Photography - Destination

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary- Karnataka's Heaven For Bird Photography

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Nestled in the course of Cauveri, six patches of islets act as nesting and breeding ground of a plethora of birds and attract a significant number of nature lovers, birders, and bird photographers. Covering only 40 acres of area, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary might not seem an irresistible place to check out but ask any seasoned bird photographer and you will know what this little space can offer.

There are many newbie bird photographers who are still unaware of its majesty; we suggest you reach here, take a boat and pass through the river while on both sides the bamboo and broadleaf forestry beckon you and riot of colorful feathers flash for a while – enough for bird photographers with a DSLR to capture that perfect freeze of wings they have been dreaming about.

Let’s move forward and check out why these small patches of wetlands are so special for bird photography, how they came into being and what you will find here.

Location of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Located at a convenient distance of 7 km from Srirangapatna, 19 km from Mysore and around 135 km from Bangalore, the sanctuary is located in the Mandya district of Karnataka, India.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Consisting of six biodiversity-rich islets in the Kaveri (known as Cauveri now) river course, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is nestled safely away from the human intervention –providing a safe abode to the winged wonders. We are not exaggerating; this mostly wetland and marshy region are dominated by crocodiles and birds that are directly or indirectly dependent on aquatic life.

The Kaveri river map around the sanctuary is attached below for your assistance.

Kaveri river map around the sanctuary
The Kaveri river map around the Sanctuary

How the Sanctuary came into Being

Deriving its name from Sri Ranganatha Swami, an incarnation of the Hindu God Lord Vishnu, the group of islands were formed after a small dam was built across the Cauvery River in 1648 by the then Maharaja of Mysore, Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar. World-renowned birder and ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali while surveying the lands found out that these islets formed a significant abode for both native and migratory birds and it was because of his persuasion that the then Wadiyar king was convinced of declaring this place as a protected Bird sanctuary in 1940.

Currently, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is managed by the Forest Department of Karnataka State and they are striving to expand the area of the sanctuary by purchasing nearby private lands, which is really commendable.

ranganathittu bird sanctuary best time to visit
Layout of the Sanctuary (Source)

How to Reach

By Air: Nearest airport is Bengaluru International Airport

By Railways: The nearest railway station is Mysore. You can reach Bangalore to Mysore on road or on a train. Bangalore to Mysore distance is around 150 km.

Train timings from Bangalore to Mysore are as follows –

  • Shatabdi Exp (Bangalore City Junction 11:00 - Mysore Junction 13.00)
  • Mysore Exp (Bangalore Cantonment 1:50 - Mysore Junction 5.15)
  • Bagmati Exp (Bangalore East 20.05 - Mysore Junction 23.35)
  • Jaipur Mysore Exp (Bangalore Cantonment 12.25 - Mysore Junction 16.20) etc

These are some of the popular routes, however, you can check out the train timings from Bangalore to Mysore of other trains as well according to your convenience.

  • From Mysore City or Srirangapatna, take a Taxi or rented car. Cover Bangalore to Mysore distance of on car along the Bangalore-Mysore highway (Turn sharp right after Srirangapatna and move towards Vrindavan Garden > Turn right after covering 3 km > You will see the signage of the sanctuary).

By Road: Private Bus service is also available to between Mysore and Srirangapatna. After reaching Srirangapatna, take an auto-rickshaw to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

How to Explore the Birding Areas

Boat Tours

The best and the only way to see the feathered friends and get Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary images is by Ranger-guided boat tours. The best time to view the birds is at early morning and dusk. You can also hire your own guide and take the boat ride.

The boatmen here are knowledgeable of the sightings of the birds and will show you around.

Ranger-guided boat tours
Ranger-guided boat tours

Take the boat ride. Weekends can generally be very crowded and the waiting could be very long. The boat rides begin at 8:30 AM. Otherwise, you can also watch birds from the shore, with a good pair of binoculars.

Livingit Fact:
If you do take the boat ride, you get to see a nest with baby birds at eye level.

Other Activities

Apart from enjoying the flora and fauna on a boating tour, you can enjoy sighting wildlife from the “machan”. The Salim Ali Interpretation Centre will show you a four-minute long documentary on the rich biodiversity of the sanctuary

Read Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur: A World Heritage Site for Bird Photography!

Cauveri River Flooding

During rainy seasons, when the Kaveri River System Dam releases upstream water, the islets experience heavy flooding. From the Kaveri River map attached earlier, you can see how much expanse the river has with respect to the tiny islets. Due to frequent flooding, some portions of the three islets have suffered damage.

Boating is not allowed during flooding; however, you can see the nesting birds from a convenient distance – not much but enough for getting some record shots of the birds.

