Saturday, 20 January 2018

Pune’s Bird Paradise - Bhigwan, Diksal bird watching in 2018

I visit Bhigwan at least once a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception to my activity. I and Renuka decided to visit this place January 2018. Every year, I visit Diksal village from Bhigwan. I heard a lot about Kumbhargaon village which is developed as a bird sanctuary and professional people to handle all type of tourists. Due to lack of time, I decided to Kumbhargaon on this trip and then to Diksal some other day.

The plan was to spend 4-5 hours in Bhigwan (the main location is known as Diksal village) and come back home by late afternoon. My friends Himanshu, Ameya, Vishal, Sanat-Nirupa, and Ashutosh joined us.

Greater Flamingo

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 wetland migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.

               To reach Diksal village (near Bhigwan), the easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take a left at Bhigwan square on the highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow coloured) on that T junction on the left-hand side of the road.

GPS Location for Kumbhargaon: 18.263426, 74.803876
GPS Location for Diksal: 18.295129, 74.806933

Ready for take-off...Greater Flamingo

Jan 2018: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
             As we had to cover around 105-110km so we decided to leave Pune before 5:30 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. Road condition of the highway was excellent. Due to the wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We reached Kumbhargaon after having breakfast at restaurant Anapurna. We have informed Datta Nagare for a boat ride. Soon we took a boat ride. Electric pole-wire was occupied by Whiskered Tern.
             We travelled towards Diksal village as all
Flamingos and other birds were landed there. While going there, I got few flight photos. Soon we approached towards Flamingo. Every year I visit Diksal and my expectation was to see birding activity near Kumbhargaon. Got to know that most of the time, boats from Kumbhargaon visit Diksal for Flamingos.

Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo

           We spend around 1 hours watching their activity without disturbing them. By any chance, if they noticed us, they were just moving their position. A couple of times they flew away but again settled down close to our boat.Flamingo was accompanied by Seagulls, Gery Heron and Asian open billed stork.
            Grey heron is from Heron family and native throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Wetland bird can be seen at Lake, river, pond and sometimes on the sea coast. The grey heron is large (meter tall) is the size and greyish white body with grey wings with black feathers on the flanks. They have White colour head and neck with Black neck strip and black crest.

Gery Heron

Gery Heron flight

               Greater Flamingo is the largest species of flamingo. It is found in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East and southern Europe. Average Life of Flamingo is 60 years. Greater Flamingos are pinkish white but Dark pink feathers with black feathers are covered underwings. You can see beautiful Display of pink colour during their Flight. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds and blue-green algae. Greater Flamingo can be seen in Bhigwan but Lesser Flamingo observed rarely here.
             Asian Openbill is from Stork family. This Stork is found in the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia. It is greyish white with glossy black wings and tail. Their short legs are pinkish grey and reddish in colour before breeding time. Stork has a gap between a bill which uses in the handling of snails and prey.

Asian Open Billed Stork.

              We left that place to spot other birds. We went to another side of catchment area by boat. We saw a huge group of the Painted Stork. We spend an hour and watched their morning activity, sun basking etc. Besides Flamingo, we spotted Woolly Necked Stork, Coot, ibis, bar-headed goose's, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck, northern pintail and much more.
You can spot Glossy ibis, black head ibis and red napes ibis in the Bhigwan area. Ibis family is widely spread across Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. All ibis have a long curved-down bill. Glossy ibis has a reddish brown body with glossy bottle-green wings. As the name suggests, black-headed ibis has black coloured head, neck and legs whereas white colour body. Red napes ibis is also known as Indian black Ibis or black ibis. It is large in size as compare to other ibises with the glossy dark black colour body. It has a crimson red colour patch on head.

Black-headed ibis

             Ruddy shelduck in India commonly known as Brahminy Duck. Brahminy is colour shed and word is not related to any religion/Caste. The bird belongs to Anatidae family (a family which consist of Ducks, geese and Swans). It has a beautiful orange-brown body with white, black, glossy green colour on Wings. This is migratory bird and travel to India during winter for breeding. This bird mostly found in pair or pair groups as they believe in pair bonding. It has loud honking call. Duck prefer shallow water area or found on Bank of Water bodies or inland body of water. They can fly on high altitudes along with Bar-headed Goose.

