Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in
the Sahyadri Hills of Western Ghats and is one of the most popular tourist
attractions for residents of Pune and Mumbai. The sanctuary is spread over an
area of 120 sq. km and is home to rare endemic species of squirrel, Indian
Giant Squirrel. In addition to this, the sanctuary is rich in diverse forms of
fauna and flora and is considered one of the biodiversity hotspots of the
world. The region is also home to 14 scared groves which are believed to be
thousands of years old and the parent trees of several other floral species
found in the area.
The lush green rainforests of the sanctuary
will mesmerize you with its scenic beauty and serene ambience will soothe your
senses. The dense jungle is popular for fun-filled and adventurous trekking
activities. The meandering trek trails provide the trekkers with an opportunity
to explore the wildlife in a unique way. There are no restrictions to enter the
conservation area, however, permission is needed from the concerned forest
department authorities to visit few places after the sunset.
Apart from trekking, you can also opt for car
safari rides. Specific route is assigned for safari ride which allows the
visitor to get a close encounter with various animals. For those who are
religious, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated
within the sanctuary premises. At Bhimashankar Sanctuary, you will get an
amazing opportunity to explore the wildlife and spend some quality time with
family and friends by organizing a picnic perhaps.
More on Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Flora and Fauna at Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary has a rich
natural heritage and is a natural habitat to several species of flora and
fauna. The rainforests here is home to diverse species of animals and birds and
hence, is considered to be one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. The
region was designated as a sanctuary in the year 1984, especially to conserve
the exotic endemic species of squirrel, the Indian Giant Squirrel. The forest
here is packed with evergreen and deciduous trees and there are 14 scared
groves which are believed to be thousands of years old.
As you trek along the hilly terrain of the
sanctuary you might spot various terrestrial animals including Mouse Deer,
Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Golden Jackal, Indian Pangolin, Common Langur,
Striped Hyena, Leopards, and several species of reptiles and insects. The
rainforests of this conservation area is a popular spot of bird watching.
Various species of birds fly to this area such as Black Eagle, Malabar
Whistling Thrush, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Grey Junglefowl, Quaker Babbler, Green
Jungle Safari at
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
For those who do not prefer walking, there is
an option of exploring the sanctuary through safari rides. Various options of car safari rides are
available at the sanctuary and you will have to choose the type of car safari
ride you want. The safari ride is executed in batches via government-regulated
routes which in turn gives the visitors an opportunity to explore the deepest
parts of the jungle.
As you delve into the deeper parts of the
jungle, you might spot various animals such as barking deer, sambar deer,
hyena, leopards, and langur. If you are lucky, you can also get a glimpse of
rare Indian Giant Squirrel.
The safari rides timing is 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
The per-person cost depends upon the type of vehicle you choose. For instance,
the per-person cost of motorbikes is INR 10, INR 50 for light vehicles and INR
100 for heavy commercial vehicles.
Trekking in Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
For those who are adventure enthusiast, they
should travel to Bhimashankar Sanctuary for a weekend and undertake trekking in
the dense rainforests of Sahyadri hills. The trek trails are characterized by
rocky terrain, steep slopes, narrow and slippery pathways. There are two trek
routes, Sidhi Ghat route and Ganesh Ghat route. Both the routes start from the
village named Khandas, however, Sidhi Ghat route is difficult and shorter in
comparison to Ganesh Ghat.
The former trek trail is steep, tricky and a
few places you will have to use a ladder to climb, therefore, beginners are not
advisable to opt for this trek route. Contrarily, Ganesh Ghat route is simple
to climb and can be used by individuals belonging to any age groups. There is
also a shrine situated in the midway of Ganesh Ghat trek route. The view from
the top of the hill is enchanting and Nagphani and Paddar Killa Rock Tower can
be seen en route.
Major Attractions at
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhimashankar Temple: Nestled amidst the dense forest is the
Bhimashankar Temple, which houses one of the 12 Joytirlingams dedicated to Lord
Shiva. There is no reliable source that states the year of construction of this
temple, however, as per the local folklore, the shrine was built in the 12th
century. The architecture of the temple reflects a perfect blend of Indo-Aryan
style with a slight influence of Rajasthani and Gujarati architectural style.
Interiors of the shrine are embellished with inscriptions that depict instances
from Hindu mythology and scriptures.
Bird Watching: A section of this sanctuary has been declared
as an Important Bird Area under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This area is
home to several endangered, threatened and vulnerable species of birds
including Malabar Pied Hornbill, Wood Pigeon, Greater Spotted Eagle, Nilgiri,
Vultures, etc. The region is indeed a paradise for those who love bird
Picnicking Near Hanuman
nearby to the main area of the sanctuary is the Hanuman Lake. The green
meadows, cool breeze, and the serene beauty around the lake makes it a perfect
spot for organizing picnic.
Sacred Groves: You will be intrigued to know that the
rainforests here is home to 14 sacred groves which are thousands of years old
and are believed to be the genetic pools of many species of flora and fauna
found in the region. For this reason, the sanctuary has been a focal point of
biological and ecological study and research.
Fireflies’ Festival: Every year, before the monsoon begins, the
Bhorgiri village is lit with thousands of fireflies. You will be mesmerized by
the sight of fireflies hovering and settling on the ground. The locals
enthusiastically celebrate this natural and beautiful phenomenon as a festival.
Tips for Visiting
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
1. Plan your trip to Bhimakshankar during
monsoon or right after the rainy season to enjoy the raw beauty of the forest.
2. You will need to complete a few formalities
and present official documents to the forest department authorities before you
enter the conservation area.
3. It is advised to go on a trek in groups and
always stick to your group since the forest is wild and not safe in case you
get lost in the interiors of the woods.
How to Reach Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary?
The nearest major city to Bhimashankar
Wildlife Sanctuary is Pune and it is well-connected with roadways. Both private
and public bus services are available to reach the location. You can also hire
a private taxi to explore the region. Make sure your driver is well-acquainted
with the directions inside the sanctuary.