The Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is in the Goan town of Mollem.
North of Panaji on the road to Belgaum, there is a shrine that covers 240 km². A thick forested area covers the slopes of the Western Ghats, rich in flora and fauna and a haven for birdwatchers. The Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Goa town of Mollem. The sanctuary is located on the eastern border of Goa, with Karnataka 53 kilometers from Panaji and 54 kilometers from Margao. It is easily accessible by road and rail. Unless you are staying for at least a few days, you are unlikely to spot many of the animals sheltered in the sanctuary, including Gaur, Sambar, Leopards, Spotted Deer, Slender Loris, Jungle Cats, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Pythons and Cobras.
How to get to Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary is located on the eastern border of the state of Goa, near the village of Mollem. It is about 53 km from Margao and 54 km from Panaji. It also encompasses the 107 km² area of Mollem National Park.
When to go to Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
This shrine is a popular tourist attraction throughout the year. Although busiest during the tourist season from October to March, it is an ideal place to visit during the monsoons, when all the richness of nature is visible with the waterfalls at their zenith and the trees dressed in their clothes of fresh green monsoon.
The sanctuary is open every day of the week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Entrance and tickets to Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
The admission price is extremely reasonable. Adults are charged Rs.20 each, while children enter for Rs.10 each. Cameras are allowed in the sanctuary for Rs.30 for cameras and Rs.150 for video cameras
History of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary was formed to protect the vast biodiversity seen in the Western Ghat. Originally known as Mollem Game Sanctuary, it was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and later renamed Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.
The central area of the sanctuary, which covers approximately 107 km2 of land, was declared a national park in 1978 and is known as Mollem National Park.
The fauna and the flora
The area covered by the sanctuary is heavily forested and contains pristine vegetation known as the West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests, West Coast Semi-Evergreen Forests, and Humid Broadleaf Forests. Evergreen forests are generally found at higher elevations, on the upper slopes of the Ghats and along the banks of the perennial rivers that criss-cross the sanctuary.
Major tree species found here include Terminalia, Lagerstroemia (crape myrtle), Xylia and Dalbergia (timber trees). The forest canopy is so dense that sunlight does not even reach the forest floor in many places. In addition to trees, the sanctuary is also home to 722 species of flowering plants and 128 species of plants endemic to Western Ghats, India or the Indian Peninsula.
Apart from plants, avid visitors can also expect to see a number of animals in the forests. The sanctuary is the natural habitat of several species of herbivorous animals including deer, sambar, spotted deer, hog, mouse deer and barking deer. The carnivores that live there are the tiger, leopard, panther, jungle cat, and toddy cat.
Besides these, the savvy visitor can also expect to spot the small Indian civet, wild dog, hyena, sloth bear, jackal, bonnet macaque, slender loris, scaly anteater, giant squirrel, flying squirrel, flying fox and common otter.
Goa’s state bird, Ruby-throated Yellow Bulbul, is the most common of the 120 species of birds that have been spotted at this sanctuary. Birdwatchers can also keep their eyes peeled for Golden Oriole, Emerald Dove, Common Gray Hornbill, Paradise Flycatcher, Greater Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Trogan, Crested Serpent Eagle , Crested Buzzard, White-rumped Tailed, Ashy Wood Swallow, Asiatic Palm Swift, Jungle Chatterbox, Olive-backed Pipit, Pompadour Pigeon, Jungle Owlet, White-bellied Woodpecker, Crested Bulbul Black-crowned Wagtail, Scarlet Minivet, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch Warbler.
Butterflies that populate the park with their fleeting bursts of color include Blue Mormon, Common Jezebel, Common Mormon, Common Mime, Judy Plum, Common Wanderer, Crimson Rose, Lime Butterfly, Plain Tiger, the southern bird and the tailed jay. There are also endemic species that the enthusiastic lepidopterist will notice such as the Malabar tree nymph and the Tamil Yoeman.
A number of snakes are also found in the park. These include the bronze-backed tree snake, cat snake, hump-nosed viper, Indian python, Malabar viper, rat snake, Russell’s viper, Indian cobra and common krait . However, the most famous reptilian inhabitant of the park is undoubtedly the king cobra.
Besides housing this wide and varied array of plant and animal life, the Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary also stands out for a number of other popular attractions. These include:
- Dudhsagar Waterfalls – This is the highest waterfall in India and an extremely impressive natural wonder. especially during the monsoon season.
- Tambdi Falls – Although this waterfall is almost as high as Dudhsagar Falls, it does not attract as many visitors, due to the steep and rocky path that must be taken to approach the base of the waterfall. Hiking and rock climbing enthusiasts will enjoy doing this hike with one of the experienced guides the park has to offer.
- Devil’s Canyon – This eerie canyon carved out of solid rock by the river’s path is notable not only for its natural peace and beauty, but also for the myth and legend that surrounds it.
- Tambdi Surla Temple – This small but exquisite 12and The century temple, dedicated to Lord Mahadev, is located in the northern region of the sanctuary. The temple is notable for its stonework and Ashokan-style lotus carvings.
- Hiking and Trekking – Although one can pay to take private vehicles into the park, a better way to experience nature is to hike it. There are a number of hikes and treks conducted in this park. The guides are knowledgeable about the terrain they cover as well as the plant and animal life one is likely to encounter while hiking. The trails are not marked and it is therefore wiser to embark on these exploratory trips with a guide.
- Ecotourism Wing – For those wishing to learn more about native flora and fauna, the Ecotourism Wing and Nature Interpretation Center has an invaluable amount of data and open collectibles to the public.
Another facet of Goa’s diverse bouquet of attractions, this national park/wildlife sanctuary is undoubtedly a must-see for all nature and animal loving tourists. Visiting the park is also a great leisure activity during the monsoon season. Those who wish can find suitable accommodation near the park and spend part of their vacation in Goa amidst this beautiful and majestic natural setting.