Ruddy Shelduck
            Northern shoveler is also known as Shoveler duck. It is one of the commonly found duck in Europe and Asia (Winter time). Male has a dark green head, white breast and orange-Brown body. You can see multiple colours on wings such as white, glossy green, blue and brown. Female is in drab mottled brown colour. These ducks swim in a large group. Shoveler prefers to nest in a grassy area near an open freshwater body.

Northern Shoveler

              We saw around 5-6 Bar Headed Goose in Flight.  Saw a couple of Brahmin Duck pairs busy with their breakfast and some of them were resting. We kept a safe distance and I clicked a lot of Photos. We enjoyed for half an hour observing their actions. An astonishing fact about Bar Headed Goose is that they are one of the world's highest flying birds; they migrate over Himalayas (flying higher than 21000 ft.) to spend the winter in parts of India.

Bar Headed Goose

Below are snaps were taken during my various visits to Bhigwan

Ruddy Shelduck

I'm Keeping watch on you...!!!
              Common spoonbill is also known as Eurasian spoonbill and it belongs to Spoonbill family. The bird is white in colour with a white crest. Bill is of Black colour and a yellow spot at the end of the bill. The shape of Bill is similar to spoon shape.

Spoon Bill

              The painted stork is from the stork family.  Their distinctive pink tertial feathers give them their name. This large stork has a heavy yellow beak with a down-curved tip. The head is bare and orange or reddish in colour. There is a distinctive black breast band with white scaly markings. Males and females appear alike but the males of a pair are usually larger than the female. The juveniles are a brownish plumage in colour.

Wolly necked StorkPainteded Stork
              Purple moorhen is known as western swamphen. It is a Chicken sized bird with bright purple colour and red Bill. This is native Indian Bird and can be seen on freshwater bodies across India.

Purple Moorhen

             Woolly Necked Stork belongs to Stork family. The body is in deep crimson or wine red colour with a black colour skull cap. The neck is in white colour with a soft feather which gives the name as Woolly Necked Stork. It is also called as White-necked Stork. It is freshwater wetland bird found in Asia and Africa.

Deep discussion??? Wolly necked Stork

Painted Stork

Northern Shoveler

Time to leave...

Northern Shoveler

  • 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)
  • Dinner at hotel Kanchan: INR 440/- for couple

Contact number:
  • Bharat (Boatman from Diksal): 9766292989.
  • Datta Nagare (Boatman from Kumbhargaon ): 8087767691.

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

Pritesh Kulkarni 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Offbeat Konkan: Adgaon - Velas Aagar

We wanted to spend yearend away from City life but not at the crowded location. We both are doing regular cycling in the city so though came to mind like why not cycling along with a couple of offbeat locations. We planned 3 days trip to Konkan. we stayed at Roha which is our friend's hometown.
traveler for this trip was I and Wife Renuka.


About Roha and nearby places
              Roha is the small city from Raigad district and starting station of Konkan Railway. It is located close to Mumbai Goa national highway. Roha is on the bank of Kundalika river which is a famous spot for river rafting near Pune/Mumbai.
Famous Konkan beaches like Alibag, Nagaon, Kashid, Murud, and Diveagar are close to Roha city. Roha can be a central location for trekkers as forts like Janjira, Revdanda, Korlai, Avachitgad, Ghosalgad, Birwadi fort are close to the city. Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary is few km away from Roha.
We decided to visit a couple of forts and offbeat beaches namely Adgaon and Velas Aagar.

To reach Roha, the route is Pune – Join Mulshi road from Chandani Chowk – Tamhini ghat – Kolad (Do not take a left turn of Nijampur MIDC area) – At Kolad, join highway and take left for Roha – Roha.

30 December 2017: Pune - Roha
              Our original plan was to leave Pune on 29 Dec Friday but due to personal priority, we left on 30 December by 10 AM. Our cycling plan was to explore north side on day 1 and south side of Roha on day 2. We altered it and planned to do cycling until Diveagar. We chose the route via Tahmini – Kolad. Road condition in Tamhini was horrible. We had our lunch in Viraj hotel at Mulashi village. After 4 hours of journey, we reached Roha. Our friend's parents stay in Roha and we opt to stay at their place.
              After having a coffee break, we left Roha for fort/beach visit. 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.

Revdanda beach and Fort wall... Photo clicked by me in the year 2016

              Revdanda Fort was built in the year 1528 by Portuguese whereas prior to that, they built a factory in the year 1516. Later they built a wall for the factory and the construction of the 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 consists 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 the land inside the fort is the private property of villagers hence it became difficult to explore the entire fort. Near the watch tower, you can see 4-5 cannons. On the right side of the 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 to the beach.

