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Koyana Dam (Mahabaleshwar)

With the rugged beauty of the Western Ghats reflected in an endless pool of shimmering waters, Koyna is a landscape photographer’s dream come true. Situated in the Satara district, the backwaters of Koyna form the massive Shivasagar reservoir.

At just 120 kilometers from Pune on the Pune-Bangalore road, Koyna, the largest dam in Maharashtra, was considered a feat of engineering when it was completed in 1962. Today, it provides a large amount of irrigation water and also generates electricity by damming the river Koyna. The catchment area around the Shivasagar reservoir was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1985, and is today known as the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. The 50-kilometer long Shivasagar and its environs are home to a variety of wildlife like sloth bears, leopards, dhols, barking deer, spotted deer, giant squirrels, and even tigers!

In May 2007, the entire Koyna sanctuary along with the Chandoli Wildlife Reserve to the south of the reservoir, were declared part of Project Tiger by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Chandoli lies between the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary. One of the best ways to explore this beautiful lake is by boat. This will allow you to take in the vast expanse of waters with the forested hills all around. If you are in luck, you might even spot some wildlife. The boat ride starts from a point near Nehru Park which is a landscaped garden near the Koyna Dam. The park gives a bird’s eye view of the dam and its backwaters.

If you would like to explore the area around Koyna further, the waterfalls at Navja and Ozarde are not very far away. Tall and imposing, the milky white streams of water thunder down an imposing height. The Navja waterfall is closer to Koyna, near the Navja village. Ozarde is a bit further ahead, 3 kilometers from Navja and about 10 kilometers from Koyna. The Ozarde waterfall has two approaches; one can either walk right up to the base of the waterfall with a little trek or reach a vantage point on the opposite hill through a fleet of 100 odd steps and enjoy the full glory of the waterfall.

Driving around Koyna, the backwaters keep you company on one side, while the forests, hills and waterfalls call for your attention on the other. In certain parts, entry is restricted as it forms the core area of the sanctuary, especially after Ozarde. Koyna has some known resorts, including the Koyna Lake Resort of MTDC, but an advance booking is mandatory. Monsoons are the best time to witness the glory of Koyna Nagar. Once you are there, don’t forget to taste Tambda Rassa (Red Curry), a spicy local cuisine, made for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Distance from Mumbai: 340 Kms