Sunday, 3 January 2016

Pashan Lake bird watching 2016, Pune

The winter season is delight for bird watchers. I love to do bird watching and bird photography hence doesn’t want to miss an opportunity with my Camera. There are many places around Pune where you can see migratory birds. I visited Pashan Lake in the month of Jan 2016. You can spend plenty of time by just watching birds and their activity. 

Spot Billed Duck
Spot Billed Duck

About Pashan Lake:
               Pashan lake is artificial Lake near Pashan area. The lake was built in 1990s to supply drinking water. Pashan lake has a total catchment area of 40 square kilometers (15 sq. mi). Now water quality deteriorated due to quantity of sewage water and other effluents mixing in the water. This Lake area and surrounding area attracts migratory birds and so is popular spot for bird watchers from Pune.There is narrow footpath Nature trail along Lake. Nature trail is best place for Bird watching and to capture photo.

To reach Pashan Lake, join Paud road (by flyover from Dashapuja Ganesh temple) from Pune city – Paud road – chandani chuwk – Do not join on national highway – From Chandani chuwk take right (which goes towards Pashan area) –Pashan Road – Drive till Pashan circle – Take left on circle – Do not take right turn towards Pashan-Sus Road –Keep looking for an old arch on left – Take left there – Drive around 1 km and park your vehicle to explore area.

For footpath nature trail, if you are facing to Lake then keep walking on left side – You will find narrow footpath which goes inside forest – Keep walking and explore other trails on right side which take you close to water body. Please mind you steps as some part of land close to lake is quite middy or covered by water plants.

Jan 2016: Kothrud to Pashan Lake (Distance is approx. 9-10 km)
             I’m regular visitor for Pashan Lake for bird watching in every winter. It is just as paradise place for bird watchers and that to so close to the city area. There is a small island in-between Lake which is home for most of the wet land bird. It’s better to carry binocular. Many migratory wetland birds travel to Pashan Lake. Due to low monsoon in year 2015, less number of birds arrived in the lake area.

Spoonbill at Pashan
Spoonbill at Pashan

Better to visit Pashan area from Nov to Feb. From Feb water level gets reduce hence you can go on trial around lake to explore more birds.
I don’t know what to write more on Pashan Lake so I will post list of birds which you can see in Pashan Lake. You can help me by adding birds name which you have seen in this area.

Ruddy sheldduck at Pashan
Ruddy sheldduck at Pashan

Red wattled Lapwing
Purple Moorhen
Mahratta Woodpecker
White breasted Kingfisher
Brahmin Duck
Ashy Wren warbler
Indian Pipit
Glossy IBIS
Red-rumped swallow
Common Coot
Common Pochard
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Jungle Babbler
Green Bee-eater 
Spot-bill Duck
Little Cormorant
Laughing Doves 
Purple Sunbird
Cotton Teal
Forest Wagtail
Pheasant tailed Jacana
Pied Kingfisher
Grey Wagtail
Indian Whiskered Tern
Shoveller Duck
Yellow Wagtail
House Crow
    Painted stork     Large pied Wagtail
Jungle Crow
Pied Bushchat
Open billed Stork
Small Blue Kingfisher
Purple heron
    Spoonbill stork
Bonnelli's Eagle
Pond Heron
    Wooly necked stork
Rufousbacked Shrike

Redvented Bulbul
Magpie Robin

Below are snaps taken during my various visits to Pashan Lake.




Spot Billed duck family

Spot Billed duck

Purple swamphen

Glossy ibis

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni

Friday, 1 January 2016

Pune’s Bird Paradise - Bhigwan, Diksal bird watching in 2016

I visit Bhigwan at least once a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception for my activity. I and Renuka decided to start New Year 2016 with visit to Bhigwan. Plan was to spend 4-5 hours in Bhigwan (main location is known as Diksal village) and come back home by late afternoon.

Greater Flamingo... Clicked in year 2015

About Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
Bhigwan, a catchment area of Ujani Dam, is about 105 km from Pune on the Pune-Solapur highway (NH 9). An area of about 18000 hectares has been proposed as a sanctuary for migratory birds. It is an amazing place to see wet land migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.