Saatkhani Tower

              We spent some time on the beach and then witnessed the beautiful sunset effect as Sunset was behind Korlai Fort. 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 sunset, we had some snacks on the beach. Friend's Parents joined us and we had a good time. We came to Roha for dinner and had rest.

Sunset from Revdanda Beach

GPS Locations:

  • Roha: 18.436718, 73.122674
  • Revdanda Fort: 18.546939, 72.924907

  • Car petrol: INR 2000/-
  • Lunch at Viraj, Mulashi: INR 320/- (M Papad, Veg dish, Naans, Line soda)
  • Coffee: INR 50/- for 2

31 December 2017: Roha - Murud - Adgaon - Velas agar - Roha
              We woke up by 5 AM and left Roha at 6 AM. As road condition to Murud via Kashid was not in good position hence we took the route as Roha - Tareghar - Tambadi - Gpalwat - Nagshet - Murud. We parked our car in Murud and took Cycle out of Cycle ride.
              Our cycling tour route was Murud - Dighi vai ferry - Adgaon beach - Velas Agar beach - Murud via ferry. I'm used to for such terrain for cycling whereas Renu did most of the cycling around Pune city. The entire route was full of ups and downs which required good stamina and focus. In few km of cycling, we climbed small ghat. After the small climb, we took a small break to enjoy the view of Janjira fort view. we have been to Janjira fort a few years back so we decided to skip the fort. Rajapuri is the village from where you can visit fort via small sailboat ride.

               The fort was originally built in 15th century on a smaller scale by a local Maratha-Fisherman Chieftain- Ram Patil to protect his people from pirates/ thieves and was known as “Medhekot". Siddi commanders Pir Khan, who came with three ships armed with necessary weapons and soldiers and captured the fort. Pir Khan was succeeded by Burhan Khan, who demolished the original fort and built an impregnable much bigger, 22 acre, stone fort sometime in between 1567 and 1571. The fort was called 'JazeereMahroob Jazeera ' which in Arabic means an Island. Siddi was not won by any war but by breaking trust and offering liquor to Ram Patil. Latter on Siddi king forcefully converted Ram Patil to Islamic and when he opposed then he killed by Siddi. Latter many local Koli and Hindu’s was killed who opposed their establishment. Shivaji’s all attempts to capture Janjira fort failed due to one reason or the other.  When Sambhaji also failed, he built another island fort, known as Kansa or Padmadurg, just 9kms north of Janjira. You can see rocky bridge during low tide at Rajpuri which was an unsuccessful but great attempt by Sambhaji. The Janjira state came to an end after 1947.

Janjira Fort view from Top

              The fortification was amazing and very strongly builds to protect against the enemy. Fort has 19 rounded bastions. Three story bastions were beautifully constructed. History says that there was 572 cannon to protect the fort. You can see India’s 3rd largest cannon named Kalal-Bangadi. Other highlights from the fort are 6 stories place (now only 3 floors are left), Balekila, Queen Lake, quarters, mosque etc.The main entrance of Janjira Fort is adorned with a stone carving, which illustrates six elephants trapped by a single tiger. This carving is believed to be a symbol of the bravery of the Siddi rulers.

We kept paddling till Agardanda. you can visit Khokari Tombs after Rajapuri. There are 3 stone Tombs (around 500 years old) belongs to the early ruler of Janjira. Largest Tomb is of Siddi Surul Khan who was chief of Janjira from 1707 to 1734. Other two smaller tombs are of Sidi Kasim, commonly known as Yakut Khan and his brother Khairiyat Khan who was in command of Janjira. Tombs are built in the Indo-Saracenic style and restored by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Khokari Tombs

              We put our cycles on the ferry and cross the creek. we were hungry and local suggested us to have Tasty Samosa / Vada pav at Dighi Jetty. I forgot the name of the person but he runs a small shop and sells only these 2 Items. It was freshly fried and tasty. We took a right tern for Adgaon. This route consists of two steep climb ghats. I was pretty much comfortable and Renu did a great job (in spite of less cycling experience) with a couple of pit stops. Sun was dominating the sky whereas cool breeze from sea line trying to make us feel fresh on cycle. The entire route is parallel to the coast. When we took a small break on the top of Ghat, few locals from nearby village gather around us. They offer us tea/coffee/snacks (Without expecting any money) when they got to know we are exploring a nearby area of Cycles. We faced few questions typically asked any long distance cyclist during tours like a geared cycle?how long you ride?Speed? tires are tubeless? is it costly etc? After a small break, we continued our journey and crossed the second Ghat as well.

