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Chundolli National Park (reference in Marathi Language) an 317.67 km² Indianmarker National Park, established in May 2004,
earlier a Wildlife Sanctuary declared in 1985, is located near the   Chandoli Dam between longitudes 73°40' E and 73°53' E and latitudes 17°03'N and 17°20'N near Sanglimarker in Western Maharashtramarker. It is located at the junction of  Sangli District, Kolhapur District, Satara Districtmarker and Ratnagiri Districtmarker. It lies between the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuarymarker and Radhanagri Wildlife Sanctuary and is part of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve.

History

The historical places of the park include the 17th century Prachitgad and Bhairavgad forts of the Maratha kings Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji Maharaj. Ruins of the Bhavani temples palatial buildings in Prachitigad and Kalavantin vihir depict the ancient glory of the Maratha Empire. Most of the protected area was used an open jail for the "prisoners of war" of the early Imperial Maratha Conquests during Shivaji Maharaj's rule. Sambhaji Maharaj used Prachitgad as an observation point and recreational place.

Geography

The park spreads along the crest of the Sahyadri Range of the Western Ghats. It forms and protects many perennial water channels, water holes and the Vasant Sagar Reservoir. Altitude of the park ranges from 589 m to 1,044 m..The park receives its water supply from the Warna river and reservoir as well as several other small streams and rivers.

Flat topped mountains, rocky, lateritic plateaus called 'Saddas', almost devoid of vegetation, large boulders and caves are distinctive to the protected areas in the Sahyadri region of the Western Ghats.

Flora

The forest types seen here are a mix of western tropical hill forests, west coast semi-evergreen forests and southern moist mixed deciduous forests. In the dwarf evergreen forests, tree species commonly seen are the ironwood tree or anjani Memecylon umbellatum, jambul (Syzygium cumini), pisa Actinodaphne angustifolia, fig Ficus glomerata, Olea diocia, spinous kino tree or katak Bridelia retusa, nana Lagerstroemia lanceolata, kinjal Terminalia paniculata, kokum tree Garcinia indica and false kelat or phanasi Carallia brachiat. Other trees dominating the landscape include Indian laurel or asan wood or ain Terminalia tomentosa, Indian gooseberry or amla Emblica officinalis, devil fig or umbar Ficus hispida and chebulic myrobalan or harra Terminalia chebula.

Grasses commonly seen here include bangala Andropogon sp., golden beard grass or dongari Chrysopogon fulvus, black spear grass, tangle grass or kalikusli Heteropogon contortus, buffel grass or anjan grass Cenchrus ciliaris, grader grass, kangaroo grass or karad Themeda quadrivalvis and grasses belonging to Poaceae family, like saphet-kusli Aristida funiculata. Insectivorous plant species like Drosera and Utricularia sp. are also found in this protected area.

Fauna

Nearly 23 species of mammals, 122 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and reptiles are known to be resident in the forests of Chandoli. Tigers (Panthera tigris), Indian bison or gaur Bos gaurus, sambar Cervus unicolor, leopard cats Prionailurus bengalensis, sloth bears Melursus ursinus and Indian giant squirrels Ratufa indica are quite conspicuous here. Many species of ungulates like barking deer Muntiacus muntjak, mouse deer Moschiola meminna and blackbuck Antilope cervicapra are also present. A census carried out in 2002 by the Forest Department showed a rise in the number of tigers, leopards Panthera pardus, gaur, barking deer, mouse deer, sloth bears and blackbuck. A similar census carried out in 2004 showed a rise in gaur population in the Kohlapur Wildlife Division from 88 to 243..

Sahyadri Tiger Reserve

The 741.22 km2 Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, including all of Chandoli Park and Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary was declared by The National Tiger Conservation Authority (Project Tiger) on May 21, 2007. The Sahyadri Tiger Reserve was estimated to have nine tigersmarker and 66 leopards in 2007..

Development

Work undertaken for habitat improvement and development in the Chandoli National Park include removal of invading species, soil & water conservation, vaccination of cattle, research, fire tracing, providing salt licks, demarcation of boundary, erection of watch towers, maintenance of nature trails, desalting water holes, development of grasslands, and procurement of wireless equipment.

Threats

The Maharashtra government has plans to set up a hydro-electric project (Karadi-Bhogiv project) in the catchment area of the Warna dam that is expected to use up 6.78 km2 of forest land. On a positive note, nearly 7,894 people and a significant cattle population resident on 84.29 km2 area of land in 32 villages within the park have been successfully relocated to areas outside. This measure has helped to preserve and regenerate some of the vegetation in this protected area.

Visitor Information

Scenic places like Kandhardoh and Kandhardoh Falls, Tanali falls and Vasant Sagar Reservoir are places of tourist importance in the park. Scenic points like Kokna darshan, Zolambi sada and the virgin forest of Rundiv add to the recreation value.

Best time to visit is August to February. June to September have heavy rainfall (over 3500 mm.).The nearest Airport is at Kolhapur (80 km).Kolhapur (80 km) is the nearest railway station.Karad (45 km) and Islampur (55 km) are on the Pune-Banglore highway.

Accommodation can be reserved at the Irrigation Rest House, which has 4 suites, including 1 VIP suite and a dormitory for 16 persons, by contacting: Ex. Engineer, Irrigation Department at Mandur, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, 416 002

Administrator of the park is:Deputy Conservator of Forests/Wildlife,Bindu chowk, Ganji Galli, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, 416 002Phone: 00-91-231-2542766

References

  1. loksatta.com



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