To reach at Diksal village (near Bhigwan), easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take left at Bhigwan square on highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow colored) on that T junction at left hand side of road. Otherwise ask local villagers about Diksal / “where can we see Rohit bird (Marathi name of Greater Flamingo bird)?”

You can spend half day or full day along with your camera and binocular. More than 60 bird’s species can be found in this backwater.

Travlers for this trip were Me, Renuka and Father-in-law Girish ghospurkar.

1st Jan 2016: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary (Total distance travel by car: 230km):
               As we had to cover around 105-110km so we decided to leave Pune before 5 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. Road condition of highway was excellent. Due to wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We told our boatman friend Bharat Nagare to arrange some breakfast. We were excited to see the migratory birds.

Ruddy Shelduck at Bhigwan
Ruddy Shelduck at Bhigwan

Painted Stork
              When we reached the village at around 6 AM, I was not surprise by looking at back water. Water level was quite low as compare to last year and main reason was fewer monsoons in India in year 2015. After some tasty breakfast we left for bird watching in the boat. Since it was a first day of year 2016, we were the only bird watchers in the catchment area.
               We got to know that very few Flamingos were landed in Bhigwan backwater hence less chances to spot them. We were totally fine as every year we saw a lot of Flamingos groups. We saw a group of Woolly neck storks and we went in that direction. Every year we hardly manage to see Birds like Wooly neck stork, bar headed geese but this year then came in large numbers. We spend more time on clicking them.

Woolly neck Stork

Woolly neck stork and bar headed geese at Bhigwan
Woolly neck stork and bar headed geese at Bhigwan

Northern Pintail at Bhigwan
Northern Pintail at Bhigwan 

Northern shoveler

bar headed geese at Bhigwan
bar headed geese at Bhigwan

               We left that place to spot other birds. We went on other side of catchment area by boat. We saw huge group of Painted stork. We spend around hour and watched there morning activity, sun basking etc. Besides Flamingo, we spotted Woolly Necked Stork, Coot, ibis, bar headed gooses, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck, Comb Duck, northern pintail and many more.

I got my catch...Sea gull at Bhigwan

Painted Stork

              It was quite bright now, and we slowly made our way back to village by boat. During our return journey, we decided to take a walk on the bank of Dam. Bharat left with our extra bags to his home and we joined him after an hour. After some nice click during trail, we came back. Our trail ends on a good note.

Open billed Stork

Bar Headed gooses

We returned to Bharat’s house and had lunch on highway and returned home by 4 PM. If you want to witness beauty of migratory birds (Our guest) then what you are waiting for.

Bird List which we saw in Bhigwan:

Greater Flamingo
Garganey Duck
Wire-tailed Swallow
Pueple Swamphen
Pochard Duck
Common Swallow
Common Moorhen
Bar headed Duck
Red Rumped Swallow
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Teal
Purple Rumped Sunbird
Glossy Ibis
Northern pintail
Red Avadavat
Black Ibis
Domicile crane
Spotted Munia
Oriental White Ibis
River Tern
Black Drango
Asian Open bill Stork
Common tern
Red-Wattled Lapwing
Painted Stork
Gull billed Tern
Yellow-Wattled Lapwing
Woolly Necked Stork
Grey Heron
Common Sandpiper
Purple Heron
Western Marsh Harrier
Spotted Sandpiper
Pond Heron
White Throated Kingfisher
Curlew Sandpiper
Cattle Egret
Common Kingfisher
Black Tailed Godwit
Median Egret
Pied Kingfisher
Black Winged Stilts
Large Egret
White eye Pochard
Northern Shoveler
Eurasian Spoonbill
Pallas Gull
Ruddy Shelduck
Little Cormorant
Brown headed seagulls
Spot-billed Duck
Yellow Wagtail
Black headed seagulls
Common Coot
Grey Wagtail