We at Adgaon beach

Adgaon Beach

             we reached our first beach destination, Adgaon beach. It is a small curved beach. It is not popular in tourist hence quite clan and claim place. We took our cycles on the beach and spend more than an hour. On the north end, you can see some interesting rock cuts made by Sea waves during high tides. There is a small beach (which is part of Adgaon beach) besides Adgaon but it is mainly used to park fishing boats. We saw a family of Dolphins very close to sea shore which was an unexpected bonus.

Adgaon Beach
Adgaon Beach

Adgaon Beach
Adgaon Beach

               We were hungry and ask locals for meal arrangements. We had a homemade meal which was average in taste. We left Adgaon for further journey. Our next destination was Velas Aagar (Do not confuse with Velas from Dapoli area). The road was flat and parallel to the coastal line. We reached Velas Aagar which was another less visited beach. Beach was clean with some rock formations on the beach. There is small creek at the end of the beach and you can see the famous Diveagar beach on the other side of Creek. We had a small break at the beach before starting the further journey.

Velas Aagar Beach
Velas Aagar Beach

             Diveagar beach was heavily crowded (we spotted it from Velas Aagar) hence we decided to skip Diveagar and start return journey. For the return journey, we came from Diveagar-Dighi route which was quite flat as compare to Adgaon side road. We reached Dighi before 2.30 PM.

             We got to know that ferry was shut down due to low tide and next ferry is at 5 PM. We settle down at jetty and after some time they arranged small ferry to transport few bikes and people. As we were on cycle, they got preference to board the small ferry. We crossed the creek and continued out cycling till Murud.
            Before leaving in the morning, we requested Aana Gupte (we parked our car on his property with permission) for bath arrangement after cycle ride. After getting fresh, we spend time on the Murud beach which was quite crowded considering year-end evening.
             We witness 2017s last Sunset from Murud beach. We mounted our cycles on the car rack and left for Roha. For the return journey, we choose Nandgaon - Kashid - Roha route. We visited Ganesh temple from Nandgaon which is known as Sidhi Vinayak Ganesh temple. This temple has been in existence since 1036 AD. Myth has it that panchang (Hindu Calendar) is blessed by this Ganesha.

Last Sunset of the Year 2017...Murud Beach

We reached in Roha for dinner and welcomed the year 2018.

Welcome, 2018...!!!

GPS Location:
  • Murud Beach: 18.326509, 72.955985
  • Khokari Tombs: 18.301574, 72.981449
  • Adgaon Beach: 18.223062, 72.947294
  • Velas Aagar: 18.203831, 72.972366
  • Dighi Jetty: 18.263058, 72.973724
  • Sidhi Vinayak temple, Nandgaon: 18.387098, 72.928926

  • Murud Parking: INR 40/-
  • Ferry boat: INR 42/- for 2 person
  • Cycle by Boat: INR 22/- for 2 cycles
  • Vada pav n Samosa: INR 40/- (4 Items)
  • Lunch: INR 390/- (Veg thali @150, Fish thali @250 and 2 water bottles)
  • Coconut water: INR 50/-
  • Ferry boat: INR 42/- for 2 person
  • Cycle by Boat: INR 22/- for 2 cycles
  • Bath in Murud: INR 60/-
  • Chaat: INR 75/- (3 dishes)
  • Water bottle: INR 20/-
  • Jeera Soda: INR 30/-
  • Cake: INR 320/
  • Cold drink: INR 80/-

1st Jan 2018: Roha - Pali - Mahad - Pune
             We woke up a bit late and spend some time in Roha near Kundalika river bank. We left Rohan by 10 AM. We choose Pali - Khopoli - expressway route as Tahmini route was in horrible condition. Considering new year day, we decided to take a quick stop at Pali and Mahad for Lord Ganapati Darshan.
             Pali Ganapati temple is known by name as Ballaleshwar Ganapati. It is 8th Ganesh from Ashtavinayak (8 Ganapati temples) temples. We had Darshan and moved to next place. Our last destination from the trip was Mahad Ganapati temple. This is 7th Ganapati from Ashtavinayak and known by name Varadvinayak.

