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A trip along the massive and beautiful Sahyadri Ghats will depict the tales of the rich vegetation and animal life of Goa. Like the Bondla life sanctuary of Goa houses a botanical garden, a rose garden, a small deer-park and a zoo, which was firstly constituted to shelter orphaned animals. It is the widest belt of forests along the western ghats and the high rainfall accounts for this as the elevation of the mountain range here is lower. Goa is gifted with over 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 forms of birds, over 48 kinds of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles. About 10% of Goa is set apart as wildlife reserve and this area includes four large wildlife sanctuaries.
They are covered with dense forests and varied life including fauna and reptiles. The famous sanctuaries of Goa include mangrove species. Some of the sanctuaries are a home to a host of birds, a sizeable population of flying foxes, jackals, crocodiles, turtles, Wild Beer, Deer, Leopard, various types of serpent and birds. But less likely to yield Tigers and Leopards which were hunted out long ago, while the Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas that allegedly linger in the woods appearing seldom. Visitors however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and the Odd Gaur. Mahabir is particularly known for its Leopards, Elephants, Deers & Gaur Or Indian Bison. It is more commodious to view wild animals from the Devil's Canion View Point. Bird lovers may also find their best time over here. The expansive forestland of Goa is very popular among tourists from all over the world.

 

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary


Goa attracts all including wildlife enthusiasts. There are numerous wildlife sanctuaries in Goa where you may find umpteen number of endangered animal species besides virgin treasure of natural beauty. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is smallest of the Goan wildlife sanctuaries. Located up in green-covered foothills of the Western Ghats, Bondla is the home to Sambhar and Wild Boar. Spread in a wide area of 8-sq-km, it is very easily accessible. This wildlife sanctuary is situated 55-km from Panajim and 38-km from Margoa. It houses a Botanical Garden, fenced Deer Park and a Zoo. The zoo is rated the best in the area having enough spacious enclosures.

Bondla wildlife sanctuary is a suitable destination for a trip with whole family. As you walk along, you may spot a giant red Malabar squirrel, a wild Boar, a Sambar or several other wildlife. An archaeological exhibit in the form of a statue of the deity Gajalaxmi. You can also check out the collections at the Nature Education centre.

You can also watch the crocodiles as they clamber themselves out of the water and rest over the rocks in the sun. Bondla is also good for bird-watching too. It really enthralls to hear the chirping of large variety of birds including Indian scimitar babbler, Brown fish owl, Oriental dwarf Kingfisher and Ruby throated yellow bulbul.

Established originally to house orphaned animals, the zoo is now a breeding colony for large species of deer. Covering 8-sq-km of deciduous forest, Bondla is a miniature zoo of sort housing caged animals and birds. A popular picnic destination for locals, Bondla zoo offers elephant rides as a major attraction.

The Fauna

Wild Boar, Monkeys, Deer, Langurs, Gaur, Jackals, Leopards and Pythons are residing fearlessly in the hills of southeast. This is also another bird-watching haven, quite similar to its counterparts at Chorao and Cotigao. Two rivers flow very near the forest - Rangado river on the east and Madhel on its north. Bison, Deer, Wild Beer, Leopard, birds and various types of serpent are also found here at Bondla forests. You can also visit the only mosque Safa Shahouri Masjid on the way. Built by Ali Adilshah in 1560, this monument can be seen at Ponda.

Location

Located in Ponda Taluka in Central Goa, 20 km from Mollem, 52 km from Panaji

Best Season

October to March
9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Thursday closed (Garden and Zoo)

Entry Fee

Adult Rs 5, Child Rs 2 (extra charges for camera and vehicles)
Two wheelers Rs 10, Cars Rs 50, Mini buses/Vans Rs 100
Elephant Rides Rs 80 per ride (4 persons)

How to Reach

Dabolim Airport is just 50 km from this wildlife sanctuary. You can ride a bus or hire a taxi to reach the sanctuary. Its nearest railhead is Margao (36 km) which is well-linked with the other major destinations of the country. You can hire a taxi to reach Bondla then onwards. You also can access Panaji (52 km) to reach Bondla.

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary


If a bird lover plans a trip to Goa, his trip is not complete without visiting Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Regarded as 'the paradise of bird watchers', it is named after India's most renowned ornithologist. Hoe to a large variety of birds, this is the only one bird sanctuary of Goa.