Comb Duck
Green bee-eater

Below are snaps taken during my various visits to Bhigwan 

Boating at Bhigwan for bird watching

Close up of Painted Strok

Spoon Bill

Woolly neck stork

Ruddy Shelduck

Mile sur mera tumhara....Sea gulls at Bhigwan

Lets fly home...Open bill stork

For More Photos, Click here

  • Car Petrol: INR 1500/- (Avg INR 67/Lit, Total distance cover by car was 230km) 
  • Toll on NH-09: INR 30/- (Return toll) 
  • Toll 2 on NH-09: INR 50/- (Return Toll) 
  • Boat ride: INR 1200/- for boat (Normal chargers are INR 1400-1600/- per boat) 

Contact number:
  • Bharat (Boatman from Diksal): 9766292989. 

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Trip to Guhagar-Hedvi-Velaneshwar-Bhudal & Kolthare

I have been to this place with wife 2 years back but wanted to visit this lovely place again with friends. We took advantage of Christmas vacation and planned a 4 day trip to Guhagar, Hedvi, Velneshwar, Bhudal and kolathare.

Guhagar Beach
Guhagar Beach

About Guhagar and surrounding: 
               Guhagar is situated on west coast of Maharashtra, India. A word GUHAGAR means cave house in local language. Guhagar is a scenic town with hilly terrain. A perfect tropical paradise. It is even called a temple town. It is famous for Durga Devi temple and Vyadeshwar temple. Guhagar beach is one of the main tourist destinations, and is a unique place to enjoy Konkani culture.

Velneshwar and Hedvi are the two places near Guhagar, famous for the natural beauty and the temples. Dashbhuj Ganapati temple (Lord Ganesh with 10 hands) is major attraction of Hedvi.

Bhidhal is small village with beautiful beach. It is untouched area by tourist.

There are 2-3 ways (via Tamhini ghat OR via Varandha ghat OR via Kumbharali ghat) to reach Guhagar. Best way to reach at Guhagar from Pune is, Catch National highway 4 (Mumbai-Bangalore highway) towards Kolhapur/Bangalore direction – take right turn at Umbraj – Paatan village – Kumbharali ghat – Koyananagar – Chipalun – Take a left on National highway 17 for Guhagar (There are different ways from Chipalun for Guhagar which meet on one route after 3-5 km drive) – Pat Panhale village – Guhagar.

Travelers for this trip were me-wife Renuka, Friends Sanat, Himanshu-Ketki, Abhijit-Manasi, Vishal-Aarya with their 2 year old son Ved, Ashutosh-Sanjana with their son Aarush.


Day 1: 24th Dec 2015 – Pune - Guhagar (Total Distance traveled: 285 km):
               We woke up early morning and left home at 6 AM. We wanted to avoid highway traffic and enjoy the morning breeze. We had our first break at Wai phata. Road condition till Guhagar was good except some small patches in Kumbharali ghat. Due to less traffic and smooth road condition, we reached at Chiplun by lunch time. Considering 2 children and group of 11 people, we took few breaks. We had lovely sea food lunch at Chiplun’s famous restaurant Abhishek. Food was excellent in taste, definitely not to miss for sea food lovers. From this point, we proceeded towards Guhagar. 

Abhishek Hotel, Chipalun
Abhishek Hotel, Chipalun

               We had booked our homestay for 3 nights at Mr. Damle. 2 years back, we had stayed here. As we reached by 4 PM, soon we moved into our room. We spent some time in the backyard where there were lots of coconut tree plantations and which in Marathi is called a “wadi”. Cool breeze, roaring sound of sea waves made us feel fresh. 

Damale's Wadi

               We headed straight to the beach in the evening. Surprisingly, even at 5.30 p.m., there were hardly any visitors. Guhagar beach is one of the cleanest and less polluted beaches in Maharashtra. This beach is assumed to be very safe. The beach slope was gentle and sea water was clean enough to see the sea bed. This beach is much better than any other famous beach from Konkan area. Unfortunately we didn’t get much time to witness sun set. We walked barefoot on the soft sandy beach and then played some games. It was a perfect evening for us.
Sunset time at Guhagar
Sunset at Guhagar
Sunset at Guhagar

We had veg meal dinner at Mr. Ravindra Damle’s place. Day 1 was ended with a late night chatting with friends.

