Must Visit

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

4.2 / 5 58 votes


Weather:

Time Required: 2-3 hrs

Timings:

6:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee
Two-wheeler riders: INR 10 per person,
Four-wheeler riders: INR 50 per person,
Heavy vehicles: INR 100 per person
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Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhimashankar Overview

Originally to safeguard the natural habitat of the endemic species, Indian Giant Squirrel, Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary has now become a major tourist attraction of Pune and Maharashtra on the whole. The densely forested area is spread over an area of 120 sq km on the Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri Ranges. The place is mainly famous for being a home to many endemic and pandemic animal and bird species including the Indian Giant Squirrel. It is so rich in flora and fauna that it is considered to be one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. The reserve is also known for being the home of 14 sacred groves which are said to be thousands of years old and responsible for the origin of many species.

The forest sanctuary seems to have something for everyone. You can enjoy trekking through the well-marked and safe routes within the dense forests, taking in the sheer beauty of nature and experiencing it from close quarters. Anyone is allowed at any time, but with permission of the authorities and certified guides, that too in certain places after sunset, for obvious reasons.

If walking is not your forte, you can always opt for the safari car rides and have a glance at the wilderness in its true form from within the safety of the car. In case you are a spiritual person, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (major shrines of Lord Shiva) is situated within the large stretch of the jungle. There are areas of the forest that are ideal for a day's picnic too. In short, Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect choice for a quick and eventful weekend trip.

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Bhimashankar Sanctuary is home to a host of flora and fauna and is one of the main biodiversity hotspots of the world. It attained the official tag of a Sanctuary in 1984, but the vast expanse of lush greenery along the slopes of Sahyadri is an ancient spread of woods rich in evergreen and deciduous trees which have stood there for years providing food and shelter to a good many living and breathing creatures.

Among terrestrial animals, there are Leopards, Sambar, Striped Hyena, Golden Jackal, Barking Deer, Common Langur, Wild Boar, Mouse Deer, Indian Pangolin and various species of insects and reptiles as well. The forests are especially a paradise for bird lovers with a population of avian as diverse as Quaker Babbler, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Green Pigeon, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Black Eagle, Grey Junglefowl and so on.

If you are not an adventurous one at heart, do not worry, you can still enjoy the interiors of the great woods. All you need to do is pay some bucks for your choice of vehicle and stick to the Government regulated routes for jungle safari. The forest is thick, green and moist and full of deciduous and evergreen trees common to Indian jungles. With a bit of luck and patience, you might be able to witness many common animals like barking deer, leopards, wild boar, sambar deer, hyena and langur as well as some not so common ones. You might even get a glimpse of the rare Indian Giant Squirrel - State animal of Maharashtra.

The safari rides are open from 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM and the per person cost is INR 10 for motorbikes, INR 50 for light vehicles and INR 100 for heavy commercial vehicles.

The sanctuary offers an exotic location for trekking through dense forests, narrow lanes, steep and often slippery walkways, rocky undulating terrains and small hilly streams. There are two routes that travellers usually follow to trek. The more difficult of the two is the Sidhi Ghat Route from Bhimashankar to the village of Khandas which gets its name from the three step-like structures that the trekkers need to cross in the trail. It is tricky and treacherous, with slippery, uphill walks suitable for the trek veterans. The downhill trek is called the Ganesh Ghat Route which is named after a Ganesh temple that falls on the way. This is easier than the previous one, but it makes up in its sheer exuberance of nature. The Paddar Killa Rock Tower and Nagphani Peak can be seen en route.

Jyotirlingam - Bhimashankar Temple: Hidden in these dense forests is a Shiva temple, which is the sixth Jyotirlinga of the 12 existing ones. It is believed to be built in the 12th century CE. However, no material remains have been found belonging to that period. The temple is built in the Indo-Aryan style and has Gujarati and Rajasthani influences. Interiors of the complex have many inscriptions relating to Hindu mythology and epics.

Bird Watching: A part of the forest has been declared an Important Bird Area under the WPA, 1972. The area provides a home to many endangered, threatened, critical and vulnerable species of birds like Greater Spotted Eagle, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, vultures, Malabar Pied Hornbill and many more. It is a heaven for those who take an interest in avian studies - for academic purposes or simply out of hobby.

Picnicking Near Hanuman Lake: Cut off from the density of the forests, the banks of Hanuman Lake offers lush green rolling plains for peace-loving families to conduct a small picnic, surrounded by the serene view of the lake, nestled within the wooded Sahyadri all around. If you are lucky, a squirrel or two might pay you a visit.

Sacred Groves: The forest has around 14 sacred groves of trees, which are believed to be the origin place and genetic pools of many species of flora and fauna. Thus, they provide a great place to conduct some ecological and biological study and research - for educational purposes or simply to witness patches of land which have witnessed times older than 1000 years.

Fireflies' Festival: Every year, before the advent of monsoon, the Bhorgiri village comes alive with thousands and thousands of fireflies settled on the ground, hovering in the air or lighting up the trees around. It is a breathtaking sight to witness. The locals celebrate this miraculous incident ad a festival, as it only happens once every year.

1. Visit during monsoon or right after the rainy season to enjoy the true beauty of the forest.
2. Always make sure you have proper permission papers from the forest department to enter the forest.
3. You can befriend and ask the locals to take you around for an afternoon walk. They know all the right places where animals can be seen.
4. If you are trekking, it is preferable you go in a group and do not leave the group or go off the route. The forests are wild and not safe just in case you wander into the core parts.
5. If you are taking private vehicles, make sure your driver is well acquainted with the wild hilly roads.

Pune is the nearest town to the forest and the sanctuary itself comprises of many small villages and hamlets. The main road outside the forest is connected by many public bus service that ferry passengers to near and far towns. You can hire a car which will drop you off at the various locations, as per your choice. Since the area is of 130 square km, there are different spots for each of the activities. Just let your driver know which one you will be doing.

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