About 93 km south of Mysuru, Nagarhole National Park is one of Karnataka’s best wildlife getaways. It is home to the beautiful Kabini River, and forms an important protected region that includes neighbouring reserves like Bandipur National Park and the lesser known but worth visiting Biligiri Ranganna Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. Also Read - FIR Lodged Against Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi For 'Spreading Rumours' Over PM-CARES Fund

Officially known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole derives its name from the Kannada words for snake (naga) and streams (hole, pronounced as ho-le), because of the many streams that meander through the 643-sq-km forest.  The lush forest is rich in wildlife; being home to tigers, leopards, elephants, gaurs, muntjacs (barking deer), wild dogs, bonnet macaques and common langurs, and 270-odd species of birds. Also Read - Lockdown 4.0: Reopening Salon in Karnataka? Here's The SOP to be Followed

The best time to view wildlife here is during summer (April to May), though winter (November to February) is more comfortable because of the climate being pleasant. The park can remain closed for long stretches between July and October, when the monsoons wreck havoc in the forest.

Once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of Mysuru, Nagarhole today hosts some of the top wildlife lodges in Southern India. One of them being KAAV Safari Lodge: a kind of designer lodge with open-plan rooms with polished concrete floors, hip bathrooms and spacious balconies that open directly to the national park. They also have a viewing tower to lounge in and an infinity pool to take a dip in. Plus, there’s bicycle tours through the surrounding villages awash in shades of green to the backwaters of the Kabini River and to a nearby Buddhist monastery.

Another grassy embankment overlooking  the scenic Kabini Lake is the stunning Waterwoods lodge. Most rooms in this property  are made with a designer flair; the balconies overlook the lakes, with swing chairs and hardwood floors that complete the look. It’s There’s also an infinity pool, a canoe that you can hire to get a taste of the backwaters and wood-fired pizzas. Then of course, the cherry on the cake would be the spa here with massage rooms, Jacuzzi and a steam bath. Talk about being pampered in a wildlife safari.

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Interiors of Waterwoods Lodge @kabini

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One of the most interesting aspects of this forest is the Kabini Reservoir, a vast watering hole for Nagarhole’s wildlife. You can spot wild elephants and other animals gather on the banks to have a drink of water. Also, the hunter-gatherers and adivasis who’re the traditional inhabitants of the land – Jenu Kuruba people – still live in the park, despite government efforts to relocate them.