There’s no end to exploring this enormous forest reserve in Pune. But first, let’s tackle the fundamental question. What does Bhimashankar Reserve owe its popularity to? What ecological significance does it hold? What is its contribution to biodiversity conservation? Bhimashankar Sanctuary is home to a subspecies of the Indian Giant Squirrel (or Malabar Giant Squirrel), the state animal of Maharashtra (Scientific name: Ratufa Indica Elphinstone). It is one of the three threatened Indo-Malayan squirrel species and the sanctuary authorities take major steps time and again to ensure its conservation and survival. The sanctuary houses the famed Bhimashankar temple to which it owes its name. This Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (self emerged Shiva temples) in India, explaining why it is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus from all over the country. Bhimashankar Sanctuary has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. The reserve is home to globally threatened species, many restricted-range species, two critical species, various vulnerable species, and near-threatened species of aviaries. The Sanctuary constantly works towards protecting the valuable habitats of these bird species.

 

Best time to visit Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

Though it’s a year-round destination, the best time to visit Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve is the Winters from October to February when one can enjoy this place to the fullest. Here’s what each season offers to travellers at Bhimashankar

 

Winters in Bhimashankar forest: The season begins in October and lasts till February. The mercury dips and the temperature ranges between 13 to 28 degrees Celsius during this time, offering the most pleasant weather conditions to explore the sanctuary and spot most of the animals and birds out in the open.

 

enjoy the rain in bhimashankar

 

Monsoons in Bhimashankar forest: It starts from June and lasts till September. The season is marked by heavy rainfall on most days which turns the place marshy and difficult to tread or drive on. Travelers prefer not to visit during this time because of the same. However, trekkers like to visit during this season as monsoons turn the place into a bowl of challenges for them to enjoy!

 

Summers in Bhimashankar forest: From March till May is the summer season in Pune which is generally marked by a hot and dry climate. The temperature during this time ranges between 23 to 37 degrees Celsius which makes this season unfavourable for visiting the reserve.

 

How to reach Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

It is relatively easy to get to Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve since it is well connected to different cities like Pune and Mumbai by a well-maintained National Highway and other road systems. Here’s how one can reach Bhimashankar Sanctuary by different means of transport:

By Air: The nearest airport to Bhimashankar Reserve is Pune Airport which is located a mere 102 km away. Apart from this, the Mumbai Airport is located 220 km away. Both the airports are well connected to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, and Kochi. There are many airlines serving passengers on this route from Pune as well as Mumbai airports like Air India Express, Kingfisher, Indigo, Jet Airways, Air India, and more. The rest of the way can be covered by road.

By Rail: The nearest railway station to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is the Pune Railway Station located at a distance of 106 km from the reserve. Apart from this, the reserve area is located 226 km from the Mumbai Central Railway Station. These two railway stations are, in turn, connected to almost all the major cities in India like New Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Mysore, and Puri. The rest of the way to the sanctuary can be covered via a scenic road trip.

By Road: Taking one through the varied topography of the country, a road journey to Bhimashankar Sanctuary is a delightful one. One can take a scenic road trip to Bhimashankar from Pune, Mumbai, and other nearby cities, as well as small cities like Salgaon, Peth, Rajur, Utchil, Junnar, and other areas. If you don’t wish to drive down to Bhimashankar, you can opt for one of the frequent bus services available to tourists from different cities, both big and small, that ply to and fro the sanctuary.

 

Distance from Pune to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary: 138 km
Travel Time: 3 hours 6 minutes

Distance from Mumbai to Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve: 94 km
Travel Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Nashik to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary: 155 km
Travel Time: 3 hours 8 minutes

Ideal duration of a trip to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

A duration of 1 night and 2 days is ideal for a trip to Bhimashankar Forest Reserve. Though the duration of 2 to 3 hours is sufficient to explore the sanctuary and indulge in all the major activities like safari, temple visit, lake visit, and more, thrill-seekers who come here for trekking and hiking spend a much longer time to experience all that this place has to offer and satiate their adventure-hungry souls.

 

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Entry Fee

There is no entry fee for Bhimashankar Reserve other than the one you need to pay for the vehicle that you’re taking inside the sanctuary for your safari tour. Following are the admission prices of different kinds of vehicles one can take inside the forest reserve:

Two-wheelers: INR 10/- per person
Four-wheelers: INR 50/- per person
Heavy vehicles: INR 100/- per person

Tips for Bhimashankar Wildlife Reserve

One needs to take several precautions before visiting and while going around in the Bhimashankar forest so that they can enjoy the park to the fullest while also ensuring their safety. Some of the major ones are listed below.

  • Do proper research on the weather conditions before embarking on a trip to Bhimashankar. Avoid in case of rain (if you’re not into trekking)
  • Smoking and drinking are not allowed inside the Bhimashankar reserve area
  • One must carry essential items like mosquito repellants, a basic first aid kit, water, and dry snacks while going on a safari in Bhimashankar Reserve
  • Littering or polluting the water sources is strictly prohibited inside the park
  • There are no proper guides, safari jeeps, and safari trails inside the park. One has to engage in a self-guided safari. So make preparations accordingly and take the required steps for safety at all times
  • Don’t tread into the water sources like marshes and rivers

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