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Karnala Bird Sanctuary (Raigad)

Karnala near Panvel is a sanctuary dedicated to birds. It is the third sanctuary near the city of Mumbai after Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Tungareshwar hills. Comparatively, it is a small sanctuary and covers an area of 12.11 sq. KM. It is on the Mumbai Goa highway and easily accessible by road.

Are you fed up of the urban chaos? Would you like a short break? How about a place where nature is at its best and the sounds that envelop you are only those of birds and the mild breeze sashaying through the trees? To be able to turn this into reality, all you have to do is take to the Mumbai-Goa highway where just 12 km from Panvel is the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Like Mumbai, this place never sleeps, but with a difference. Here, the activity is those of winged beauties during the day and of nocturnal creatures once the sun goes down. The sanctuary has the Karnala Fort at its center and the name has come about due to the presence of a bulging rock which looks like a funnel-shaped loudspeaker, this being called a ‘karn’ in Marathi.

A popular destination for amateur bird-watchers and ornithologists, the sanctuary is also visited by avid hikers while becoming a favourite for picnickers over the years, especially families from Mumbai and its surrounding regions. Karnala was declared a bird sanctuary in 1968 as the first one of its kind in Maharashtra by the state government in recognition of the remarkable efforts of Dr Salim Ali who pioneered the mission of bird preservation in the country. It now boasts of an extremely diverse flora and fauna with about 150 species of resident and 37 species of migratory birds that visit the sanctuary during the winter.

During its initial phase, the sanctuary covered an area of 4.45 sq km and in 2003 this was increased so that it now spreads across 12.11 sq km. With its avian population and variety changing as per the seasons, it is in the monsoon that the sanctuary truly comes alive when one finds here a vivid collection of such species as the Paradise Flycatcher, Magpie Robin and Malabar Whistling Thrushes – these being some of the most lyrical birds. During this time, the sanctuary turns a brilliant green, and dozens of little rivulets spring up and flow by. However, post monsoon too the sanctuary is as interesting and the best months to visit it are from October to February.

The sanctuary has been designed very strategically so that it caters to all kinds of visitors – as you enter the sanctuary’s main gate, you come across a conservation center that makes a note of all your plastic belongings. You have to pay a deposit which is returned at the time of exit but only upon producing all the plastic belongings that you had carried inside. This is one of the finest ways to ensure that the sanctuary remains clean and to deter visitors from littering the place with plastic bottles, cups, bags and anything that is non degradable.

There are some interesting trails that the sanctuary offers with the Hariyal Nature Trail being the easiest. This is only a kilometer long but offers a great bird-sighting experience. For those looking for a longer walk, the Mortaka Trail, which covers a length of 6 km through the sanctuary is ideal. There is also an abundance of colourful butterflies darting through the air.

For the trekkers the Karnala Fort Trail is the best and there are many who have been doing this trek during the weekends for the past 20 years or so.

Distance from Mumbai: 52 kms

 

Districts/Region

Raigad district, Maharashtra, India.Raigad district, Maharashtra, India.

History

This Sanctuary was established in 1968 and initially covered an area of 4.45 sq. KM. In 2003, it was expanded to cover the additional green zone and now we have approx. 12 sq. KM. dedicated to birds. It also houses the fort of Karnala, which makes it a favourite destination for bird watchers and trekkers from Mumbai and Pune. Karnala is within 50 KM from Mumbai and is considered a very good family picnic spot. Karnala offers a variety to bird watchers in different seasons. At the onset of rains, one can see the paradise flycatcher with its fairy-like white streamers, the Shama or the Magpie robin and the Malabar whistling thrush which are some of the most melodious avian songsters.
The winter is the season of migrants. The visitors here include a variety of birds such as the blackbird, the blue-headed rock-thrush, the bluethroat, the red-breasted flycatcher, the ashy minivet, the black-headed Cuckoo-shrike and a host of others.
 

Geography

Karnala is in Panvel district. It is very close to Mumbai-Pune Express highway and on the Mumbai-Goa highway. 

Weather/Climate

The prominent weather in the region is rainfall, the Konkan belt experiences High Rainfall (ranges around 2500 mm to 4500 mm), and the climate remains Humid and warm. The temperature reaches up to 30 degrees Celsius during this season.
Summers are hot and humid, and the temperature touches 40 degrees Celsius.
Winters have a comparatively milder climate (around 28 degrees Celsius), and the weather remains Cool and Dry.

Things to do

Karnala is known for trekking, bird watching and good family picnics within a one day schedule.  Karnala is a paradise for bird watchers. One can also visit the Nature Interpretation Centre and trek down to the famous Karnala Fort located amidst sanctuary. Plenty of resorts with amusement activities are available in this zone, which can be explored for some fun and adventure.

Nearest tourist places

Nearby places to visit Karnala sanctuary
1. Kalavantin Durg (27 KM).
2. Irshalgad Fort (33 KM)
3. Matheran (60 KM)
4. Prabalgad Fort (27 KM)

Special food speciality and hotel

There are no restaurants inside the Karnala Sanctuary, however, being on the national highway many restaurants and dhabas are available to choose from. The restaurants are known for serving seafood and local Agri styled food. These restaurants also serve other cuisines including Chinese, South Indian, North Indian etc. 

Accommodation facilities nearby & Hotel/ Hospital/Post Office/Police station

Karnala is surrounded by facilities for accommodation like lodges, hotels and resorts, etc. It also has a good primary health clinic and hospitalization services in proximity. Panvel Police station is the nearest police station.

Visiting Rule and Time, Best month to visit

The forest department rules must be followed as this is a sanctuary. Visitors are not allowed to linger after sunset. September to March is the best season to visit. The forest department rules must be followed as this is a sanctuary. Visitors are not allowed to linger after sunset. September to March is the best season to visit. 

Language spoken in area 

English, Hindi, Marathi .