Sunday, 28 December 2014

Quick trip to Kelshi beach in Konkan

We wanted to visit Konkan costal before we say goodbye to the year 2014. We along with few friends, decided to visit Kelshi beach. As our friend came with his 1.5 year old son, we restricted our location to Kelshi only. This time we went by 14 seater bus as there were 10 travelers for this trip.

We on Kelshi Beach
About Kelshi:-
              Kelshi is a small sea-side village, Famous for its Mahalaxmi Temple (350 years old temple), Sand hillocks and Yakub baba's dargah (7th Guru of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaja), built during the Peshwa era. Also Beach is very clean and hardly any tourists visit this place. You can feel typically Konkani lifestyle in Kelshi.

Our Route:-
Best way to reach Kelshi is Pune - Tahmini - Mangaon - Goregaon - Mandangad - Kelshi. Road condition after Goregaon is in horrible state.
While returning, we chose different route. It was from Kelshi - Anjarle - Harne - Dapoli - Ambet - Mandangad - Mangaon - Tahmini - Pune. Sign boards are available to guide you.

Road in Tahmini is newly constructed and in excellent condition.

Day 1: 27nd Dec 2014, Pune – Kelshi (Total Distance traveled: 192 km):
            We started our journey at 7 AM in morning. We wanted to reach at Kelshi as soon as possible. We had our breakfast at “Quick bite” in Tahmini. Road condition in Tamhini ghat was surprisingly in excellent condition. Manasi-Abhijit joined us in Mangaon town. We chose shortest path via Goregaon.
            We reached Kelshi by 1 PM and everybody was hungry. Our stay was at Bivalkar’s house who is also poojari of Laxmi temple. Kelshi is typically kokani village and takes you to old time Konkan village. After putting bags in room, we had tasty vegetarian meal along with modak as sweet dish. We took some rest in the afternoon and got ready for beach activity by evening time. We reached the beach around 4 PM. There were hardly 9-10 tourists excluding us. Beach is not a sandy but is a bit dark brown in color. Flow of tourists is mainly in Karde, Murud or in Anjarle beach so Kelshi beach is quite lonely. You can see Yakub baba's dargah on hill from beach. We spend some time on beach playing cricket rather than entering in water for swimming. After our cricket game where our wives enjoyed more than us, we went in water. After watching beautiful sunset, we came back at Bivalkar’s house.

Kelshi Beach
Kelshi Beach

Sunset...

Sunset from Kelshi

Watching beautiful Sunset

             As Me, Himanshu and Ketaki wanted to have sea food for dinner; we went at Pawar’s home. I came here for dinner after 2 years so was aware of quality of meal. We had tasty Surmai fry and prawns curry. We wanted to have Pomfret hence we decided to visit Harne port in morning to buy Pomfret. My wife and other friends had there veg meal with Modak at Bivalkar’s house. After Dinner we went for rest in room. Our day ends with tasty sea food.

Surmai (King) fish meal

Expenses:
  • Breakfast at Quick bite: INR 800/- for 8 people
  • Stay cost at Kelshi: INR 2400/- for 2 rooms (5 people in 1 room)
  • Veg Lunch (Unlimited): INR 150/- per person + Modak at INR 10/- per pic
  • Tea: INR 10/- per glass
  • Surmai (king fish) meal: INR 200/- per person
  • Veg Dinner (Unlimited): INR 150/- per person
Day 2: 28nd Dec 2014, Kelshi – harne – Kelshi - Pune (Total Distance traveled: 192 km):
             We woke up early morning around 7 AM. After breakfast, I, Renuka, Himanshu and Ketaki went to Harne for some fish shopping whereas other went to beach for swimming. Harne port is famous for fish market which is assumed to be one of the largest suppliers of fish to Maharashtra and also Export. Fish auction carried on daily basis on the beach is must visit place. We reached at Harne by 8.30 AM. I was very excited to watch the fish auction and market. We decided to purchase fish for lunch as well as to take home. There are many shops where you have to just give them a purchased fish and then will pack in ice box. It is great place for fish lovers and after some bargaining, we purchased Prawns, king fish and Pomplet fish. You can have huge verity of fishes which are fresh and brought directly from sea. After my favorite fish shopping, we came back home at Kelshi.

