Weekend Getaway for Bangalore
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary or Pakshi Kashi is perfect weekend getaway for us Bangaloreans. Especially, it is a delight for those seeking offbeat destinations around the city. Just like Kashi or Banaras, it is a great Teerth (sacred place) for bird watchers and nature lovers. Located in Mandya district of Karnataka, it comprises of six islands in the waters of River Cauvery.
How to reach Ranganathittu from Bangalore and Best Time to Visit
The sanctuary is at a distance of about 130 kms away from Bangalore. It takes about 2 hours and 30 mins to reach there along Bangalore Mysore road. At about 5 kms from Srirangapatna, one needs to take sharp right turn. The sanctuary is 3 kms further on this route.
Ranganathittu Sanctuary opens at 9 am. Reaching there early before 10:30 helps to avoid birds getting distracted from crowds. Hence it is recommended to reach by 9 am to enjoy bird-watching peacefully. We started our day early morning at 5:30 am from Bangalore. On our way, we took breakfast at a quaint restaurant named Malgudi Vattika near Innovative Film City. The restaurant theme is inspired by revered writer R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days. And yes, food tastes good as well!
History and Importance of Pakshi Kashi
We reached the sanctuary at 9 am and gates had just opened. We parked our car and headed to Salim Ali Museum right near the entrance. The museum provided information about the sanctuary and its origins.
Who would have imagined that the construction of a weir (small dam-like structure) on the Cauvery River by the ruler of Mysore in the 1640s would lead to the creation of this bird paradise! During the reign of King Kantirava Narsaraja Wodeyar, the weir on Cauvery River led to formation of islands and islets. These islands provided ideal conditions for nesting and roosting of acquatic and water-dependent birds such as storks, herons, egrets, ibeses and pelicans. Besides, the river and surrounding irrigated agriculture provided excellent feeding grounds supplying plenty of fist. The result is the amazing diversity of birds at Ranganathittu.
The legendary bird watcher and conservationist Dr. Salim Ali was impressed by this little bird paradise during his visit in 1939. At his behest, the Mysore rulers offered protection to it and much later, in 1998 was declared a Sanctuary by State of Karnataka.
The Flora and Fauna at Ranganathittu
There are over 221 species of birds from 60 families recorded at this Pakshi Kashi across its 40 acres. While it is mostly acquatic birds, there are many other interesting bird species to lure bird-watchers. Cormorants, egrets, pelicans, herons, storks, ibises, spoonbills, shore birds or waders, moorhens, ducks inhabit the islands of Ranganathittu. In addition, there are terrestrial bird groups spotted such as partridges, quails, flycatchers, warblers, babblers, cuckoos, sparrows etc.
The best time to visit sanctuary is from December to February when a lot of these aquatic migratory birds fly here for breeding. Another season to visit is during May-June. Of course, there are birds all over the season. But during January-February, one can spot some of the rare species of aquatic birds such as spoonbill, painted stork, white ibis, Asian open bill stork.
While the sanctuary is known for its birds, there are enough species of animals to interest wild life enthusiasts. The sanctuary is home to animals like the Flying Fox, Bonnet Macaque, Indian Mongoose and Mugger Crocodiles. In fact, there are approximately 100 crocodiles in the sanctuary waters.
What to Do at Ranganathittu
The best way for bird-watching is by taking a boat-ride along river bank. The boat-ride takes you to the six islets of the sanctuary. As the saying goes ‘birds of a feather flock together’, each islet has different species of inhabitants. Hence, it was a varied experience for everyone as boat drifts from one islet to another. We definitely recommend everyone to carry their cameras and binoculars to spot rare birds hidden in the flora of islands. Also, there are plenty of mugger crocodiles in the waters. Our boatsman joked it is absolutely safe and crocodiles have never attacked as they are lazy animals.
Boating charges for Indians are Rs.50 per person in share while for foreigners it is Rs.300 per person. The private boat is available for Rs 1,000/- which is perfect for a group of friends or family.
We spent rest of our time picnicking in the sanctuary vicinity.
Food and Accomodation at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
The sanctuary does not have many options for food except for small canteen for snacks. During season, there is sugarcane juice available at Rs.20. There are plenty of good restaurants along Bangalore-Mysore route. We had sumptuous lunch at Poojari’s Fish Land located at about 5 kms from the sanctuary.
As far as accomodation options go, we would recommend tourists to either stay in Srirangapatna or Mysore. There is a pristine health resort named Ozone Resort about 15 mins away from the sanctuary. For past one decade, Kaveri Trail Marathon is held every year in September with base at this resort. Every year hundreds of runners participate in this event. The race route is along picturesque locales of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is 18 kms from Mysore city and 4 kms from the historic town of Srirangapatna. Also, closeby is Vrindavan Gardens of Mysore. A day-visit to Ranganathittu can be combined with either visit to historic town of Srirangapatna or to Mysore.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Entry Fees and Information:
Entry fee for Indians
Entry fee for Foreigners
Private Boat – Rs.1000/-
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Mysore Timings
9 am to 6 pm
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Best time to Visit
December to February and May-June