Any wildlife sanctuary, you assume, has to be a landscape of natural flora. But there is a sanctuary in Sangli district which is artificial in the sense that it has been man-made – the efforts of a freedom fighter and environment activist whose efforts over the years have made the Sagareshwar Sanctuary a delightful place to visit. And over the years, the increasing numbers of a wide variety of fauna has only added additional tourist value.
It is near the village Devrashtre that the Sagareshwar Sanctuary is located. An artificially cultivated forest without a perennial supply of water, it has been developed by D. M. Mohite, a well-known freedom fighter and ‘vrikshamitra’ (friend of trees), who started working on converting the landscape in 1975. He personally planted and nurtured many of the trees here. The sanctuary is now forested, but with grassy hill slopes. The forest is a mix of deciduous and southern thorn trees and protection from grazing and forest fires has resulted in good regeneration of the dry deciduous species. Some of the plants introduced here by the local forest department include Tamarind, Neem, Nilgiri, Acacia, Agave and Khair.
The sanctuary is a popular tourist destination and spread over an area of 10.87 square kilometers. And not only does it host 30-40 species of trees, it also has a wide variety of fauna, including antelope, hyena, wolf, fox, rabbit, wild cat, etc. You will also come across peacocks in huge numbers. A large number of insects, birds and reptiles such as pythons are also present. The peak tourism season is from August to February and one of the popular activities is to hike to the top of the hill in the sanctuary to get a fascinating view of the Krishna River flowing through fields of sugarcane and grapevines.
Sagareshwar is situated off the NH-4 i.e. Mumbai-Bengaluru Highway and is about 191 kilometers from Pune and 380 kilometers from Mumbai. It is 45 kilometers from Sangli and the other nearest city is Karad. On the Karad-Sangli route a small village called Takari. You can reach up to Takari by road or train. All mail, express and superfast trains stop at Sangli and Miraj railway stations. Local passenger trains and a few express trains stop at Kirloskarvadi and Takari and most people go to Sagareshwar by walking from Takari. You can also hire an autorickshaw.
Distance from Mumbai: 333 Kms