Harne Beach

Harne Fish Market

Paradise for Fish lover

              After quick tea/coffee break, we all went on beach for swimming. Kelshi has a long, scenic, unexplored beach. Only we were on the beach with only the sea waves for company and it was like we were on our private beach. We spent around two hours and then returned to our rooms. We had tasty sea food at Pawar’s place. As we had visited temple and Darga in Kelshi, we took rest in the noon. 
             Mahalaxmi Temple was built during the Peshwa regime. It also houses the idols of Lord Ganpati and Lord Shiva. The temple lies beneath two huge domes. The famous Yakub Baba dargah is located at a distance of about one kilometer from the Mahalaxmi temple. Yakub baba's dargah is a great example of Hindu Muslim unity in India. He had given advice to Shivaji Maharaja during attack on Dabhol. Later on Shivaji Maharaja – The King of Hindu Empire expressed his wish to build a Dargah & awarded land measuring 653 acres. The work on the Dargah of Yakub baba was started by Shivaji Maharaja and later continued by SambhajiRaje but somehow it was never completed. Later Bajirao-I tried to take the work to its fruition. Every year people celebrate Urus on 6th December. The tradition to begin this Urus by Hindu people is practiced even today. From this place, you can see scenic Kelshi beach view and large number of coconut trees.

Mahalaxmi Temple

Yakub baba Darga
Yakub baba Darga

Kelshi beach view from Darga

             By 4 pm, we started with our return journey to Pune via Dapoli. In Anjarle there is Kadyavaracha Ganapati (कड्यावरचा गणपती) temple. As I had sea food lunch, I skipped temple visit but others went inside. I have been to this temple earlier. It’s Very clean and beautiful Ganesh temple. Load Ganapati idol from this temple is very old. There is small manmade lake in front of temple and you can see large number of turtles in the lake. Overall atmosphere in the temple was very pleasant. We saw thousands of Sea gulls on Anjarle beach. When I was busy in clicking these beautiful migratory birds, all of sudden small girl came on beach and ran towards birds so they flew away. Her parents were enjoying this act and I was highly disappointed by it. 
            We took small break between Anjarle and Harne for Sunset. There is a point from where you can see entire village name Pajpandhari which is located very close to sea. Typically Konkani village located very close to sea, Suvarnadurg fort and Anjarle beach on right side – it gives you breathtaking view. This is our favorite point on this route. We choose Tahmini ghat for return journey and we cross Tamhini by 10 PM as there was enough traffic in ghat section. We reached home by 1 AM mid-night safely.

Mobile Photography Trick w/o using software tool... Me at Kelshi Beach
Expense:
  • Breakfast: INR 20/- per person
  • Tea: INR 10/- per person
  • Bus entry fee at Harne port: INR 50/-
  • Fish as per size and season availability
  • Pomplet fish meal making chargers: INR 100/- per plate
  • Veg unlimited lunch: INR 150/- + Modak at INR 10/- per pic
  • Vada pav at Mangaon: INR 15/-
  • Bus Rent for 2 days-600km: INR 8400/- (As it was my office bus with same driver, he didn’t charge me for night halt else halt chargers are between INR 200 to 400/- per night)
I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Trip to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary and Revdanda

After trip to Blackbuck national park Velavadar, I wanted to visit one more wildlife sanctuary. Due to lack of leaves, I decided to visit to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary on weekend with office colleagues. As Revdanda and Korlia Fort were in my wish list, we decided to visit that location as well.

Travelers for this trip me, Harsha, Rohan and Darshan

Indian Valture
Indian Valture

About Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary and Revdanda:
            Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary in Raigad district, Maharashtra. It is spread across area of 52 Sq. km. Although it is mainly a bird sanctuary; a few spices of mammals like giant squirrel, Indian fox, Bonnet macaque, Indian Civet, Langur, Sambar, wild cat, deer and leopard can also be spotted. However it is very difficult to do so. This Sanctuary was formed in year 1986.

Revdanda is a small village towards the south of Alibag. This place is famous for untouched beautiful beach along with a Portuguese fort known as Revdanda beach Fort.

