Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest reserve in the Pune district of Maharashtra, India. It is mainly known for its conservation of the Indian Giant Squirrel, which is also the state animal of Maharashtra. It is also a part of the Western Ghats, one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots of the world. In this article, we will explore the location, timing and entry fees, things to do and see, and the significance of this sanctuary. Visit during Mumbai to Bhimashankar One day Trip By cab
Location, Timing and Entry Fees of Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Ambegaon and Khed talukas of Pune district, in the Sahyadri hills. It covers an area of 131 km2 and spreads over three districts: Pune, Raigad and Thane. The sanctuary can be reached by road or by rail. The nearest railway station is Karjat, which is about 60 km away. The sanctuary is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm every day. There are no entry fees for visiting the sanctuary.
Things to Do / Must See of Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Some of the things to do and see at the sanctuary are:
- Spotting the Indian Giant Squirrel: The main attraction of the sanctuary is the Indian Giant Squirrel, which is a rare and endangered species of squirrel. It is also known as Shekru in Marathi and has a distinctive black and orange coat. It can grow up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 2 kg. It lives in the canopy of the evergreen and semi-evergreen forests and feeds on fruits, nuts, flowers, and bark. It is shy and elusive and can be seen mostly in the early morning or late evening.
- Exploring the flora and fauna: The sanctuary harbors a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including many endemic and threatened species. The sanctuary has more than 900 species of plants, including many medicinal and ornamental plants. Some of the prominent trees are mango, jamun, hirda, beheda, shisam, kumbha, etc. The sanctuary also has more than 200 species of birds, including many migratory and endemic birds. Some of the notable birds are Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush, quaker babbler, black eagle, etc. The sanctuary also has more than 40 species of mammals, including leopard, wild boar, barking deer, langur, rhesus macaque, etc. The sanctuary also has many reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, insects, and fish.
- Trekking and camping: The sanctuary is also a popular destination for trekkers and campers who want to enjoy the scenic beauty and adventure of nature. There are various trekking routes that lead to different places in the sanctuary, such as Nagphani Point (also known as Duke’s Nose), Bombay Point (also known as Sunset Point), Gupt Bhimashankar (a hidden shrine), Vanaspati Point (a botanical garden), etc. The trekking difficulty level ranges from easy to moderate to difficult. The sanctuary also has various camping sites where one can stay overnight in tents or cottages and experience the wilderness.
Significance of Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is not just a sanctuary for nature and wildlife lovers. It is also a place of historical and cultural importance. Some of the reasons why this sanctuary is significant are:
- It is a part of the Western Ghats: The Western Ghats are a mountain range that runs along the western coast of India. They are recognized as one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots of the world by UNESCO. They have a high degree of endemism (species found nowhere else) and diversity (variety) of life forms. They also play an important role in regulating the climate and water resources of India.
- It is a part of the Bhimashankar Temple Complex: The Bhimashankar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that lies within the sanctuary. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (most sacred shrines) of Lord Shiva in India. It is believed that Lord Shiva killed a demon named Tripurasura here with his trident and released a stream of fire that formed the Jyotirlinga at Bhimashankar. The temple is also associated with many other stories, such as that of Lord Shiva saving the sage Kaushika from a demon named Bhima, that of Lord Shiva blessing the king Kamarupeshwar with a boon of immortality, and that of Lord Shiva appearing in a dream to a woodcutter and guiding him to find the Jyotirlinga.
- It is a place of pilgrimage and spirituality: The temple is also a place where many pilgrims and devotees come to seek the blessings and grace of Lord Shiva. The temple is especially crowded during the festivals of Mahashivaratri, Shravan Maas, and Tripuri Poornima. The temple also has many other shrines dedicated to other deities, such as Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman, Goddess Parvati, etc. The temple also has a holy pond called Mokshakund, where it is believed that one can attain salvation by taking a dip.
Information of Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary that has something for everyone. It is a place where one can experience nature, wildlife, history, and culture. It is a place where one can witness the power and glory of Lord Shiva. It is a place where one can have fun and adventure. If you are planning to visit Maharashtra, don’t miss out on this sanctuary.
Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest reserve in Maharashtra that conserves the Indian Giant Squirrel and other rare species. It is also a part of the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, and the Bhimashankar Temple Complex, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The sanctuary has various activities and attractions for visitors, such as spotting the squirrel, exploring the flora and fauna, trekking and camping, and visiting the temple and other places of interest. The sanctuary is also a place of historical and cultural significance, as it is associated with many legends and stories of Lord Shiva.