This small wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 152 sq km in the north east corner of Maharashtra in the Bhandara district. Nestled within the Vidarbha mountain range, it is often referred to as the ‘green oasis’ of the region. Its rocky and undulating terrain is covered with thick Teak forests that support healthy populations of some of India’s most endangered floral and faunal biodiversity.
The scenic beauty of this park is absolutely mesmerizing, as one drives through thick and lush green vegetation, with a view of tall mountains in the backdrop. Add to this, sightings of animals such as the Bengal Tiger, Common Leopard, Jungle Cat, Mouse Deer, Indian Gaur, Sloth Bear, four horned Antelope, and the Spotted Hyaena to name a few mammals. The skies and tree tops are dotted with some of the most beautiful and colourful birds, such as Storks, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Hornbills, Pitas, Shrikes, Flycatchers, Cormorants, Egrets and Herons. The park is home to more than 166 bird species. It forms the catchment area of several lakes in the region such as Nagzira, Thadezari, and Chirkhamara, which support several varieties of freshwater fish, and attract migratory water birds. These water bodies make this park a bird watchers paradise, and an ideal weekend getaway destination for locals from nearby cities and towns.
The Sanctuary is part of the proposed Nagzira-Navegaon Tiger Reserve, and is an important forest area that provides connectivity to the southern forests of Maharashtra. It is amongst the lesser known forests of central India, and therefore not severely affected by large scale tourism. It currently attracts only hard core wildlife lovers and wildlife photographers, who enjoy observing the wildlife as much as the pristine landscape, and simply being one with nature.
Nagzira is easily accessible by air, rail and road. The closest airport is in Nagpur city, from where one can hire a cab to cover the distance of 120 km to Nagzira.
There are 3 railway stations to the park, i.e. Gondia district (45 km), Bhandara district (75 km) and Nagpur (122 km). Cabs and buses are available from these stations to go to the park.
It is open from 1st October to 15th June, closing for the monsoons from 16th June to 30th September. The best time to visit the sanctuary is in the summers from March to June, when tiger sightings are at their peak. Jeeps are available on hire, and one can even take in their own vehicle, but a guide is a necessity. The Pitezhari gate is the main point from where permits to enter the sanctuary can be taken. The park is open for morning and evening safaris from 6:30 – 10:30am and 3:30 – 6:30pm.
Entry fee and charges are as follows (2013):
- Entry Fee : INR 20 for Indian and Foreigner
- Guide Charges: INR 200
- Vehicle charges : INR 50
- Camera Charges : INR 10 for still camera
The Nagzira lake in the heart of the sanctuary is a hotspot for birds, and a favorite amongst birders and wildlife photographers. A stop here is a must on your safari within the forest, as you can observe herds of Deer, birds, and sometimes even catch a glimpse of Hyenas, Jackals, Leopards and Tigers taking a water break!
Winter: Morning: 7 am to 6 pm
Summer: Morning: 7 am to 7 pm
Present prices for safaris
INR 2,500 (US$ 41) for all Nationalities
How to book jeep safaris:
Any restrictions and rules:
INR 10 for still camera
Latest information on tourism zones:
Chorakhamara Zone carrying capacity - 8 vehicles
Umarzhari Zone carrying capacity - 8 vehicles
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
April 2014: There have been good tiger sightings in the park, especially along Route B in Old Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary. Currently, the park supports a population of 12 tigers, including 3 one year old cubs. This family of 3 cubs and the mother are often sighted near the Umarghari gate in New Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary. The Nagzira lake is a busy water body, with herds of nilgai, sambhar, chital and wild boar, crowding around it towards the evening. Apart from the Nagzira lake, there are several other artificial water bodies that attract wildlife, including birds, and are popular spots for tourists to stop at during safaris.
The old saying, a forest never sleeps, is true for Nagzira and its inhabitants. Two action packed sightings are proof of this. A few months ago, on a cold winter morning, a few safari vehicles got lucky as they encountered a pack of wild dogs out on a hunt. One of the dogs caught sight of a spotted deer that had strayed away from the herd. Within seconds, the gang came into position, and launched a coordinated and strategic ambush to bring down their prey. The entire episode lasted not more than 10 minutes, in broad daylight, giving the audience an experience of a lifetime.
On another day, as the sanctuary gates opened in the morning, the tourists going on the route Tiger Trail in the Old Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary would have never dreamt of witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime scene. The air was filled with the songs of the early morning birds, when suddenly the melodious rhythms of the forest were pierced with growls and barks. As the vehicles sped towards the sounds, they saw a distressed adult tigress surrounded by a gang of 10 wild dogs, with their teeth bared towards her, snapping their jaws at any body part they could. Just when it looked like the tigress had exhausted her energy reserves, and would lose the battle, a huge male tiger walked out from the nearby bushes, and jumped right in the middle of the action, throwing the dogs off guard, and tilting the scales in favor of the big cats. Few wildlife lovers can boast of witnessing such a sighting, but Nagzira is full of surprises!