To reach Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, the route is Pune – Join mulshi road from Chandani chowk – Tamhini ghat – Kolad (Do not take left turn of Nijampur MIDC area) – At kolad, join highway and take left for Roha – After Roha, drive till Talekhar village – At Talekhar village, look for sign board of Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary on your left.
Another route is Pune – Join Bangalore-Mumbai National highway – Drive towards Mumbai via express way – Cross khandala – Take khopoli exit – Pen – Alibag (No need to enter in the city) – Take left turn for Naogaon/Revdanda – Cross bridge on creek after Revdanda – Take left after bridge- Drive for around 7-8km and look for sign board of Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary on your right.

Day 1: 20th Dec 2014: Trip to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary:
          We woke up by 5.30 AM and left home at 6:30 AM. We chose the route via Tahmini – Kolad. A freezing cold weather welcomed us in Tamhini Ghat. We took a pit stop for breakfast at Hotel Quick Bite. It was a pleasant journey till Talekhar village. It was 10.30 am in the clock and we were ahead of our plan. We decided to visit Korlia Fort in the town of Korlia. This fort was built in 1521 by the Portuguese with the permission of Burhan Nizam.

Korlia Fort

Steps for fort behind Light house

            Korlia was initially known as the “Rock of Chaul”. In 1594, there was a chaotic situation after Burhan Nizam died. The Portuguese tried to take advantage of this by building fortification. But Hussein Nizam perceived the danger and decided to fortify this mountain himself. The Portuguese opposed this and they signed a treaty. It was decided that inseam would not build a fort and the Portuguese would not pose him any threat on the seas. Second Burhan Nizam succeeded in building a fort there. Sardar Fattekhan cannoned the walls of Revdanda fort soon. The Portuguese were short of soldiers, and ordered more army. They then attacked the fort by invading the base village. They won the fight and captured Korlai fort. In 1684, Sambhaji Maharaj made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fort. In 1739, Chimaji appa (From Maratha emperor) made a strong attack on the fort and captured it.

Entrance of Korlia Fort

              You can visit this place to see Lighthouse and Fort. By paying nominal fee, lighthouse engineer explains the functionality of lighthouse, Radar system and how the entire system communicates with the ships and the control room which is in Mumbai. After a quick visit to the lighthouse, we went on fort. Proper stone steps are laid till the top. It takes hardly 15-20 mins to reach on the top. The fort is mainly divided into 6 parts. Top most point is known as Balle killa and there is an old church. If you entered in from the steps on the lighthouse side, then you are in the 5th section. On your left i.e. towards West side, you can see the storehouse for ammunition and place to park ships at that time. Start your trail till Church and then come back to visit last section which is on the western side.

storehouse for ammunition and place to park ships

Shiv Temple

               Entrance door to different section of fort are quite interesting whereas there are 5 bastions on the fort. You can see old cannons placed in bastion facing Revdanda fort. There is small temple of lord Mahadev on fort and church. View of the sea from fort is breathtaking and this is the best place to witness the sun on horizon spreading orange-red color all over the sky.

korlia Beach 

Light House

              After a quick visit to the fort, we came down from western side of fort and left this beautiful, untouched fort. Our journey began and soon we reached to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary. We had already booked a tent for 4 people. This location is within sanctuary with 4 tents and 1 dormitory. Group of ladies from nearby village serve tasty veg and non-veg meals. Tents have capacity of 12 people. It was 2 PM in the clock and we had our tasty meal. We took a walk inside the forest for around 1 km and then came back for rest. We didn’t see any bird activity as such.

Phansad Forest Map
Phansad Forest Map

Tent at Phansad Forest
Tent at Phansad Forest

            We decided to explore the forest area next day morning. To save time, we booked a bullock cart to drop us at Chikhan Gaan area. There are few points where water is available in ponds through water springs. In local language such place is known as Gaan (गाण). Different points in the forest are Dharna chi Gaan, Sabas Gaan, Phansad Gaan and Chikhal Gaan. Among these Chikhan Gaan is famous point to spot forest birds. This forest consists of more than 160 spices of birds and 17 spices of mammals.

