Kabini is a popular wildlife destination in the state of Karnataka of southern India. The forest reserve forms the south-eastern part of Nagarhole National Park and is situated on the banks of the Kabini River. Kabini is located at a distance of about 80 km from Mysore and 208 km from Bangalore, on the Mysore-Manathavady Road.
The Kabini Forest Reserve derived its name from the River Kabini, a tributary of River Cauvery, which flows through Nagarhole. This forest area was once the private hunting lodge for the Maharajas of Mysore. Later it became a popular hunting destination for the British Viceroys and the Indian royals as well.
In the year 1974, the Kabini Dam and a huge reservoir were built as a part of an irrigation project. As a result, a huge lake was formed and it submerged the village of Mastigudi. The Dam at Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the Beechanahalli village across the river Kabini bifurcate Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks.
The lake formed in Kabini was named as Mastigudi Lake and it is a major tourist attraction. The Mastigudi Lake covers an area of about 60 sq km. When the reservoir at Kabini gets drained out in the summer season, the Mastigudi Temple of the submerged village becomes visible.
The Kabini forest area, consisting of tropical, moist and dry deciduous types of trees, is home to diverse species of flora and fauna. The Forest Reserve is spread over 55 acres of forestland that consists of steep valleys, dense woods and water bodies.
It is estimated that about 250 avian species are also found in this area, some of them being grey-headed fish eagles, ospreys, great cormorants, Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar lark, Malabar trogon, Indian pitta, etc.
The Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary comprises of about 6000 elephants, which is the largest congregation of Asiatic elephants in the world. Langurs, chital, sambar, bison, sloth bear, pythons, crocodile, tiger and leopard are some other inhabitants of this forest reserve.
Kabini attracts tourists and wildlife enthusiasts all round the year. Tourists can opt for Kabini packages which include popular activities like boating, bird watching, nature walks, cycling, bonfires and tribal village visits.
Weather in Kabini is pleasant and warm throughout the year. In summers between March and May temperature shoots up to 36°C during daytimes and can go down to 10˚ C in the night. Ideal time for sightseeing in Kabini is during winters between October and February with the temperature ranging from 26°C to 6°C. Monsoons are usually accompanied with heavy rains. It is better to avoid this place during monsoons i.e. between June and September.
The Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary is considered as the most popular wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, owing to its diverse wildlife and birdlife. Since it is easily accessible from the cities of Mysore and Bangalore, it has become a major destination for weekend getaways.
Bangalore International Airport is the closest airport to reach Kabini, at a distance of 208 km. Tourists can hire a cab from Bangalore to Kabini which would cost around Rs 4000. Bangalore airport is well connected to all the major cities of India and foreign countries.
Mysore Railway Station serves as the closest railway station at about 80 km from Kabini. Mysore is well connected with other cities in India through Bangalore Majestic Rail Head. Tourists can hire taxi or board a bus to reach Kabini from Mysore railway station. Cabs costs about Rs 1500.
There are regular bus services to reach Kabini from all major cities of the state including Bangalore. Bangalore and Mysore are well connected to Kabini by private or government run deluxe bus services.