Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary – The Essential Travel Guide

Spot Billed Pelicans in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

In the Mandya district of Karnataka near Srirangapatna, lies the birding paradise of the state, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. It is spread over 0.67 sq km along the banks of the river Cauvery, one of the noted Indian rivers.

There are six islets in the river that serve as a breeding ground for umpteen native and migratory birds. This place is popularly known as Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka.

The sanctuary gets its name from Sri Ranganathaswamy, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. If you are contemplating a visit to the sanctuary, this detailed travel guide can help you plan an unforgettable trip.

A Quick Glance Through

Brief History

A weir (small dam) constructed across the Cauvery river led to the formation of islets of Ranganathittu. In the 16th century, it was built by Kantirava Narasaraja Wodeyar, the then ruler of Mysore.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary owes its existence to the renowned ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali. He noticed the presence of a large number of birds in this area during a survey.

On his request, the King of Mysore established it as a bird sanctuary in 1940. The sanctuary is now managed and maintained by the Karnataka Forest Department.

How To Get There

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is easily accessible by road from Mysore (19 km) and Bangalore (129 km). It lies 5 km off Mysore road after crossing Srirangapatna if you are driving from Bangalore. 

It takes roughly 15 minutes to reach the sanctuary from Srirangapatna. Many buses ply from Mysore to Srirangapatna, including Karnataka State Transport and private buses. By cab, it is a 45-minute drive to the sanctuary from Mysore.

Srirangapatna Railway Station is the nearest railhead with direct train connectivity from Mysore and Bangalore. Mandakalli Airport in Mysore is the nearest airport.


You can use this map for driving direction from Srirangapatna to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

Birding in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Set amidst the scenic lush green gardens, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a delight for birders and wildlife photographers. The unique riverine habitat of Ranganathittu boasts of more than 200 species of migratory and native birds.

Open Bill Stork in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Open Bill Stork

It serves as a winter home for migratory birds from places, like Siberia and Latin America. A boat ride in the serene waters of the Cauvery river offers fabulous opportunities for birdwatching.

Boating is a must-do activity in the sanctuary. As the boat sails close to the islets, you can get mesmerising views of flocks of beautiful birds.

Painted Storks in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Painted Storks

Painted stork, spot-billed pelican, Eurasian spoonbill, open-billed stork, bar-headed goose and black-headed ibis are some of the commonly spotted migratory birds in the sanctuary.

Great stone plover, Indian river tern, different types of kingfisher birds including pied and white-breasted and many other resident birds nest and breed in this area.

Indian Pond Heron
Pond Heron

Waterfowls, such as pond herons, cormorants and cattle egrets are pretty common sights when you are enjoying your boat ride. Keep your DSLR camera ready so that you don’t miss capturing any birding moment.

Indian Cormorant

In addition to birds, you may see marsh crocodiles (muggers) in the water. The sanctuary is known for harbouring the largest freshwater crocodile population in the state. Bonnet macaque, common mongoose, river otter and fruit bats are also found here.

Once you have finished boating, enjoy a nice stroll in the garden. There are a few benches in the garden, where one can just sit back and reconnect with nature.

Best Time To Visit

Migratory birds start arriving in the sanctuary with the onset of winters. The best time to visit the sanctuary is from November to March if you are going there for migratory birds. 

The monsoon season from June to October is the nesting season for waterfowls. But boating is usually not available during this time owing to the rise in water level of the Cauvery river.

Where To Stay

There is no lodging facility in the vicinity of the sanctuary. Srirangapatna is the nearest town for booking accommodation. You can stay in Mysore or Bangalore as well. An early morning drive from Bangalore is roughly 3-hour long.

Nearby Places To Visit

The historic town of Srirangapatna is worth visiting, given the glorious past of this place. Srirangapatna was the capital of Mysore under Tipu Sultan, a great warrior and ruler of Mysore Kingdom during the 18th century. 

Srirangapatna Fort, Daria Daulat Bagh Palace and Tipu Sultan Gumbaz (The Mausoleum of Tipu Sultan) are the main heritage sites in the town.

An ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ranganathaswamy is also a popular attraction and draws many visitors.

A 30-minute drive from Srirangapatna takes you to Mysore. If you have a day or two to spare, then you can visit this heritage city.

It is known for its palatial edifices and beautiful gardens. Some of the noted attractions here include Mysore Palace, Brindavan Gardens and Jaganmohan Palace.

Check this post, if you want to know more about all the major attractions of Mysore: Top 10 Tourist Places in Mysore to Visit.

Travel Tips

  • A private boat ride is better if you want to take a lot of photographs, but it is much costlier. So, you can choose depending on your budget.
  • Charges (As on January 2020)
    • The entry fee per person is Rs. 70 for Indians and Rs. 400 for foreigners.
    • The car parking charge is Rs. 50 per vehicle.
    • Shared boat ride per person costs Rs. 70 to Indians and Rs. 400 to foreigners. The ride duration is around 30 minutes.
    • A private boat ride lasting roughly 45 minutes costs Rs. 3000.
    • If you are carrying a DSLR Camera, then you need to pay additional charges depending on the lens size.
  • There is only one eatery near the sanctuary and the choice of food is very limited. In case you miss your breakfast at the hotel, you can have it here.

Over To You Now…

This well-preserved riverine island is a favourite haunt of birdwatchers in the state. Have you visited Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary? Tell us in the comment section below.

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