Information board
By 4 PM, We left the Sanctuary and went to our next destination, Kashid beach. Our intention to visit this place was to see the sunset. Due to weekend, the beach was crowded and people from Pune and Mumbai were enjoying watersports. We had a walk towards south of the beach where there were hardly any tourist. Kashid Beach was very clean, white sandy curvy beach. We spent some time on the beach and then witnessed the beautiful sunset. Watching the sun sinking into the sea at the horizon spreading a red tint all over the sky…. my favorite activity on the beach. After sun set we had some snacks on the beach. There were too many food stalls to offer lots of tasty snacks items.

Crowded Kashid beach on weekends

Beach Games

Sunset at Kashid beach

Time to sail back...Sunset at Kashid 

               We left Kashid beach by 7 PM. We had small halt in Nandgaon village to buy water and fish for meal. There are no shops available near Phansad Sanctuary. We ordered veg meal and king fish meal for night. It was very good experience to stay in a tent and close to forest area.

Menu card at Phansad Forest
Menu card at Phansad Forest

Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 2500/- (approx. 35 Lit at average INR 69/lit)
  • Breakfast: INR 310/- for 4 people at Quick bite
  • Car parking at Light house: INR 20/-
  • Entry fee at light house: INR 10/- per person
  • Camera fee at lighthouse: INR 20/- per camera
  • Coconut water at Fort: INR 30/- per coconut
  • Phansad forest entry fee: INR 30/- per person and INR 15/- for child
  • Phansad forest Camera fee: INR 100/- per camera
  • Car Parking chargers: INR 100/-
  • Snacks at Kashid beach: INR 110/- (Maggi-INR20/-, Burji: INR 30/-, Tea-INR 10/-)
  • Small size King fish: INR 80/-
  • Sea food preparation: INR 80/-
  • Veg meal: INR 100/- per person
  • Extra Bed for tent: INR 30/- per person

Day 2: 21st Dec 2014: Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary – Revdanda - Pune:
             We woke by 5.15 AM and were ready for morning trail. The bullock cart came to pick us at 6 AM sharp and we went in the forest. It was pitch dark outside and the ride was a thrilling experience. We decided to visit Chikhal Gaan area to spot birds. This place is also a home of giant squirrel. It is 6km from the tent location. After 45 min of the bullock cart ride, we reached at the spot. We spent around 2 hours in forest exploring birds. Unfortunately we were unable to capture birds in camera but saw birds like Minivet, oriole, Asian paradise, ashy drongo, Rufose Woodpecker, Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker and many more other birds. We were hearing only the chirping but the overall experience was amazing.

Way to Chikhan Gaan
Way to Chikhan Gaan

Forest routes

Mnivet Bird at Phansad forest
Mnivet Bird at Phansad forest

Goldenback Woodpecker
Goldenback Woodpecker

             When we left Chikhal Gaan, we saw some activity on a tree and when we saw carefully, it saw pair of giant squirrel. Due to dense forest, we were unable to click pictures. We preferred walking 6 km during our return journey. After walk for a km, we arrive at Vulture restro point/ Vulture restaurant point. This is small plateau where you can spot Indian Vulture. Generally forest department collect dead cattle (After examination from veterinary doctor) from nearby village and keep here as food for Indian Vulture. We saw 5-6 Indian Vultures on a tree. Spending some time at Vulture restro point we began with our return trail.

Indian Vulture
Indian Vulture

Watchtower at Phansad
Watchtower at Phansad
              We came to our tent by 1 PM and packed our luggage. We decided to have lunch on the way to Pune along with Revdanda fort. Our Next destination was Revdanda. After crossing the bridge on river kundlika, we entered in Revdanda village. It is a small village famous for Beach and Revdanda beach fort. We placed an order for sea food and veg meal at Mr Kadam’s house which is close to Revdanda fort.

Revdanda Fort was built in year 1528 by Portuguese whereas prior to that, they built a factory in year 1516. Later they built wall for the factory and then construction of fort. In July 1683, the Marathas attempted an attack on Revdanda. The Marathas besieged the fort, but had to withdraw when the Portuguese attacked Fonda. In 1806, the British took over the charge of Revdanda. Angres family conquered the fort in 1817 but the British got the fort back in 1818.
              This beautiful beach fort consist of strong fortification walls holding sea waves, Bastions, Cannon and 7 floored watch tower (Mainly known as Saatkhani i.e. 7 story tower). The circumference of the fort is around 5 km. The fortification wall surrounds the entire village. Most of land inside fort is private property of villagers hence it became difficult to explore entire fort. Near the watch tower, you can see 4-5 cannons. On right side of tower, you can see the grave of Portuguese queen. It has a symbol of Portuguese emperor which can be seen easily. After exploring fort area, we went on the beach.

