Serene, sprawling and crystal clear water body, nestled within a dense green forest, surrounded by an abundance of flora and fauna is sure reflection of nature’s blessings. This is not a description of a surreal scene, but an unfeigned reality of the Navegaon National park.
Navegaon National Park
The lush green surroundings and the picture perfect lake located in the Navegaon forest reserve in Gondia district in Maharashtra, is what attracts thousands of visitors every year.
What To Experience At Navegaon?
The scenic Navegaon Lake, which stretches around an area of 11 sq km, is certainly the main attraction at the forest reserve. Camping along the banks, trailing on the forest path, sail in a boat in the lake or residing in a treetop retreat, can one ask for more on a weekend off!
But Navegaon or “new village” as in Marathi has much more novelties to offer. The lake itself has an interesting legend behind it. In 1300 A.D., two brothers Kohlu and Chiman Patil, zamindars under the ruling Gond kings were entrusted to dig up the lake for agriculture development and solve local people’s water woes. The diligent brother duo built the reservoir and the water was supplied to farmers for free and with this, the region flourished. The reservoir is also called Kolhasur as a tribute to Kohlu Patil. There is a temple of Lord Hanuman at the lake where locals offer prayers and a tank called “saat behini” or seven sisters dedicated to sisters of the Patil brothers.
The entire Navegaon Park encompasses an area of 133.78 sq km and is of great importance from biodiversity conservation point of view. On a jungle safari or a trek through the beautiful forest one can expect to cross paths with leopards, sloth bears, gaurs, sambhars, chitals and langurs.
Navegaon is also bird watchers paradise with 60 % of the bird species in entire Maharashtra found here at the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Grab your binoculars and climb the watchtower beside the lake to marvel at the winged visitors. Winters are usually the best time at the lake for bird watchers when flocks of migratory birds visit the water body. There is an aviary and a deer park here, which certainly can excite children and adults alike.
If you are an explorer and want to wander around the area further then there are some interesting sites nearby like the Nagzira Wildlife Santuary (60 kms), Itiadoh Dam (20 km), the Tibetan Camp (15 km) and Pratapgad (15 km).
When To Visit
Temperatures are pleasant all year round. The best time to visit the national park is during April and May. Every Thursday the park remains closed. The wildlife sanctuary opens up as early as 4:00 am and is open up to 7:00 pm.
How To Reach & Where To Stay?
The nearest airport is Nagpur, 120 km away and the nearest railway station is Gondia (65 km). Trains can be taken from Nagpur and Gondia to reach Navegaon or alternately private taxis can be hired. Rest houses and Youth Hostel in Gondia offer a comfortable stay to those who wish to make a day trip to the Navegaon National Park. The adventurous lot can stay put at Navegaon as the place has some guest houses including a treetop retreat run by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).