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Gujarat Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
The Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Narmada district of Gujarat state in western India. The Sanctuary adjoins the popular Narmada Dam on the river of the same name and the Sardar Patel Reservoir is very close to the Sanctuary.
The total area of the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is roughly 600 sq km and is mostly comprises of the hilly and mountainous terrain, which is the part of the Western Ghats in Gujarat. Small water bodies, streams and waterfalls along with the dense deciduous and tropical forests create a moist atmosphere in the forest of Shoolpaenshwar that is a habitat for many large and small animals.
First, the Government had created Dumkhal Sanctuary in 1982 that had an area of 150 sq km and the reservation species was that of the Sloth Bear. Later during the Narmada Dam Project from 1987 to 1989, the area was enlarged until it is today – 607 sq km and renamed Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary to include additional species of birds and animals under protection.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The climate of the Shoolpaneshwar Region is sub-tropical, hot and humid. The summer is hot and dry, and heavy rains in the monsoon make it difficult to visit the Sanctuary. The best time to visit the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary is between November to March, when the temperatures are pleasant.
How to Reach
Vadodra (90 km) is the nearest airport. It is a busy terminal with flights to all the important Indian cities and one can also arrive at the Ahmadabad (260 km) international airport.
Bharuch (80 km) has a frequented railway station and is the Bharuch district capital, adjoining the Narmada district. From here one can easily reach Rajpipla.
Reaching the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife reservoir is easy and can be approached from either Ahmadabad or Vadodra. From there one can reach Ankleshwar (60 km) and then Rajpipla, which provides access to the Sanctuary.
The river and many water bodies as well as the rich flora of the region sustain a colorful bird life in Shoolpaneshwar. A staggering 192 recorded bird species, which include Great-Horned Owl, Sparrow Hawk, Shikra, Crested Serpent Eagle, Gray Hornbill and Jungle Fowl.
There are a good number of varieties of snakes and reptiles in the Sanctuary forests but have been poorly recorded or documented. Common species include Pythons, Cobra, Krait and species of Lizards.
There are around 32 important large and small mammals in the Sanctuary, most important being the Sloth Bear. Records of Leopard, Pangolin, Indian Civet Cat, Four-Horned Antelope, Chital, Barking Deer, Rhesus Macaque, Common Mongoose, Indian Porcupine and Flying Squirrel are common and in the past has had a population of Tigers.
Where to Stay
The Government rest houses are provided for visitors of the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and are available at several locations. Closest ones are at Rajpipla, Dediapada, Kewadia and Sagai.
- Visitors must contact the Deputy Conservator of Forests for the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and obtain the proper permissions to visit and explore the Sanctuary. This office can be found in Baruch.
- A guide (often suggested by the Range Office, Rajpipla) is necessary and convenient.