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The Dumkhal sanctuary is enriched with undulating vast terrain, beautiful deep valleys, ever increasing greenery, high canopies, calm silent rocks, breath taking streams, huge waterfalls, picturesque landscapes and lots more to offer to a large number of tourists coming to these hill ranges of Vindhyan-Satpura.
The area under thick forest here is considered as one of the best in the state covering an area having an important watershed which feeds 2 significant reservoirs having Rajpipla hills at the back. The thick vegetation cover of ground offers immense greenery as well as home and habitat to a large variety of forms of life besides conserving the water and soil.
It was declared as a sanctuary in the year 1982 and engrosses an area of 150.87 sq. km. The "Dumkhal Sanctuary" is an abode to sloth bears. Subsequently, in the year 1987 and 1989, the sanctuary area was expanded to 607.71sq. Km. and finally it was referred to as "Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary".
This sanctuary got its name, Shoolpaneshwar, from an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which was present in this region once on the embankments of Narmada river. "Shoolpaneshwar" referring to Lord Shiva was put forward as having "Shool" or "Trishul" in his hand which means `Pani’.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The climate of the region of Shoolpaneshwar is basically hot, sub-tropical and humid. The summers are hot as well as dry. There are heavy rains during the monsoons which makes it difficult for visiting this place. The best time for visiting the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary is from November to the month of March when the climate is quite pleasant.
How to Reach
The closest airport is Vadodara airport which is 90 km away. This terminal is quite busy having flights to major cities of the country and there is Ahmadabad international airport which is 260 kms away.
Bharuch is 80 km away and is a popular railway station as this district is close to Narmada district. Rajpipla can be easily reached from here.
To reach Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife sanctuary, there are two ways through Vadodara or Ahmadabad that may be opted easily. One can reach Ankleshwar from there as it is 60 km distant and Rajpipla can be reached from there easily.
As far as the flora is concerned here, the ecosystem offers semi-evergreen for deciduous forest of moist type. There are over 575 species of plants having flowers such as amla, timru, khair, sadad, aritha, tanachh, bamboo, karanj, mahuda, herde, bor, amaltas etc. Vast bamboo patches are sometimes called as bamboo-brakes.
There are 32 species of mammals which find their abode here in this sanctuary; there are large number of reptiles apart from 198 birds’ species and innumerable insects.
There is a large variety of snakes along with other reptiles in the forests of this Sanctuary however there are no proper records and documents being maintained as such. Among the frequently visible species are cobra, pythons, Krait and different Lizards species.
Leopard, Sloth bear, rhesus macaque, civet cat, common mongoose, porcupine, barking deer, four-horned antelope, chital, flying squirrel, pangolin, python, lizards, snakes, tortoise etc. people have also seen tigers, wild dogs, leopard cat however, no body reported to see tigers for over twenty years.
Shikra, Crested serpent eagle, owls, sparrow hawk, gray hornbill, grey and red jungle fowls etc are some of the common birds seen here.
Several water bodies and river enrich this region and helps to sustain bird life in the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary. There are 192 species of birds recorded here.
Sloth Bear is the most common and popular animal among the large number of wild animals found here. There were tigers found in large numbers in the past however it has been almost two decades since when there is no tiger being recorded to be seen.
Where to Stay
For the tourists who visit the shoolpaneshwar sanctuary Government has provided rest houses at different locations found in the vicinity of the sanctuary. One can stay there at affordable charges with basic facilities and amenities taken care of. The nearest rest houses known are at Rajpipla, Kewadia, Dediapada and Sagai.