Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected site located in the Sahyadri mountain range (Western Ghats) in Maharashtra. Western Ghat is one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world. This sanctuary, established in 1985, is declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The sanctuary covers an area of around 423 square kilometres and is home to diverse flora and fauna.

Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary is also a part of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve and an important bird area (declared by birdlife international). It is named after koyna river that flows through this dense forest. In the middle of the Sanctuary stands the historic Vasota fort, constructed between 1178 and 1193. The fort was captured in 1655 and converted to a prison by the legendary Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The landscape of sanctuary is a mix of dense forests, grasslands, and water bodies, making it an ideal habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. It is home to more than 240 species of birds, 33 species of mammals, 120 species of butterflies, 400 medicinal plants and many more species. Some of the wildlife found here are Indian leopards, gaur, Indian wild dogs, barking deer, Indian python, four hornbill species, sloth bear, river terns, woodpeckers, etc. The Indian giant squirrel, which is a state animal of Maharashtra, is also found here.

This sanctuary offers a variety of activities for visitors such as jungle safaris, trekking and nature trails. Visitors can also stay in forest guest house and resorts located within the sanctuary to experience the wilderness and dive into nature.

One of the major attractions of koyna sanctuary is Koyna Dam, a part of koyna hydroelectric project. This dam is one of the largest dams in Maharashtra and a popular tourist place for boating, camping and enjoying nature.

However, this sanctuary is also facing several conservation challenges like human-wildlife conflict and habitat fragmentation. Increasing human activities in and around the forest such as tourism, development projects and agriculture pose a threat to this delicate ecosystem. Hence it is important to ensure responsible tourism and conservation efforts to preserve this pristine sanctuary.

Best time to visit: during the monsoon season to enjoy lush greenery and waterfalls; October to May: weather is pleasant and favourable for wildlife sightings.

Distance: Approx.150km from Pune; 30kms from Mabaleshwar

Nearby attractions- Tapola, Vasota fort, Kaas Plateau, Kanher Dam, Ekiv waterfall

  • forest