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Declared as a bird sanctuary on 1st July, 1940 by the then Maharaja of Mysore, it is an important Asian nesting and breeding ground for migratory birds from across the earth.
The sanctuary consists of a series unconnected clusters of islets in the Cauvery river, formed by the backwaters of the nearby Krishnarajasagar dam. Tourists can take ride on row boats to view the birds and crocodiles. Rs.25/- per person, Rs.10/- for children per half hour. Below 5 years entry is free. The boatman from the forest department will help to point out the birds.
Gendehosahalli, an eastern portion of the sanctuary is less explored by the tourists. But the western portion of the sanctuary attracts a high rate of tourists who come to observe water birds nesting on the island's trees.
The agricultural fields surrounding the sanctuary are host to a variety of aquatic creatures, which are a major source of food for the birds that nest in the sanctuary.
Inside the park, one can see well maintained landscape, tiled pavement walkway, well-maintained parks and sit-outs, lots of benches to sit and relax. Also there is plenty of place to just have a walk or for kids to play. The bird sanctuary witnessed many developmental works including inauguration of Salim Ali Interpretation centre. Best time to visit this sanctuary is June to November.
Most of the sanctuary area consists of riverine forests as well as some deciduous forests. Bamboo, Eucalyptus, Figs, Jamun and Acacia have been planted in the area. The unique species Iphigenia mysorensis is found here. Other species include Terminalia arjuna, Albizia amara, Barringtonia racemosa, Pandanus spp., Syzygium cumini and Derris indica.
The sanctuary attracts breeding heronry birds like Great Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Darter, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Black-headed Ibis and others. Some of the other interesting birds in the sanctuary include Spot-billed Pelican, River Tern, Grey Heron, White-browed Wagtail, Great Thick-knee, Streak-throated Swallow and others. Peregrine are some of the main species of birds that inhabit the sanctuary. Huge colonies of bats can also be seen on some trees.
Mammals in the sanctuary include Small Indian Civet, Common Palm Civet, Grey Mongoose, Eurasian Otter, Fruit Bat and others.
Reptiles include Tortoise, Monitor Lizard, Indian Pond Terrapin, Spectacled Cobra, Rat Snake and some water-snakes. Marsh Crocodile could be seen in the water and basking on rocks.
Visiting Hours : 6.00 am to 6.00 pm
Entry fee: Rs.25/- per person; Parking fee : Rs.30/-.