  • Car Petrol: INR 3600/- (Appox. 52 Lit)
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 80/- one way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi-Satara): INR 55/- one way entry
  • Breakfast: INR 80/- per person (Wada Pav, tea/coffee and Misal)
  • Lunch at Abhishek, Chipalun: INR 2800/- for 9 people (Chiken meal 300/-, Surmai wadi Thali 350/-, Prawn wadi Thali 300/-, Rice, Dal and cold drinks)
  • Tea/Coffee: INR 10/- to INR 20/-
  • Dinner at Damale’s place: INR 120/- per person (Unlimited veg meal) 
Day 2: 25th Dec 2015 – Hedvi – Velaneshwar – Bhudhal (Total Distance traveled: around 100 km):
               We woke up in the morning by 8AM and went on beach for walk. We spent some time in the “wadi” and then returned for breakfast. We left Guhagar at around 10.30 AM. When we reached at Palshet village, we got stuck in traffic due minor accident between state transport bus and a SUV. After wasting an hour and a half in traffic, finally we reached at Hedvi.

Guhagar Beach

               Hedvi is a 30 min drive from Guhagar is also known for the beach and a temple. The temple houses the idol of lord Ganesh with ten hands. That is why he is known here as the Dashbhuja Ganesh. This temple dates back to age of Peshwa. Temple area was clean. Soon we went on Hedvi beach. Baman ghal is major attraction in Hedvi during high tide. There is unmarked rock patch route behind temple (Temple which is on right side of beach). It is unique landscape in its own way. This beautiful natural wonder is a gorge in the black rock patch and is around 20 feet deep, 35 feet long and 1-2 feet wide in dimensions. During the high tide, the sea water gushes in and splashes around. We went there during low tide so missed the water splash. I have seen huge water splashes around 3 years back and believe me, it’s fun to watch this wonder.

Hedvi Temple
Deepmal from Shiva temple at Velneshwar
Deepmal from Shiva temple at Velneshwar

We moved ahead for our next destination, Velneshwar. When we reached at Velneshwar, we were hungry. This small village has a beautiful temple of Lord Shiva and a beach at its backyard. We ordered lunch at Mr. Gokhale place where they arranged a delicious veg meal in 45 minutes. After lunch, we went to Shiv temple. The Velneshwar temple is one that gives a feel of the old houses with the sloping roofs. The temple is illuminated during the Mahashivratri festival with large crowd visiting the temple.
The temple has coconut trees at the backside, which joins to the beach directly. The sacred Nandi (bull of Shiva) is at the entrance of the temple along with the lamp post structures (Deepmal).

               After visiting the temple we went on the beach. This beach is not clean and not maintained properly. There are 2 restaurants on the beach which serve snacks, veg and non-veg meal. It was 4 PM in the clock and our group split into two. One went to Guhagar to enjoy the beach with kids and others (Me-Renuka, Himanshu-Ketki and Vishal) to explore an untouched beach name Budhal.

Velneshwar Beach
Velneshwar Beach


Drive till Adur phata and take right if you’re travelling from Guhagar else left if travelling from Velneshwar. Budhal is small fishermen’s village with few typical konkani houses. This place is almost untouched, unnoticed beach near Guhagar. There is no direct road to beach; you need to cross local fisherman's houses to reach there. You won't get any facility for accommodation or food in Bhudal. It is the best location to view sunset and aerial view of Budhal beach. We enjoyed sunset and left this beautiful place.

Bidhal Village and beach
Budhal Village and beach

Sunset from Budhal
Sunset from Budhal

Time to return home...At Budhal
Time to return home...At Budhal
              We had tasty dinner with Modak prepared by Damle family. After dinner, we visited Guhagar beach for campfire and to lit sky lanterns. It was perfect way to finish our hectic day.