What you can Expect to See

Birds

In winter seasons, more than thirty species of birds from North India, Siberia, North America and Australia flock in Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary due to the favorable weather conditions, tranquillity and least human intervention. It is assured that you will definitely get a whole lot of pictures owing to over forty thousand birds from 170 species of native and migrant birds.

ranganathittu bird sanctuary images
Herons at the Sanctuary (Source)

Painted Stork, Common Spoonbill, Asian Open-bill Stork, Black-headed Ibis, White Ibis, Woolly Necked Stork, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Greater thick-knees, Greater and Little Cormorant, Shag, Oriental Darters, and Herons are the most common sights around here. You will see them in flocks during nesting seasons, rearing up their juveniles.

 You are sure to get some stunning flight shots with nesting materials in their beaks.

ranganathittu bird sanctuary migratory birds
Migratory birds at the Sanctuary

Apart from these, there are partridges running about in the jungles – to photograph them, you have to be swift in pressing the shutter. Peafowls are also seen swaying their feathers, giving an excellent opportunity for bird photography.

On the wetlands, you can spot River tern, Great Stone Plover, Wild duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Spot-billed Pelican and many more.

There are a few kingfisher species namely Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher and Pied Kingfisher. The islets are home to the winter migrant Streak-throated Swallows and Indian Cliff Swallows.

ranganathittu bird sanctuary images
White Throated Kingfisher (Source)

Animals

The most significant is the freshwater Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary crocodiles, known as Mugger or Marsh Crocodiles – seen in flocks or alone in riverine reed beds, basking or wading through the river.

Flying Foxes hanging upside down, frolicking Bonnet Macaque, Otters and Monitor Lizards around water and Martens, Palm Civets as well as Indian Grey Mongoose will peek at you with button-like eyes – perfect for a close-up shot.

Livingit Tip:
Stay safe; beware of crocodiles in the river.

ranganathittu bird sanctuary crocodiles
Crocodiles at the Sanctuary (Source)

Read: Wildlife Photography- Wildlife Photos Tips to Click Fast Moving Animals

Flora

The lush foliage of Broadleaf and Deciduous forests comprising of Bamboo, Arjuna, Acacia, Eucalyptus, Figs, and Jamun are found here along with the elusive and endemic lily (Iphigenia Mysorensis).

While moving through the canopy of trees, take a break from bird photography and photograph the native flora.

Read: Photographing Birds in Flight: Learn How to Shoot Perfectly

When to Visit

Open year-round, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary best time to visit is from January to September. From June to November, you can see nesting birds with their nestlings. From November end to mid-December, the Migratory birds congregate here.

Where to Contact

Check Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary official website (http://www.mysoretourism.org.in/ranganathittu-bird-sanctuary-mysore )

Give a call to +91 9435015419 (Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary contact number)

Entry, Boating, and Parking Charges

  • Entry fee for Indian citizens – INR 50 (Adult), INR 25 (Child)
  • Entry fee for foreign citizens – INR 300 (Adult)
  • Boating fee for Indian citizens – INR 50 (Adult), INR 25 (Child)
  • Boating fee for foreign citizens – INR 300 (Adult)
  • Parking fee for Bus: INR 125, Car – INR 30, Motorcycle – INR 15, Bicycle – INR 5
  • No camera charge, except for Large Video Camera (INR 500)

Additional Details You Will Need

  • Timing: The sanctuary is open from 8.45 am to 6 pm
  • Staying: Reserve any Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary resorts beforehand to avoid hassles during peak seasons. There is no accommodation around the sanctuary; so stay at Mysore or Srirangapatna.
  • Food: The sanctuary canteen near the lake offers food. It sells tea, coffee, and snacks. It is set up in a beautiful way. You can also enjoy sugarcane juice served at the entrance gate for INR 20. No drinking/smoking allowed in the park.
  • Check out the Mysore to Bangalore train timings before checking out from where you stay otherwise in wee hours, there will hardly be any food or accommodation available.
  • Start early to reach the sanctuary at around 7 am as birds are most active in this hour and is the best time for bird photography
  • Early morning, noon and early afternoon is the best time to see Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary Crocodiles basking in the sun. You will get some terrific shots of this mighty beast.

Summing Up

Sprawling over six little islands, the Ranganathittu Sanctuary with its rich biodiversity will show you that size does not matter.

Far from the bustling city, this little space will take you to a completely different world where only birds rule. From the large birds like Storks and Ibis to the colorful ones like the Peacock – birds have their own aura here.

Not only as a delight for bird photographers, as an added bonanza, there are some native animals too for those who love to shoot wildlife. The boatmen will not only provide you information about the habitats of the birds and animals but also take a close distance from where you can shoot crisp and sharp detailed images. Enjoy the boat safari to explore the primitive flora and rich fauna.

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