Maharashtra as a state is blessed with fertile plains, picturesque landscapes and lush green forest areas besides some great national parks in Maharashtra. There are so many sanctuaries and national parks in Maharashtra that take care of nature and provide a beautiful experience to the travellers. The state is filled with some of the best national parks that are known all over the world and also arrange numerous treks along with camping experiences that include safari journeys and picnics. Some of the best national parks in Maharashtra are Chandoli National Park, Gugamal National Park, Tadoba Andhari tiger Reserve, Navegaon National Park, Pench National Park and Sanjay Gandhi National Park. but here are some of the unexplored national parks that you need to visit:
Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary
It lies in the Satmala and Ajantha hill ranges of the Western Ghats in Jalgaon District. The wildlife sanctuary was established in 1986. Sprawling over acres of land with lush green foliage, the sanctuary is especially known for being home to several species of flora, both exotic and rare. Other than flora, the place is also home to wildlife species, among which the most common ones include Panther, Nilgai (Blue Bull), Bear, Wild Dog, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Wild Cat, Bison, Chital, Peacock, Monkey etc. It is also home to several avifauna species like Cranes, Storks, and Spoonbills etc. And also reptiles like Cobra, Krait, Keel black viper, Python, and Rat snake etc. The winters are pleasant and have predictable weather conditions. Other attractions include some of the oldest specimens of rock-cut cave temples in India. These rock cut cave temples, otherwise known as Pitalkhora are located inside the Sanctuary’s premises and are abundant in data for archeological study.
2. Malvan Marine Sanctuary
Sindhudurg in Maharashtra is surrounded by the ocean and there are numerous submerged and uncovered rocks within the region, supplying an ideal substratum for marine life. Malvan is one of the biologically richest coastal areas in Maharashtra. The Malvan Marine Sanctuary is extraordinarily wealthy in coral and marine lifestyles. The marine flora and fauna here pertain to sea anemones, mollusks, polychaetes, pearl oyster, corals, seaweed and mangroves.Sprawled over an area of 29.22 square kilometers, the Malvan Marine Sanctuary, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra can be visited any time in the year. Besides the enchanting coral and marine life at the sanctuary, the golden sands and casuarinas plantations at the Malvan coast form a breathtaking view and are one of the attractions here. The Malvan Marine Sanctuary offers enchanting accommodation at the Akeri Rest Houses of the Forest Department. While visiting Malvan Marine Sanctuary, you can also embark on excursions to nearby tourist destinations like the Sindhudurg Fort, and the golden sandy beaches of Tondavali, Tarkarli and Vengurala, which lie at a distance of 10-km from the sanctuary area. The Malvan Marine Wildlife Sanctuary has its own Rest House. If looking for private hotel options near Malvan Marine Sanctuary they are available.
3. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary
A phenomenally preserved verdant oasis in Maharashtra, Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is a significant region from the point of view of biodiversity conservation. This wildlife empyrean is encapsulated in the arms of nature and festooned with scenic vistas, lush vegetation and serves up as a magnificent destination to explore the exquisiteness of nature. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is in fact an unparalleled gem of nature and bestows every wildlife traveler to relish the serenity and wilderness spread all over in the sanctuary. It is home to many endangered species. The vertebrate fauna includes, besides a number of fishes, about 34 species of mammals, about 166 species of birds including migratory land and water birds, about 36 species of reptiles and about 4 species of amphibia. This sanctuary is notable for its wealth of birds and is indeed a bird watcher’s paradise. a small museum is located inside Nagzira Tourist Complex. This museum is used for conservation education of the travelers. Varieties of stuffed birds can be seen here in showcases. There are present audiovisual materials in the interpretation center at the complex. Moreover, there are 5 watchtowers and 5 watch cabins within the sanctuary. The Mahadev Temple at Pongezara borders the sanctuary. This temple attracts hordes of people at the time of Mahashivratri. There are several comfortable and clean forest guest houses available within the reserve offering cozy accommodation. One can stay within the core zone, at a place called Chaparwa, in a forest rest house.
4. Karnala Bird Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is centered on the historic Karnala Fort and lies just off the Mumbai-Pune national highway. The bird sanctuary is a popular destination for bird-watchers and hikers in the Mumbai area. The sanctuary is home to over 222 species birds of which 161 are resident species, 46 are winter migrant species, three are breeding migrants, seven species are passage migrants and five species are vagrant. Following eight species endemic to Western Ghats has been found in Karnala: Grey-fronted Green-pigeon (Treron affinis), Nilgiri Woodpigeon (Columba elphinstone), Malabar (Blue-winged) Parakeet (Psittacula columboides), Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus), White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis), Malabar Lark (Galerida malabarica), Small Sunbird (Leptocoma minima) and Vigors Sunbird (Aethopyga vigorsii). Five rare birds, the ashy minivet, three-toed kingfisher, Malabar trogon, Slaty-legged Crake (Rallina eurizonoides), and Rufous-bellied Eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii) have been sighted here. The sanctuary is also home to 114 species of butterflies. The Karnala fort is located on the top of the hill in the sanctuary.
5. Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary
Radhanagari (Dajipur) Wildlife Sanctuary has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Radhanagari Forest comes as a part of Western Ghats. Western Ghats is immensely important with unique biophysical and ecological processes in India. Radhanagari was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985. It’s surrounded by Radhanagari & Kalammawadi Dams.
Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across 351.16 SqKm. and out of which 18 Sq.Kms area is open for tourists as mentioned by our guide. Weather in Radhanagari is pleasant throughout the year except monsoon. Due to its surroundings and unique topography, it rains heavily i.e. 4000 – 5000mm average yearly. Therefore you can see various types of flora and fauna here. During summer time, Radhanagari can be considered as the best destination for family & friends. Study tours are also arranged here for various possibilities. Radhanagari lies at the southern end of the Sahyadri hills in the Western Ghats and is renowned for its population of Indian Gaur and is rich in bird life. The sanctuary is home to threatened Nilgiri wood-pigeon and some prominent species such as Ceylon frogmouth, yellow-browed bulbul, dusky eagle-owl et. Western Ghats Bird Watching Destinations in Maharashtra,
6. Bhimashankar forest reserve
A pristine natural environment with hills, waterfalls and forests; a wild life sanctuary and an ancient temple! Bhimashankar offers the ideal setting to find spirituality. It is also the perfect place for adventure lovers with a plethora of treks. Moreover this is where you can find the shekru the giant flying squirrel which is also the state animal of Maharashtra. Nestled in dense forests, the Shiva temple in Bhimashankar is the sixth jyotirlinga and one of the most popular places for the worship of Lord Shiva. It is believed that the original temple of Bhimashankar was built in the 12th century CE. A well was constructed in the complex by Raghunathrao Peshwa. The famous minister of the Peshwas, Nana Phadnavis carried out a lot of renovations, including the construction of the shikhara.The present temple sanctum (garbhagriha) and the shikhara are built in the Nagara or Indo-Aryan style and have a strong influence of Rajasthan and Gujarat on the figurines and motifs of the temple. Bhimashankar is also the perfect place to combine adventure and trekking. Monsoon is a good season to enjoy the region’s stunning natural beauty. list of nearby tourist places and attractions such as Hanuman Lake, Chaskaman Dam, Ahupe Waterfalls and Gupt Bhimashankar Temple. Lenyadri caves host one of the Ashtavinayak temples dedicated to the god Ganesha, located about 5km north of Junnar. Bhimashankar is located around 38 KM away from Junnar.
8. Sahyadri tiger reserve
The Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is located in the Sahyadri Ranges of Western Ghats in Maharashtra. These ranges form a common boundary between Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa, and consist of rich evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. It is the first Tiger Reserve of Western Maharashtra and the fourth Tiger Reserve of the State. The reserve spreads over Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary forming the northern portion and Chandoli National Park. Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is the only place where climax and near-climax vegetation is plentiful and prospects of adverse anthropogenic influence in the future are minimal. The area is bestowed with several biogeographical peculiarities. climax evergreen formations of higher elevations have been wiped out or highly degraded everywhere in Western Maharashtra except in tiger reserve areas, where this type still occupies substance areas. Another unique feature is the presence of the tree giants- Harpulia arborea, Scolopia crenata and Turpinia malabarica.These trees have so far not been recorded from anywhere presumably boasts a sizable population of subspecies. The area is relatively undisturbed as compared to other regions in western Maharashtra giving refuge to species facing local extinction like Canarium strictum, Dimocarpus longan. Elaeocarpus tectorius etc. amongst plants, like Sloth bear, Tiger, Wild dog etc., amongst notable mammals, Malabar pit viper amongst snakes. As far as total number of species, moist zone species, species endemic to Western Ghats Hill complex and regionally threatened species are concerned, Sahyadri Tiger Reserve ranks only next to Amboli-Sawantwadi and Radhanagari.
9. Melghat tiger reserve
Melghat was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974, and was one of the first nine reserves that were notified under Project Tiger India’s foremost wildlife conservation project put in place in 1972 to protect the Bengal Tiger. Melghat means ‘a confluence of the Ghats’ and the area’s rugged topography is characterised by steep cliffs and rocky ravines, providing the reserve natural protection from encroachers. Apart from Tigers the other prominent animals are Sloth Bear, Indian Gaur, Sambar deer, Leopard, Nilgais, etc. The endangered and 'back from extinction' Forest Owlet is also found in various areas of Melghat. Melghat Tiger Reserve offers various activities like day safari, Night Safari, Full day Safari, Night Machaan Stay, Kayaking, Elephant ride, Trekking, Adventure activities like zorb ball, Burma bridge, River crossing, Parallel bridge and many more. These various activities are available at tourist destinations like Aamzari, Semadoh, Kolkas, Harisal, Shahanur. The tribal dance show can be arranged on request. Home stay facilities are also provided to experience the culture & day to day life style of tribal.
10.Lonar wildlife sanctuary
Lonar sanctuary is a small sanctuary spread over only 3.8 sq.km surrounds the famous Lonar crater. The Crater is notified of the National Geo-heritage Monument. It is located at Lonar town in Buldhana district, Maharashtra. Within the only known Extraterrestrial impact Crater found within the great deccan traps basalt formation. It is recognized as an impact crater by the hypervelocity impact of either a comet or an asteroid. While Lonar lake is famous for being the largest basaltic impact crater. Lonar Lake, which was created by a meteor hitting the Earth during the Pleistocene epoch, is a saltwater lake at Lonar in Buldana district. Lonar Lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 kilometres (3,900 ft) and is about 137 metres (449 ft) below the crater rim. The meteor crater rim is about 1.8 kilometres (5,900 ft) in diameter. The circular depression bears a saline water lake in its central portion. Being the perennial Saline Lake having blue-green algae the Sanctuary attracts a large number of winter migratory birds between November and March. Hyaena, Sloth bear, Neelgai, Wolf, Chital, Barking Deer. The floral diversity is conspicuous owing to the variation of crop composition from place to place.
Gomukh Temple is located along the rim of the crater and there are some more temples of archaeological importance located near the sanctuary.
Which do you plan to visit first?