Sky Lantern

  • Breakfast at Damale's House: INR 50/- per person (Upama and tea/Coffee)
  • Veg Lunch at Velneshwar: INR 100/- per person
  • Modak at Damale's house: INR 14/- per pice
  • Dinner at Damle's house: INR 70/- (Dal khichadi and papad)

Day 3: 26th Dec 2015 – Guhagar - Kolthare:
              Today we decided to spend time in Guhagar and cover nearby places. In the morning, we went on beach for walk and to enjoy water waves. It was cold morning and cool breeze to make you feel fresh. After some photo shoot, we came back for breakfast. We left Guhagar at 10 AM.
            Our first destination was Anjanwel lighthouse. Lighthouse is open at 3PM for public till 5pM in the evening. We missed lighthouse, however I had seen it twice in my previous visits. There is a beautiful place near the light house where you can enjoy an amazing coastal view. Take a right just 10-15 m before the main entrance of the light house and walk down a small sloppy road, you will reach a fantastic spot that is nothing but a tip of the hill and it offers breathtaking views of sea and a high rock face entering the ocean. The tip is having a strong concrete bastion so it is very safe. We saw couple of dolphins from this point.

Our group...Manasi-Abhijit missing in Photo

Dolphins from Lighthouse point

               Our next destination was Gopalgad fort. It was built for the protection of Dabhol an ancient port city which also finds its mention by the famous geographer from ancient Greece Ptolemy. This fort is believed to be built at the start of 16th Century by the Siddi. It was captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1660. In 1699, it was captured by Khairatkhan who was a Siddi ruler who ruled from Murud Janjira. Tulaji Angre then won this fort in 1744 and then later lost it to Peshwa in 1755. What remains today is only the ruins of this huge fort that spans 7 acres of land. Some cannon balls can be found in the fort. There is a private Mango orchard in the fort and due to ownership issues the entrance to fort was blocked. Now it is opened by owner. Food is also available inside fort but you have to place an order in advance or order a meal and visit fort till your snacks/meal is ready. 

Gopalgad fort wall
Gopalgad fort wall

Water trench at Gopalgad
Water trench at Gopalgad

               As we wanted to visit Kolthare beach which is on other side of creek, we joined the queue for jetty. Jetty route is known as Dhabol-Dhopave jetty. The Vasishthi River meets the sea here at Dabhol and there is a Jetty service available to cross the creek. It is the shortest way to reach Dapoli from Guhagar. A single jetty runs from 6 am to 10 pm at a frequency of 45 mins.

Dhabol-Dhopave Jetty
Dhabol-Dhopave Jetty

                Next destination was village Kolthare. It is a very small village and not used to for any tourist. There is 1 resort in the village name “Garva beach resort”. Their house was typically Konkani style house with lot of greenery and with huge farms of different trees (Wadi in Marathi) like Coconuts, Alphonso, jackfruit and many more. They have built few rooms very close to beach in Wadi. We ordered veg and sea food meal. It was my second visit and now this place is totally changed into commercial. Somehow they have lost the quality and charm which I experienced 2 years back.
               Kolthare beach is very small beach which gives you a feel like an own private beach. White sand all over the beach and it was very neat and clean. Water was too clear that we were unable to stop ourselves from going into the water. We liked this place and it is one of the cleanest beach in Konkan. Overall atmosphere of resort and beach really refreshed us.

Kolthare beach
Kolthare beach

After Lunch, we left for our next destination i.e. Chandika Devi temple near Dabhol. It is believed to be from the Pandav era. The idol of Goddess Chandika here, believed to be have formed naturally on its own (Swayambhu) and the temple is underground in a natural cave. To reach the deity, you have to pass through a low darkened passage. No light is allowed inside except that of oil lamps. There is a live spring of fresh water nearby which has water all around the year. This temple is very ancient and used to be frequently visited by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja. Photography was not allowed inside the cave.