Revdanda Beach fort
Revdanda Beach fort

Saathkhani watch tower
Saathkhani watch tower

Revdanda beach
Revdanda beach

Birds on Revdanda beach
Birds on Revdanda beach

Greater Flamingo at Revdanda
Greater Flamingo at Revdanda

            We spent more than hour on the beach. This beach is also famous of migratory birds like Sea gulls and Greater Flamingos. After beach visit, we had tasty lunch at Kadam’s house. It was 4 PM in clock and we began with our return journey. For return journey, we preferred Khopoli – Expressway road and reached Pune safely by 9.30 PM.

Seagulls at beach
Seagulls at beach

Expense:
  • Bullock cart ride for 12km (6km till Chikhal Gaan and 6km return) : INR 500/-
  • Breakfast: INR 25/- per person and coffee: INR 15/-
  • Tent chargers: INR 500/- for tent per night
  • Lunch at Revdanda: INR 200/- for King fish meal and INR 120/- for veg meal
  • Toll at Alibag MIDC: INR 20/- One way
  • Toll at Express way: INR 146/- One way

Contact details:
  • Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary Mumbai office: 022-25402522.
  • Nilam – Forest officer at Phansad: 9221996284. (It may happen that posting of Nilam will change after few years so contact Mumbai office)
  • Mahila Bachat Gat for meal: 9225566024.
  • Madhukar Naik, Bullock cart owner: 9273682692.
  • Kadam family at Revdanda for meal arrangement: 9209218382.

Other Travel blog on Konkan:

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Indian savanna - Blackbuck National Park at Velavadar, Gujarat

We wanted to begin this winter season with a forest trip. We decided to visit Velavadar national park forest which is famous for Blackbucks. Apart from Blackbucks, it is also famous for wolves, hyenas and migratory birds. Velavadar National park is also known as Blackbuck National park.

Travelers for this trip were me and wife Renuka.

At Velavadar

About Velavadar National Park, Gujarat:
Blackbuck national park is located in Bhal region of Saurashtra, around 42 km from Bhavnagar city. It is spread over an area of 34.08 sq. km, which is typically a grassland vegetation forest area. It was established in 1976.
          The sanctuary has been declared primarily for Blackbucks (Antelope species). You can see them in their natural mood, leaping high in air, running, feeding, drinking, rutting and chasing. Apart from Blackbucks, other species found here are nilgai (bluebull), wolves, bustards, hyenas, lesser floricans, foxes, jackals and jungle cats. Velavadar is also a home of many birds like pelicans, flamingoes, ducks, waders, white storks, painted storks and sarus cranes etc. The Park is a heaven for demoiselle cranes, common cranes and a variety of raptors including spotted eagles and steppe eagles. The Park provides one of the world's best roosting sites to thousands of harriers that arrive here from Central Europe in winter.
         To reach here, you can take a train from Pune/Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar is well connected by rail as well as by road. Private bus service like Tanna and Rajdhani travels have regular bus routes from Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar.
If you are travelling by road then you need to take a right turn after Adhelai village.

We had total 4-5 safaris in the park in privately hired car from Bhavnagar.

Blackbuck
BlackBuck in Action
View all the images in full screen for better view!

Day 1: 28th Nov 2014 – Pune - Ahmedabad - Velavadar (Blackbuck National park)
             Our journey began on 27th Nov 2014. We boarded the Veraval Express train (Train No 11088) at 7.50 PM for Ahmedabad. Another option was Duronto Express but we didn’t get advance tickets however our return journey was by Ahmedabad-Pune Duronto train. After a 12 hour journey, we reached Ahmedabad by 7.50 AM.
             We went to Paldi area by auto for the further bus journey. We got seats in Tanna travels and the journey began towards the National park. Our Cab driver Kaushik Joshi was waiting for us at Adhelai village. By 12 in noon, we reached Adhelai village. We were too hungry so we had our lunch on a road side Dhaba and then went to Velavadar. Blackbuck National park (a.k.a. Velavadar National Park) is just 10km away from the highway. More than 40-50 demoiselle cranes and common cranes welcomed us on the way to the park. 

