Going back in times to around 1300 CE, this area was under the rule of the Gond tribal kings. King Dalpatshah and his visionary queen Durgavati saw the importance of agriculture for supporting the livelihood of the local communities. However, they realised that they couldn’t depend on the erratic rain fall alone for irrigation. They thus started the process of building innumerable water bodies and lakes all around. What we see today is a Gondia district that can easily be called the lake district of India. All these lakes today are excellent habitats for migratory and resident water birds. Many also support diverse animal life too. In fact the lakes of Gondia district are also the home to a strong population of the elegant saras crane, the largest member of the crane family.
Navegaon lake is one such example of a water body that has witnessed long history of Gond tribal rule and eventual British and post independence India. Large number of birds have always been flocking to this lake ever since. Today, this lake is a part of the National Park and Tiger Reserve, supporting not only the avian population – but also a rich wildlife from the adjoining forest. Tigers, leopards, sloth bears, gaurs and other beautiful people reside in this Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous forest.
Staying in the lake side Sanjay Kutir, with rooms that are perched as a treetop, you are actually a part of the dense forest – far from the maddening crowds. You could walk to the Youth Hostel a couple of kms. away from here watching the birds by the lakeside or even a mammal that has come to quench its thirst at the lake. At night as you drive, you can spot hundreds of shining eyes of the spotted deer staring at you. It will become one of the most memorable sights for you.
Alternatively, you could go for a Safari drive into the forested routes in the National Park. Many people make the mistake of entering the forest with a one point agenda of sighting a tiger or a leopard. While these undoubtedly are glamorous animals, ignoring other beautiful people of the jungle and coming out of the forest without a tiger or leopard sighting - would mean “Kuch Nahi Dekha”. There can be no bigger lie than that. Rich animal diversity of Navegaon will surely enthral any Nature Lover. Also the regular alarmed calls of spotted deer, sambar deer, langurs and peacocks are a good indication of predator movement. Often you will see droppings of these predators or will be able to smell the territory marked areas. Yet sometimes, if your timing and luck assist you, you might just be able to spot one of the many predators on the prowl.
Photographing butterflies and birds can be just as rewarding. Navegaon incidentally is able to attract over 50% of all the birds that can be spotted in Maharashtra. Butterfly diversity too is rich. So if you love to shoot with the camera, you should head to Navegaon.
Important instructions for tourists:
You might have enjoyed the sights and sounds of Navegaon. But in your best interests, you must only return home with the famed oranges, mangoes and orangeburfis of Vidarbha. You could also try the khoya jilebi and other mouth watering delicacies at Haldiram outlets.
October 1 - January 31 -- 7 am to 6 pm.
February 1 - June 15 -- 7 am to 7 pm.
June 16 - September 30 –
MTDC at Navegaon-bandh, Forest Development Corporation’s campsites.
Summer temperatures can sometimes cross 400C. In winter, Navegaon is cool. Be prepared with warm clothes.
The best time to visit is during October to May – Best time for bird watching : November to March.