You will find umpteen number of domestic and migratory birds in this sanctuary, spread in 1.8 sq km. You may also spot other rarefied wildlife here including Indian rock Python, smooth Indian otter and flying fox.

Mangrove swamps are on the western tip of the Chorao island besides river Mandovi. The mangroves are abundant with chirping birds, making the overall ambiance really memorable. Almost 14 species of mangroves are found here, which makes it an ideal breeding ground for planktons, shrimps, estuarine fish and tiny crabs. Mangroves also provide feeding ground for bird species.

The Avifauna

A large variety of migratory birds can be seen in this bird sanctuary during November to February. Pintail ducks, Cormorants, Mallards, Purple Moorhen and Storks are some of the famous migratory birds which can be easily spotted.

A large variety of resident birds can be spotted here. These include Herons, Drongos, Eagles, Kites, Kingfisher, Baya (weaver birds), Purple Sun bird, Egrets, Tailor Birds, Grey-headed Myna, Red-wattled Lapwing, Redshank, Common Sandpipers, Green Bee-eater and Pheasant-tailed Jacana. Request for customised tour

Some Activities

A network of water channels criss-cross Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. You may cruise along the placid waters of the canals to the gentle sound of the water gently lapping against the boat and sweet chirping of the birds. You may also have a spectacular view of the white-bellied sea eagle coming down swiftly to catch a fish from the waters when you are on boat cruise. Otherwise, you also can climb the watch-tower which was built in this Bird Sanctuary to provide a better view of the birds.

Location

Located on Chorao island in Tiswadi Taluka, 5 km from Panaji

Best Season

November to February but anytime in the year with the permission of warden, Forest Deptt.

Entry Fee

Rs 50

Where to Stay

You are advised to stay at Panaji if you are coming to visit Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. This town has plenty of accommodation available in Panaji, which can be opted as per your requirements and budget. Hotel Casa Pinho, Hotel Ashoka Plaza, Hotel Delmon, Hotel Check Inn, Hotel La Grande and Hotel Manvins are some of the best hotels in Goa.

How to Reach

Nearest major city is Panaji, capital city of Goa. You can hire a taxi or ride a bus to reach Ribander ferry jetty. This jetty is situated at a distance of 3 km from Panaji along Linhares Causeway. You can take a ferry across Mandovi river to the island of Chorao.

Catigao Wildlife Sanctuary


Established in 1969 to save the forest lining on the border of Goa and Karnataka, this wildlife sanctuary is spread in 85.65 sq km of mixed deciduous woodland. This wildlife sanctuary inspires all the tree lovers. One river named Talpona flows through the sanctuary, while the other one River Galjibaga runs through the south-eastern boundary of Cotigao.

One road passes through the wildlife sanctuary. It is fairly difficult in some areas so it would test your navigational skills. However, cool lush greenery will rejuvenate your senses while your walk through the wildlife sanctuary. Come and enjoy sweet chirping of the birds and other sounds of forests while your trip in the sanctuary.

The Flora

Moist-deciduous type trees are main vegetation of Cotigao Sanctuary. Some of the trees attain the heights up to 30 metres. This vegitation is interspersed with semi-green and evergreen forests.

The Fauna

Leopard Unfortunately Catigao Wildlife Sanctuary offers limited wildlife sights. The reason is that all the tigers and leopards of the forests were hunted out long ago. However you may spot Wild boars, two species of Monkey and Gaurs. You may also find other animals including Bison, Langur, Pangolin, Deer, Black Panther, Gazelles, Porcupines, Sloth Bears, Hyenas and Panthers besides these animals.

The Activities

Trek along the mud trails and take a trial at Bhutpal. You can climb 18 m high ladder into a treetop shelter. You will have a picturesque view of waterhole located very near and its scenic surroundings. Walk further to enchanting location of Bela Lake. This lake inside the sanctuary is just 2.5 km from Hathipal Eco-tourism complex. Visit Nature Interpretation Centre which has several Botanical and faunal exhibits as an interesting diversion.

Several charming Bandharas and waterholes at Catigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Climb into 3-m high watch tower at Tulsimol. You can see animals who come to drink water especially during early morning and late evening hours.

Location

In east Canacona Taluka, 86 km from Goa's capital

Best Season

October to March

Entry Fee

Rs for Adult, Rs 2 for Child (additional for camera and vehicles)

Where to Stay

Hathipal Eco-tourism Complex of Forest Department has a 6-bedded cottage, a 3-bedded cottage and 5 thatched tents. The complex is open during October to April. A Forest Rest House is also available for you at Poinguinim, but it is mostly used by forest officers. In case you want to go for an overnight stay, either in watchtower or forest department's rest house, you should take the prior permission from Deputy Conservator Of Forests.

How to Reach

Dabolim airport is 75 km away from Cotigao. This airport has flights from almost all the major cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. You can hire taxi to reach the sanctuary then onwards. he nearest railheads from Cotigao are Margao (53 km) and Panaji (86 km). Buses ply to Karwar halt at Canacona from then onwards. Buses plying south on NH 17 to Karwar halt via Chaudi will drop you well within the periphery of 2 km.

Sacred Groves


Deep-rooted beliefs and strong taboos forbid the cutting of trees and plants or harming of trees and plants or harming of trees and plants or harming of any form of life within this protected area. The fear of divine wrath has kept these patches of virgin forest in a near-natural state.

Sacred groves of Goa harbour several rare species of flora and fauna, including numerous medicinal plants. Thus they also have served as a traditional means of conservation of the rich bio-diversity of the forests. Most groves are located near water bodies, springs or streams for example. These trees prevent soil erosion and help in conserving water. It augments water reserves of communities residing nearby. Common belief says that the waters of these springs have medicinal properties.

Location

Sacred GrovesSacred groves were located near many villages around Goa. These groves got dwindled away due to weakening of traditional beliefs, besides unhindered development and economic growth. Numerous groves still exist though especially in the interior areas, varying in size from small clusters of trees to large tracts of dense forests.

Some of the sacred groves are in Valpoi and Sattari areas of North Goa include Kopardem sacred grove, Nirankarichi Rai, Ajobachi Rai and Ghotgachi Rai. Ajobachi Rai, the largest of them all is situated in the village of Keri , in Sattari Taluka. These also exist in the talukas less touched by tourism in Bicholim, Pernem, Canacona, Sanguem and Quepem. The distinct feature in the sacred grove at Kopardem is the luminescence of fungus seen on the forest floor on new moon lights.

Located at Bamber in Satari taluka is the abode of rare medicinal plants, refuge for a unique forest community classified as Myristica Swamp Forests having great ecological significance. The grove is believed to exist for the last 250 years and the reigning deity is the god "Nirankar". Presence of numerous aerial roots in the shape of inverted "U" arching over the mud is one of the unique features of the trees in the mud.

If you are keen on visiting these sacred groves, contact a local expert to work with you as an expert. These are located in the interiors and off the beaten track.

Some Tips

these sacred groves are considered to be sanctified area and one should abide by traditions like removing footwear and not disturbing any life forms when visiting the groves.

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary


If you want to have a close look at rich and rarefied wildlife, captivating landscape and dense evergreen forests, then Goa's Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place for you. Located 65 km away from Panaji, Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is located at Mollem village in Sanguem Taluka. It is located on the slopes of Western Ghat ranges which is very close to eastern Goa-Karnataka border. Formerly known as Mollem Game Sanctuary, it was renamed as Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary later. Covering an area of 240 sq. km, dense forests in it range from evergreen to moist deciduous. It makes it an ideal habitat for a variety of flora and avian species.

The Flora

Three major types - West Coast Semi- Evergreen Forests, West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests and Moist Deciduous Forests. Here, you will see the species of Terminalia, Xylia, Dalbergia, Lagerstromia etc. Grass is very limited here while the evergreen forests are mainly centered on higher altitudes and along the river banks.

The Fauna

Leopard Cat, Panther, Mouse Deer, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, Gaur, Porcupine, Wild Boar, Wild Dog, Sambar, Common Langur, Flying Squirrel, Bonnet Macaque, Civet, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Slender Loris, Pangolin etc. Sometimes tigers have also been spotted here. The sanctuary is famous for numerous snakes including King Cobras, Python, Krait, Viper and non-poisonous snakes also.

The Avifauna

This wildlife sanctuary is also home to around 200 avian species. Some of the popular bird species here are Paradise flycatcher, Indian great black woodpecker, Emerald dove, Malabar pied hornbill, Great Indian hornbill, Grey jungle fowl, Fairy bluebird, Drongo, Wag tails, Shrikes, Barbets, Kingfishers etc.

The Activities

You can drive in or just walk along the mud trails. When you trek through the dense forest, you will find herds of bison besides other animals. Observe each and every moment of wildlife. Don't walk through the large webs which may be spun amidst tree branches. Have a close us at the huge spiders and colourful butterflies including Chocolate Pansy, Crimson Rose and Blue Mormon.

Location

65 km from Panaji, in Sanguem Taluka

Best Season

October to March - 8.00am to 5.00 pm

Entry Fee

Rs 20 for Adult, Rs 5 for Child (extra charges for camera and vehicle)

Where to Stay

One good option is Dudhsagar Resort at Mollem. It is a few hundred metres away from the sanctuary entrance. You can also stay in rooms, rest houses and dormitories of state government. You can also take prior permission from the Range Forest Officer for pitching your own tents in a campsite within the sanctuary. Shanti Nature Resort and Backwoods are two other private resorts, very close to Tambdi Surla Temple.

How to Reach

Nearest airport at Dabolim is 80 km away from this wildlife sanctuary. Nearest railhead, 6 km from sanctuary is at Colem railway station. Buses and taxis are available at regular intervals for Mollem from Panaji and Margao.

Mollem National Park


Mollem National Park in Goa is home to a rich and rarefied wildlife species. The park is spread in an area of 107 sq km abundant with dense forests. Mollem National Park Goa was notified as a National Park since 1978. It covers the core zone of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. Located 65 km away from Panaji, Mollem Nation Park Goa is named after the village Mollem in Sanguem Taluka where it is located.Mollem National Park is sheltering a number of animals, birds and plants which are otherwise on the verge of extinct. Come to the park for its virgin treasure of nature.

Flora in Mollem National Park

West Coast Semi- Evergreen Forests, West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests and Moist Deciduous Forests are the major types of vegetation in and around Mollem National Park Goa. Terminalia, Xylia, Dalbergia, and Lagerstromia are some of the species in Mollem National Park. Evergreen forests are mainly centered on higher altitudes and along the river banks. Grass is very limited.

PantherThe Fauna in Mollem National Park

Gaur, leopards, chital, mouse deer, barking deer, wild boar, Indian porcupine, wild dogs, leopard cat, sambar deer, bonnet macaque, common langur, jungle cat, civet, flying squirrels, Malabar giant squirrel, pangolin, and the slender loris. Poisonous snakes such as king cobras, pythons, kraits, and vipers etc. are wildlife treasures of Mollem National Park.

The Avifauna

Plan Mollem National Park tour in Goa to spot diverse bird species like Paradise flycatcher, Indian great black woodpecker, Emerald dove, Malabar pied hornbill, Great Indian hornbill, Grey jungle fowl, Fairy bluebird, Drongo, Wag tails, Shrikes, Barbets, Kingfishers etc. This wildlife sanctuary is also home to around 200 avian species.

Recreational Activities

Drive in or just walk along the mud trails during your Mollem National Park tour in Goa. When you trek through the dense forest, you will find herds of bison besides other animals. Observe each and every moment of wildlife in Mollem National Park. Don't walk through the large webs which may be spun amidst tree branches. Have a close us at the huge spiders and colourful butterflies including Chocolate Pansy, Crimson Rose and Blue Mormon.

Location

Mollem National Park is situated in the heart of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary 65 km from Panaji, in Sanguem Taluka

Best Season to Visit

October to March
8.00am to 5.00 pm

Entry Fee for Mollem National Park

Adult Rs 20
Child Rs 5
Extra charges for camera and vehicle

Where to Stay

Staying is not an issue during your Mollem National Park tour in Goa. Visitors can stay at Dudhsagar Resort at Mollem which is just a few hundred metres away from this national park. Rooms, rest houses and dormitories maintained by state government can also be preferred. Permission can be taken from the Range Forest Officer if you want to pitch your own tents in a campsite. Two other private resorts are very close to Tambdi Surla Temple. These are Shanti Nature Resort and Backwoods.

How to Reach

Nearest airport at Dabolim is 80 km away from Mollem National Park. Colem railway station is the nearest railhead, placed 6 km from Mollem National Park. You can pick buses or hire taxis, available at regular intervals from Panaji and Margao.
 
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