Common Cranes
Common Cranes 

Blackbuck
Male BlackBuck

Blackbuck
Who's There - Calf Blackbuck

            Quickly we checked in the guest house named Kaliyar Bhavan Forest Lodge. It is located inside the National park which offers you a magnificent view of the grassland vegetation along with blackbucks. There was no Non A/c room available while booking hence we booked A/C room. Advance booking is required and process is bit tedious as you are supposed to send a DD to book a room. Process to book the room and contact details are shared at the end of this blog post. The hotel is controlled by Gir Sasan forest department and rooms are very comfortable and clean.

Blackbuck
Mother and Calf crossing road

Blackbuck
Male Blackbuck
            
           After taking some rest, by 3 PM we took permit for Evening safari inside the forest area. Hiring a guide for every safari is compulsory. As our agenda in the park was photography and sighting of Wolf, Wild cat and hyena; we requested the forest officer to give us a good tracker. A guide named Vishal was appointed for us for next 3 days. Vishal was a perfect person for what we were looking for. He had vast knowledge of the wildlife from Velavadar and was a very down to earth person. We 3 became very good friends after a few safaris.
            Forest department gave us bad news on day 1. Due to excessive grass cutting hyena families had vacated their territory and that was disappointing news for me as I hoped to see a few hyenas. Still we (along with the guide Vishal) decided to give our best to spot hyena.

Nelgai a.k.a. Blue Bull

              The National park is mainly divided into two areas. One is Wetland area where you can spot many birds and mammals whereas second area is grassland area where all mammals and harries can be easily spotted. We decided to start our safari with Wetland and then to visit grassland area for Harriers and carnivore species. The first animal that we came across was of course the Blackbuck. In hundreds! In the next three days we wandered in the "National Park", we came across several large groups of Blackbucks. They seemed happy with so much food around and nothing much to disturb them except the wolf! Blackbucks are fast and are known to reach speeds of up to 80 km/hr.
           We saw many Blackbucks and wetland birds like greater Flamingo, White Pelican and many more birds. You can spot Eagles at the end of wetland area. After roaming for 2 hours in Wetland area, we came in grassland area to click Blackbucks in the evening light and to enjoy harriers. Velavadar Park is also famous for being the largest site for roosting harriers, i.e. in winters; thousands of harriers roost here by dusk and fly out in search of food by dawn.

Indian Spotted Eagle
Indian Spotted Eagle

White Pelican
White Pelican

kestrel
kestrel

Pallied Harrier
Pallied Harrier

              We were about to end our day; hence we started with our return journey to forest guest house. All of sudden we saw more than 400 blackbucks crossing road. Vishal asked us to keep an eye on the grass as the blackbuck might have seen Wolf or hyena. We waited till all crossed the road but couldn’t spot the wolf. We were back in the car and resumed the further journey. Suddenly gorgeous looking Wolf came in front of car from grass. The Wolf is the main predator in the area and Striped Hyena often steals a kill from the wolf. I was unable to capture him in my camera but it was an amazing experience to watch a Wolf with hardly 10-12 Ft away from us.
           We had dinner by 7.30 PM at the guest house. Apart from us, only 4 people were staying in the guest house. We meet them to discuss about the sighting in forest. It was really nice meeting young enthuse new friends of age 40 to 60. We spend 2 hours with each other talking on wildlife and photography; it happens when like minded people meet.

