Maharashtra is a vast fertile area which has plains, hills, fertile farm land and dense forests. Wing to this kind of diverse flora and fauna, the state is home to numerous wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks that are home to exotic animal, bird and plant species. Some National Parks have lakes and reservoirs inside them and some organise treks and camping expeditions that involve safari rides and lake side picnics. Let us look at the top five National Parks of Maharashtra.
1. Chandoli National Park
Located in Sangli district of Maharashtra, the National park is famous for the Sahyadri tiger reserve and the Koyna Wildlife sanctuary. It was established in the year 2004 and is spread over an area of 317.67 sq.km. Located near the Chandoli dam, the Sahyadri Tiger reserve as well as the entire area under the Chandoli National Park was declared as a ‘Project Tiger Reserve’ by the National Tiger Conservation Authority in the year 2007.
Home to 9 tigers and 66 leopards, the area is abundant with forts from the era of Shivaji and other Maratha Kings. The park also has major falls as well as a dam namely; Kandardoh falls, Tanali falls and the Vasant Sagar reservoir, that attract tourist attention. Best time to visit is between October to February while heavy rainfall is usually expected between June to September.
2. Gugumal National Park
Built in 1974, the park is located in Amravati in Maharashtra. It is the home to a variety of diverse flora and fauna like tigers, crocodiles, wild deer and the bison. This wildlife reserve offers a glimpse into the lives of animals and birds in their natural habitat. The hills of the area known as Melghat have the southern deciduous forest which has about 750 different species of plants and herbs. Crocodiles were artificially introduced into the area in 1990 near the rivers that flow through the park. The best time to visit the Gugumal National Park is from March to the month of June.
3. Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
The oldest and biggest national park of Maharashtra, The Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is one of India’s “Project Tiger” reserves. The word “Tadoba” comes from the God named Tadoba or Taru that the Tribal people of the area worship. The total area of the reserve spreads across 1727 sq. km. As of December 2015, the reserve was home to more than 80 tigers which is one of the largest in the entire country.
Apart from tigers, the reserve is home to leopards, Neelgai, sloth bears, jungle cats and spotted deer. The reserve also has a lake which is home to marsh crocodiles. The hilly region is covered with dense forests that are open to the public via jungle safaris which involve trips on open top gypsy cars and buses with trained guides that can be hired by tourists. The nearest airport is Nagpur and the nearest railway station is Chandrapur. Cheap and reliable accommodation is provided by the Maharashtra Government near the park for tourists.
4. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Also known as the Borivali National Park, The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located in the Northern area of Mumbai, Maharashtra. The park is spread acorss an area of 104 sq.km. Known as one of the very few parks surrounded by a city, this park is one of the most visited parks of the entire world. The park is also home to the Kanheri caves that are about 2400 years old and have been sculpted out of rocks. The caves were said to be important Buddhist centres of learning as well as pilgrimage site.
The park is home to over a thousand different plant species and 250 kinds of migratory birds. One of the animals found here is the spotted deer that can be seen drinking water from the stream that flows through the park. Other mammals include Indian hare, barking deer, langurs as well as leopards. The Tulsi lake inside the park has crocodiles as well as pythons, lizards and vipers.
Apart from the flora and fauna, people visit the park for walks and jogs because the park is the largest open green space in the city. The lake covered in mist early morning is truly a paradise on earth.
5. Navegaon National Park
The park is located in the district of Gondia, Maharashtra. The forest resort was built in the 18th century and is popular among tourists. In the winters, different kinds of migratory birds come here to visit the lake. The dense forests can be covered in safaris and accommodation is best in the tree house. The park is considered to be very important in maintaining the ecological balance of the nearby human settlement areas.
Maharashtra is a rich natural reservoir of different types of forests and lakes which act as the home to so many different species of flora and fauna. One really needs to experience it to believe it!