The tiny 0.67 square kilometer Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a haven for nature lovers and bird watchers. Located in the Mandya district of Karnataka, Ranganathittu is regarded as one of Asia’s most significant nesting and breeding ground for birds. A large number of exotic migratory species visit the sanctuary annually.
Ranganathittu is located on the banks of the Kaveri River. In fact, it was formed when a dam was built across the Kaveri river in the 18th century. This resulted in the creation of six islets on the banks of the river. Fed by the monsoon rains, the river is rich in aquatic insects. This along with the relative isolation of the area, attracted birds and soon Ranganthittu became a favored nesting and breeding site for birds.
The Flora and Fauna at Ranganathittu
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.
The birds that can be spotted include the White Ibis, Lesser Whistling Duck, and Wolly-necked stork, Asian Open Bill Stork, Common Spoonbill and the Painted Stork. These birds fly in from far-away lands and are found at the sanctuary during the migratory season.
Most of these birds can be seen in the sanctuary from December onwards. They breed and stay here until their little ones are ready to fly out. The permanent members of the park include the colorful peacock and kingfisher.
The island was originally covered by a forest comprising of trees like the Terminalia Arjun and bamboo. The Iphigenia Mysorensis – a threatened species of lily – is also found at the sanctuary.
What to Do at Ranganathittu
A spot of bird watching combined with a picnic on the river bank is an ideal way to have fun at the sanctuary. A boat ride along the river bank is also a great experience. As you drift along the six main islets that comprise the sanctuary, you can catch a glimpse of several rare species of birds.
The sanctuary is located 19 kilometers from Mysore city and is close to the historic town of Srirangapatna. So a visit to Ranganathittu can be combined with a spot of history-gazing or with a visit to the beautiful city of Mysore.
The sanctuary is located on the Bangalore-Mysore highway and can be reached easily from both cities. The nearest railway station is Mysore. Accommodation at the resort is rather limited and most visitors prefer to stay at Mysore.
The best time for a visit to Ranganathittu would be between June and November, when there are plenty of nesting birds here. If you want to catch the migratory birds, then you would have to time your visit in the winter months.
The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary was discovered in the 1940s by the well known ornithologist Salim Ali. Since then, it has been on the radar of nature lovers across the country. A visit here, with a tranquil boat drive on the Kaveri River, can be an unforgettable experience.