New Friends

Expenses:
  • Pune-Ahmadabad train ticket: INR 700/- (Sleeper coach for 2 people)
  • Auto to Paldi area from railway station: INR 70/-
  • Lunch: INR 200/- for 2 person on highway side dhaba
  • Safari entry permit: INR 200/- for car
  • Safari guide: INR 100/-
  • Camera chargers for safari: INR 200/- for 2 SLR camera
  • Dinner (Veg meal): INR 300/- for 2 person

Day 2: 29th Nov 2014 – Velavadar (Blackbuck National park)
The park opens at 7 AM. We were ready along with Vishal by 6.30 in the morning. We decided to spend more time in wetland area as chances of spotting a wolf was high. We spend around 2.5 hours but were only able to see birds, Blackbucks and Nilgai. To some extent we saw few wild boars closely. We left this place after good sighting of wildlife and went in the grassland area. After enjoying the sight of blackbuck’s activity in grassland and few harries (Usually Harries fly out in search of food in nearby farms area and return to park area for roosting) we decided to give one more chance to spot wolf in other part of the park.

Nelgai
Male Nelgai

Female Nelgai
Miss Nelgai

            We again went to the wetland area in search of wolf. We took the rightmost route which is parallel to a small river stream. Here we saw albino blackbuck. Entire white color blackbuck known as Albino blackbuck and that color appears due to some skin disease. On the other side of the small river stream, we saw many blackbucks crossing river stream with high speed. Now we started searching for the predator that had scared them. Without wasting much time, we spotted the royal entry of a wolf. Generally wolves prefer hunting in groups but this wolf was in mood of hunting alone. We saw his 3 failed attempts of hunting small blackbucks. It was really memorable movement. After his unsuccessful attempts, he gave up and took rest under a tree. Soon he crossed the water stream and went inside grassland. We were lucky enough to follow him for around 40min. Our morning safari was fabulous.

Green bee eater
Green bee eater

Montagu's Harrier
Montagu's Harrier

Blackbuck fight
Blackbuck fight

Running Blackbuck
I saw Wolf...Run fast

Prey and Predator...Wolf and Blackbuck
Prey and Predator...Wolf and Blackbuck

Run fast....Blackbuck in Velavadar
Run fast....Blackbuck in Velavadar

Wolf after 2 Failed attempt of hunting Blackbuck's Calf
Wolf after 2 Failed attempt of hunting Blackbuck's Calf

             We came back to the guest house for lunch and took rest for an hour. By 3 PM, again we left for evening safari. By now we had seen wolves twice, but unable to spot hyena and Wild cat. We decided to focus more on Wild cat as hyena was rare to spot. Evening Safari was quite disappointing as we unable to spot any predator. We only enjoyed Blackbuck and birds from the park. In the evening we met our friends inside the park and shared our contact details with each other. They left Velavadar by 6 PM. It was really nice meeting Arvind Sing, Suru Nair, Rahul Bhagwat and Subhash Bhagwat. Hope will meet soon in the forest again. 

White Pelicans
White Pelicans 

Grey PARTRIDGE
Grey PARTRIDGE

Small kingfisher.
Small kingfisher...Ready for catch

We had tasty food and slept soon in the hope to spot at wild cat and hyena tomorrow.

Veg meal
Veg meal

Expenses:
  • Morning Safari entry permit: INR 250/- (INR 50 extra on Weekend hence INR 250/-)
  • Safari guide: INR 200 for entire day
  • Camera chargers: INR 400/- for entire day for 2 SLR camera
  • Lunch (Veg meal): INR 300/- for 2 person
  • Evening Safari entry permit: INR 250/- (Weekend rate)
  • Dinner (veg meal): INR 300/- for 2 person
  • Coffee: INR 7/- per cup

Day 3: 30th Nov 2014 – Velavadar (Blackbuck National park) - Pune
Our Morning safari began at 7 AM. Today we decided not to visit Wetland area and just look for predator in the grassland area of Velavadar Park. We spent 3 hours but were unable to spot those 2 predators. By 10 AM, we gave up and decided o leave the forest. We were supposed to start our journey towards Ahmedabad to catch Duronto train. Our guide Vishal was feeling bad that we were unable to spot wild cat and hyena. Just to give a last try, he called another guide who was inside the forest with other tourist. We got to know that they spotted wild cat around an hour ago. There was a thin chance to spot it again. I asked him to take us on that route as Cat family mammals are quite lazy and they spend more time in same area.

