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Maharashtra Sahyadri Tiger Reserve
The Sahyadri Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra combines the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and the Chandoli National Park in the southern part of the state. The name of the Reserve comes from the Sahyadri mountain range, which is a part of the Western Ghats in the north. The range of elevation of the area is 500 m to 1500 m above sea level.
The region of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve includes the area around the Koyna Dam, Warna River and many other small rivers and streams originating from the Western Ghats and flowing to the east. The area also is surrounded by towns and cities with commercial and industrial importance and has several access points in all directions.
The history of the area dates back to the Maratha Empire and many forts built or captured by the first Maratha Emperor Shivaji Bhonsle can be found here. The legendary temple from where Shivaji received the Bhavani Sword from divine providence is also said to be among the many ruins in this region.
The first protected area is that of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, notified in 1985 and the newer protected part is that of the Chandoli National Park notified as Sanctuary in 1985 and National Park in 2004.
The Shayadri Tiger Reserve was created by merging the areas of these two forests to a total of 741 sq km in 2007.
Weather And Best Time To Visit
The summers here are hot and dry. There is heavy rainfall in monsoon and the Reserves remain closed during this period. The best time to visit is in winter that fall between November and February.
Places To Visit
There are many places of interest in and around the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, as it falls at the confluence of three districts of Maharashtra.
The historic ruins of the Maratha Forts in and around the Shayadri forests are worth the visit.
Many active religious sites in Kolhapur, Pandharpur and Sangli attract quite a number of tourists and pilgrims from all over India.
How To Reach
The nearest airport is at Kolhapur but the flights sparse. Pune (210 km) and Mumbai (international, 380 km) are better alternatives.
Railway stations and terminals in Karad (47 km), Sangli (75 km), Kolhapur (80 km) and Miraj (85 km) are very convenient to approach the Shayadri Reserve from any direction.
National Highway No. 4 passes through Karad and Kolhapur. There are buses from Sangli, Miraj, Karad and Kolhapur, which are cheap and reliable.
Flora And Fauna
The forest cover here is that of moist evergreen, semi-evergreen, moist and dry deciduous vegetation. There are many medicinal and fruit bearing trees along with the commercial hard wood trees in the Sahyadri Reserve.
The main carnivores are Tiger, Leopard and some Lesser Cats along with the Wolf, Jackal and Wild Dog. The large herbivores are several deer species like Barking Deer, Sambar, and other large and small animals like Indian Bison, Sloth Bear, Mouse Deer, Giant Indian Squirrel and Macaque.
The Wildlife of Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is typical of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot with several endemic species in different animal classes. Apart from the 20 odd mammalian species, there are 20 species of amphibians and reptiles and over 120 avian species.
Where To Stay
The Irrigation Department has comfortable lodgings inside the Sahyadri Reserve, which have to be booked through the Executive Engineer’s Office at Mandur in Kolhapur. Many find it convenient to stay at several excellent lodgings in the nearby cities and towns.