only in few places.
Then we moved to Lions park, population of Lioness is more then the Lions, bole to 5 Lioness ke liye 1 akela Lion hi kaafi hein (don’t be jeolous please, wo jaanwar hein). Lions were sitting on the roads, you can directly stare in their eyes, Lion is a very lazy animal, unless bus reaches very close to them, they will not move from there place, or they might be thinking, if possible, driver can take the vehicle from the side. We say a chase where 3 lioness were running after 2 people (must be park workers) and Mr. Lion were backing them. Though, Lioness and park workers were seperated by the barbed wires and they were safe, but everybody could see the feer on their face and joy on our dear friends Lions.
You can take very good pictures, or you can even ask driver / assistant to take pictures and tip at the end of the trip. I got to know from the driver that park was opened in 1971, as Bannerghatta was a jungle area, government converted it to a biological park, where they kept the animals captured from pochers, circus, or injured animals. All the different parks are separated by gates and electrical wirings so that animals do not cross each other’s area. It’s the duty of government to feed them.
There is a jungle lodge as well inside the park, I think this has been opened recently as I never saw it in my last 5 visits. Now the safari is over, it took around 1 hour. While coming back, driver showed us a covered area, where he told that there are about 100+ lions / tigers are there, which were captured from circus and they are under medical treatment. My son reminded to watch for butterfly park, we asked driver to drop us at butterfly park.
This is a recently opened park and you have to purchase a separate ticket for it. This park is also very nice. Butterfly are kept inside a dome, while you walk you can see butterflies flying over you, you have to be very careful with your steps as butterflies could be sitting in your path. You then enjoy butterfly museum, a 20 minute movie on butterfly. Kids were busy watching the butterflies and running after them.
After spending about an hour there we moved down to BNP, Zoo, there you can see white peacock, elephants, you can even take an elephant ride, snakes, birds, crocodiles, gharial (crocodile family animal), a small aquarium is also there.
After watching all the animals, we decided to have food, kids decided to enjoy the swings, slides they found in the park. It was about 4:00 PM when we decided to leave from there and I decided to come once more in summers and will stay in the newly opened jungle lodge.