Once the hunting grounds for Mysore Kings, the Nagarhole National Park is one of the best wildlife getaways in Karnataka. The blend of dense jungle and open lands makes it great for sighting different types of wildlife. The park stretches across 250 square miles, and is to home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, as well as leopards, elephants, gaurs, barking deer, wild dogs, bonnet macaques and common langurs, and 270 species of birds. Government-run jeep safaris and boat trips are conducted from Kabini River Lodge.
Mysore is the charming city that was once the Kingdom of Mysore under the Wodeyar dynasty. If in town for touring palace, the famous Brindavan Gardens is a must see as well. Though this terrace garden and public park is pretty in the daytime with Krishnaraja Sagar Dam views, it really comes alive in the evening during the musical light and fountain show (often set to Bollywood tunes!)
The Iruppu Falls in Kodagu District (Coorg) is conveniently located near the Nagarhole National Park, 100 km west of Mysore, and within a scenic 2 to 3 hour drive east from the Madikeri hill station. There is also white water rafting at the Barapole river nearby. The waterfall, especially during monsoon, is a stunning sight. The origination of the falls is noted in Hindu legends: It is said that Lord Rama had stayed in these forests during the period of his banishment. Lakshmana, Lord Rama’s brother, shot an arrow into the forest and Iruppu falls were born!
Called the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore was once the “Kingdom of Mysore” under the Wodeyar dynasty. They ruled from what is now Mysore Maharajah’s Palace (Amba Vilas) – sometimes also called Tipu Sultan’s palace – one of the largest and most intricate palaces in the country. The colors, carvings, armory, and sheer richness inside the palace is striking, but the sound and light show in the evening is equally breathtaking. The palace also has a large exhibition of art from around the world.