  • Pali parking: INR 30/-
  • Mahad Parking: INR 20/-
  • Expressway Toll: INR 138/-
  • Lunch on expressway: INR 385/-
For the return journey, we preferred Khopoli – Expressway road and reached Pune safely by 5 PM.

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


First 5 honoured Ganapati (Marathi: Manache Ganapati) of Pune

I have started writing small blogs on places to visit from Pune city. This Blog is to give a fair idea on Honoured Ganapati from Pune city.
Here is a small virtual trip to Pune’s First 5 honored Ganapati with some basic information.

             Ganesh Chaturthi was being celebrated as a public event in Pune since the times of Shivaji (1630–1680), the founder of the Maratha Empire. In 1893, Ganesh Festival on large public scale was started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak (first leader of the Indian Independence Movement) from Pune city. He transformed the household worshipping of Ganesha into a grand public event.
             The intention behind Ganesh festival was to bridge the gap between Brahmins and 'non-Brahmins' and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between all cast. Also, intention was to gather people sharing similar ideas and exchange thoughts to deal with the British ruler.

Kasaba Ganapati
Among the thousands of Lord Ganapati Pandals in Pune city, Kasaba Ganapati, Tambdi Jogeshwari, Guruji Talim, Tulshi bag and Keshariwada Ganapati are on top places as first five holds the honors of Pune city. Shrimant Dagadushet Halwai Ganapati is richest and famous Ganapati in Pune.

Photos of First 5 honored Ganapati clicked in the year 2015-2016.

1. First Ganpati of Honor in Pune - Kasaba Ganapati
              The Kasba Ganapati is the presiding deity (Gramadevata - Its Sanskrit term for the presiding deity or guardian deity in Hindu villages, towns, and cities. It is derived from the words grāma “village” and devatā “deity”) of Pune. The temple was commissioned by Jijabai, Mother of Shivaji Maharaj (founder of the Maratha Empire).

Established in the year 1893, Mandal is gracing the first place in immersion procession since 1894

Kasaba Ganapati

2. Second Ganpati of Honor in Pune - Tambadi Jogeshwari
              Second Ganpati of Honor in Pune. It is famous and is situated in the heart of the city. The idol of Lord Ganesh has its uniqueness. From last so many years they are using the idol of the same kind which has resemblance of elephants of Africa. In the eleven days of puja, various kinds of events take place which are of social interest and are organized by keeping in mind the same aim that Late Lokmanya Tilak was having in his mind.

Tambadi Jogeshwari

Tambadi Jogeshwari

3. Third Ganpati of Honor in Pune - Guruji Talim
              Third Ganpati of Honor in Pune. This Mandal was established in 1887 even before Late Lokmanya Tilak started this festival. It was established as a symbol of Hindu Muslim unity. First mandal who celebrated its centenary in Pune.

Guruji Talim

4. Fourth Ganpati of Honor in Pune – Tulashi Bag Ganapati
              Fourth Ganpati of Honor in Pune. This is the old and famous Ganesh mandal in Pune. This mandal is known for the size of the Ganesh idol. This is the first mandal to make a fiberglass idol of Ganpati. This Ganapati is located in Tulasi Bag area which is the heart of the city. This area is known as Pune oldest market built by Peshwa (the year 1700-1761)

Tulasi Bag Ganapati

5. Fifth Ganpati of Honor in Pune – Kesariwada Ganapati
             Late Lokmanya Tilak established this idol in the year 1893. It is located in Kesari wada (wada means palace/big house where many families can stay together) which is a house of of Lokmanya Tilak . This Mandal vows to take up social and cultural undercurrents of the society. Organizes shows of renowned artists and speeches of great personalities during the festival.

Kesari Wada Ganapati

Kesari Wada Ganapati

Other Famous Ganapati of Pune city

Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati
             This Ganapati is not in consideration in honor Ganapati of Pune but very popular in Maharashtra and is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year. This Ganapati temple trust holds the crown of the richest Ganapati of Pune city.

Dagadusheth Ganapati

Dagadusheth Ganapati

Akhil Mandai Ganapati Mandal
             This is one of the most important Ganesh Mandal in Pune. It has an idol of Lord Ganesha sitting on a swing with Goddess Sharada. It is located in biggest and oldest vegetable market in Pune City.

Akhil Mandai Ganapati

Pritesh Kulkarni