Wild boar
Wild boar

Morning Walk is good for health...Male Blackbuck
Morning Walk is good for health...Male Blackbuck

Blackbuck Jump
Calf Jump

               Our search operation began with enthusiasm and hopes. We went till the end of that route but no sighting. Our eyes were on grassland and suddenly I saw a brown color tail with black ring at the end in the grass. I tapped on Vishal’s shoulder and said I spotted her, there is she. We then stopped our vehicle slowly and the wild cat was just 5-6 Ft away from us. As she was in grass so I didn’t get proper photos. We waited for few minutes and she came out from the grass, crossed the road quickly and disappeared in the grassland. Fortunately there was a watch tower on the grassland side. We climbed the tower and searched her. Due to color of grass and the cat, it was difficult to find her. Finally we saw her and manage to click few photos. I had waited such a long time for this moment! Wow, what a relief that we saw all the mammals from forest expect hyena. 

Wild Cat look
Wild Cat look

Search Wild cat in this picture in 5 seconds... Perfect example of Camouflage
Search Wild cat in this picture in 5 seconds... Perfect example of Camouflage

While returning to the room, we saw a wolf again (3rd time) but it was far away from our vehicle. We came back to the room and packed our bags. Before leaving the forest area, we visited the museum located inside the forest. It has a nice photo collection and information about the forest and the species. Overall it was truly an amazing trip. We were not feeling bad as we couldn’t spot hyenas as its pure luck and we can’t control the nature. May be it was a sign for us to visit this savanna forest again for hyena and peace.

Guide Ramjan, Guide Vishal, Me and Renuka (From L to R)

Time to say Bye to Beautiful Velavadar

              We hired same the vehicle till Ahmedabad. We had lunch on the highway and reached Ahmedabad by 4 PM. As we were having some time, we visited the Gandhi Ashram, Sabarmati river front and Kankaria Lake. We boarded Duronto train by 10.20 PM and reached Pune safely by 7.15 AM

Expenses:
  • Morning Safari entry permit: INR 250/-for car (weekend rate)
  • Guide chargers: INR 100/- for morning session.
  • Camera charger: INR 200/- for 2 SLR camera
  • Car rent for forest safari + drop to Ahmadabad: INR 7000/-
  • Lunch on highway side dhaba: INR 300/-
  • Local day Bus ticket: INR 50/- (30 for men and 20 for woman)
  • Kakaria Lake entry fee: INR 20/- for 2 person
  • Coconut water at Gandi ashram: INR 40/- per coconut (costliest coconut water I had ever in India)
  • Snacks such as chats, Dabeli: rate as per ordered dish.
  • Dinner at Lake Side hotels: INR 160/- for 2 person
  • Ahmadabad-Pune Duronto train ticket: INR 2260/- for 2 person in 3AC coach 

Process to book Kaliyar bhuvan guest house at Velavadar Park:
  1. Contact to Forest department, Bhavnagar for booking on 0278-2426425.
  2. If room is available then block/book a room by providing them travelers name and contact details
  3. Create a DD by name “RFO Velavadar ” 
  4. Fax the DD copy to Bhavnagar office (Fax number: 0278-2426425, Same as contact number)
  5. Send DD on mentioned address: Assistant conservator of forest, Blackbuck national park, Bahumali Bhavan, Annex building, Block no S-10, forest department, Bhavnagar 364001, Gujarat
  6. After 5 days check whether room is booked by your name or not.
  7. They do not provide acknowledgement receipt in advance so better to cross-check on phone about booking and carry photo copy of DD and ID proof on trip.

Contact details from Velavadar:
  • Blackbuck National park, Bhavnagar office: 0278-2426425
  • Car on Rent from Bhavnagar: Kaushik bhai joshi 0-9426461814, 0-9099553585
  • Vishal Zapadia, Guide/forest Tracker in National park: 0-9978770156. (Most experience guide after Ramjan but very enthusiastic person) 
  • Ramjan khan, Guide/forest Tracker in National park: 0-8140810087. (Most experience guide from Park)

Some more Clicks



European Roller
European Roller with broken beak... how he survives but the fact is he does

Parrot
Parrot
Albino Blackbuck
Albino Blackbuck
Blackbucks crossing...
Blackbucks crossing...whereas 2 young Blackbuck were watching us.

Male Blackbuck
Male Blackbuck

Young blackbuck
Look at me...Young Blackbuck 

All rights for images reserved and required prior permission to use.

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. 
Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune