Explore Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra
This wonderful and exciting animal kingdom was once ruled by the Gond kings. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary takes its name from a harass temple located in the heart of the sanctuary and the temple of Mahadeo. ‘Zira’ (zara) in Marathi means a perennial source of water that comes out of a hill in Pongezara, Nagzira.
It is a lush green forest, surrounded by rolling slopes, which are part of the Gaikhuri hills in the south of the Satpura range. The hills are interspersed with narrow plateaus and the eastern part is mainly made up of plains. Dry deciduous trees, grass and thorny plants abound. Teak trees thrive on rolling slopes – good quality forest is found in pockets of deep moist soil in valleys and along nullahs.
In the central part of Nagzira, bamboo is found in abundance. On the outer fringes bamboo is absent or of poor quality, due to illegal cutting – erosion from grazing has also occurred in these areas. This wildlife reserve is a living repository of various species of economic, medicinal, aromatic and ornamental plants.
Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is a miraculously preserved green oasis covering 152 kmÂ² in the northeast corner of Maharashtra. This small reserve is of great importance from the point of view of biodiversity and conservation. It is an important corridor connecting the wooded areas of the south and the center, such as the Tadoba Andhari and Kanha tiger reserves.
Nagzira is a magical place–Home to tigers, leopards, dholes, jungle cats, sloth bears, spotted hyenas, jackals and herbivores such as gaurs, sambars, nilgais and chitals. An astonishing variety of butterflies and birds, reptiles and amphibians also flourish in this living open-air museum.
Read: Big cats and bamboo forests: Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve
Unfortunately, it has been observed that tourists litter the forest floor, wear bright colors and chat endlessly. It disturbs the peace and ruins the beauty of the forest. Silence in safari vehicles should be maintained at all times.
It takes about three hours to reach Nagzira by road from Nagpur while Gondia is about an hour away. The shrine has eight entrance gates – Nagzira, Kosamtondi, Murpar, Murdoli, Balapur, Pongezara, Mangezari and the Chorkhamara.
Safari schedules 6-11 a.m., 3 a.m.-6 p.m.
Things to see
The Gypsy Safari slowly winds around a bend in the jungle trail. Unaware of the blazing sun and warm breeze, our eyes were riveted on the dirt road, looking for pug marks on both sides of the road. Suddenly we saw them–the dholes! A family of 14, nothing less–frolic around the solar water pumps and the small artificial pond installed by the forest service. The older adults seemed suspicious, but the younger ones trotted forward curiously, then scampered through the water as we approached the peloton.
Stopping before them, we looked at each other before they turned and ran away. Surprisingly, further on, the dholes emerged again, advancing carefree along the jungle road. They were attentive to the call of a sambar in front of them. Holding our breath, we admired these fierce little warriors, excited to be so close to predators who can keep the tiger at bay.
On the same trip mentioned above, returning to camp, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a large herd of gaurs, quietly grazing leaves and grass on both sides of the trail. Three beautiful young bulls crossed the road just in front of our vehicle. One of them faced us with a penetrating gaze – a striking image, upon which we watched mesmerized. As dusk began to fall, a mother boar and her little piglets moved away from the road to join a very large boar sounder converging on a waterhole – at least 20 of them.
Read: In Bombay? Don’t forget to visit Sanjay Gandhi National Park
And the icing on the jungle cake! Incredibly handsome male leopard at a waterhole, barely five minutes from the jungle camp – crouched low, lapping the water, gazing suspiciously at us, then backing up through the foliage, to emerge and cross the road behind we.
Gaur and sambar graze peacefully on rolling expanses early in the morning and at dusk. Herds of chital can be seen grazing during the day on the flat meadows surrounding Lake Nagzira. Nilgai and the barking deer appreciate the grass and shrubs on the outskirts and the sloth bears appreciate the fruit trees and huge termite mounds, honey and mahua flowers.
The prey base is sufficient to keep top predators happy, and Nagzira is home to many tigers. The most famous tiger of recent years, Jai, was born and lived here for a few years before moving to new territory. Jai’s father Dendu, another fine specimen, has been seen a lot here.
Nagzira is also a bird watcher’s paradise. There are approximately 166 species of birds, including migratory land and water birds. Cormorants, egrets, herons, storks and black-winged kites are seen regularly. Other commonly seen birds are the peacock, gray jungle fowl, and red spur fowl.
Thirty-six species of reptiles and 45 species of amphibians thrive there. Rock pythons, dhaman, the Indian cobra and the common monitor lizard have made their home in these forests. Forty-nine species of butterflies belonging to nine families flutter here, including the common sailor and the linden butterfly.
For those looking for extras, there is also an interpretation center and a museum in the Nagzira tourist complex. The museum with a variety of stuffed birds, photos of wild animals and plaster casts of pugs, is still in its infancy. Informative films and slides on wildlife, forest and nature are shown here. Watchtowers and cabins for wildlife viewing are located on Nagzira Hill, Nagzira Lake, Nagzira Well, and Chital Road.
Where to stay and eat
Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra offers clean and comfortable guesthouses in the forest. Lata kunj and Madhu Kunj have two suites each. A canteen within the reserve takes care of your meals. For reservations contact the Division Manager, FDCM, Bhandara (Tel: 07184-252406, Cell: 09923139024). Reservations can be made at mahaecotourism.gov.in.
Among the private stations, Nagzira Tiger Resort near Chorkhamara Gate, has a good location with clean rooms and good food. They also organize safaris. Always in the same area is Nagzira natural camp has rooms and tents. They also have a restaurant. AstÃ©ya Nagzira is close to the Pitezari gate. It has a restaurant and an animal library. Game drives and hikes with an on-site naturalist can be arranged.
While in Nagpur don’t limit yourself to Nagzira–the zero mile city, Nagpur, is best suited for exploring Maharashtra’s wildlife sanctuaries in all directions.
When should we go
February to May is the best time, although the shrine is open from October to June. It is closed during the monsoon
Tourism / Wildlife Offices
Phone. : 022-22044040, 22845678
Chief Conservator of Forests
Phone. : 07182-251232
Forest development company from Maharashtra
Nagzira WLS Forestry Projects Division
Phone. : 07184-252406
Air The nearest airport is Nagpur (122 km / 3 hours).
Rail The closest train station is Gondia station (50 km / 1 hour). Buses also available to Sakoli
Road It’s a 3 hour drive from Nagpur on the NH6 to Sakoli which takes you to Nagzira WLS Bus The nearest bus stop is in Sakoli, 22 km from the park. ST buses from Nagpur, Gondia and Bhandara run to Sakoli. From there take a taxi to the park.