Chandika Mata Devi temple
Chandika Mata Devi temple

We had planned to return Guhagar for sunset but we were running behind our schedule. We witness beautiful sunset from our jetty ride.
Sunset from Jetty

Sunset from Dhabol-Dhopave jetty
Sunset from Dhabol-Dhopave jetty
  • Breakfast: INR 40/- (Thalipith and tea/coffee)
  • Jetty ride for car: INR 90/- per car with driver
  • Jetty ride: INR 10/- per person
  • Lunch at Garava resort: INR 200 for fish meal + INR 100 for fry pic in Thali
  • Veg Lunch at Garava resort: INR 140/-
  • Jetty ride for car: INR 90/- per car with driver
  • Jetty ride: INR 10/- per person
  • Dinner at Damale's House: INR 120/- per person

Day 4: 27th Dec 2015 – Guhagar – Pune (Total Distance traveled: around 275 km):
               Early morning we went on beach for a walk and swimming. Clear weather and cool morning breeze from the sea made us feel fresh. We spend a lot time on beach and then came for breakfast. We left Guhagar by 10.30 AM.

iPhone photography....

               Guhagar is also famous for temples. We didn’t time to visit all. We went in Durga temple of Guhagar. There is temple pillar at the entrance of temple. Few hundreds year ago, temple was located in place of pillar. But to avoid attacks from pirates, it was moved new location where it is situated now. The temple premise is very clean and there is a medium sized man made pond next to the temple. Another temple in Guhagar is of lord Ganesh named Ufarata Ganapati temple. Lord Ganesh idol is facing the seashore i.e. towards west. Normally it should face in east direction. And hence name Ufarata (reversed) Ganpati. Vyadeshwar temple of Lord Shiva is just near the S.T. Depot, right in the middle of the bazaar. It is the Kuladaivat of a lot of Kokanastha Chitpavan Brahmins and major attraction/holy place from Guhagar.

Durga Devi temple

We decided to visit the Ancient Keshavraj temples from Dapoli during our return journey to Pune. We crossed Dabhol creek and reached to Dapoli for lunch. After lunch we reached at Ancient Keshavraj temples. The Keshavraj temple is in the midst of scenic hills. Way to Keshavraj is a small trail passing through coconut, betel nut, Mango, Jackfruit, White Jambu fruit (Jam in Marathi) and cashew trees. Keshavraj Temple is built by Pandavas meaning that it has its origin more than 1000 years ago. Temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and its main attraction is the Goumukh from where water flows throughout the year. Origin of the fresh water is from a tree trunk. Meal is available in the village along with homemade products.

Trail to Keshavraj

Keshavraj Temple

At Keshavraj

               We left Dapoli by 4 PM. We decided to come via Mahabaleshwar. Main intention was to have dinner at Mapro garden. We reached Mapro garden by 8.30 PM. It was peak winter time and we enjoyed tasty pizza. After dinner, we came home safely by 11.30 PM.
Trip ends with Mapro's Ice cream

  • Damale's Stay chargers: INR 200/- per person per day
  • Breakfast: INR 40/- per person (Poha + tea/coffee)
  • Jetty ride for car: INR 90/- per car with driver
  • Jetty ride: INR 10/- per person
  • Lunch at Dapoli: INR 120/- per person
  • Dinner at Mapro: approx INR 400/- (pizza and strawberry ice cream with cream) 
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 80/- one way entry

Contact numbers for your reference:
  • Homestay at Ravindra Damle: - (02359) 240042, 9420475602.
  • Homestay at Jog: - (02359) 240875.
  • Atithi Niwas Homestay by Yogesh khare: -9273650764, 9423802208.
  • Sagar lodge: - (02359) 240347, 9420152272 (located in market area)
  • Hotel Vainateya: - (02359) 240515, 9420722905. (close to Bus Vyadeshwar temple)
  • Gokhale Family (for stay and meal), Velneshwar:- (02359) 243307, 9421143322
  • Keshavraj pratishtan:- (02357) 234895, 9028414848
  • Ravi Dabake, Keshavraj:- (02358) 234895, (02357) 688448, 9421232244 (For stay and Home products)

Group on trip

Sand art by Abhijit joshi

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni