The best time to visit Goa would be during the months of November till about March, though it might be crowded as most tourists visit during this period. The monsoons last from March-April to about October-November. In the summer, maximum temperatures in Goa can rise to 350C and the humidity is over 85 per cent. Also, the climate tends to get hotter just after the monsoons.
There is no official accommodation available under the management of the Wildlife and Ecotourism Wing at Mollem. However, the Forest Department has one suite available at the Forest Rest Hose at Mollem. For bookings, please contact: Deputy Conservator of Forests (North Goa), Dhavli-Ponda, Goa. Tel.: 0832-312095.
Another option is to stay in cottages and dormitories available at the Forest Resort Complex in Mollem, run by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation. Tel.: 0832-226782/ 226515/ 224132. For bookings contact: The Manager, Tourist Cottages, Goa Tourism Development Corporation, Mollem, Taluka Sanguem, Goa. Tel.: 0832-600238.
Accommodation is also available in various private hotels suiting all kinds of budgets throughout Goa.
By Air: Goa is well connected with regular flights available from all major cities in India. Dambolim is the airport nearest to the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. From Dambolim, one can travel to Mollem (67 km.) by road via Margao, Ponda and Tiska.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is at Collem South Central Railway. From Collem, one has to travel 6 km. to Mollem. The Konkan Railway stops at the Carambolim Karmali station. From Carambolim, one has to travel 50 km. to Mollem via Old Goa-Ponda-Tiska.
By Road: If one is travelling by road, National Highway 4A (on the Western Ghats) passes through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. All inter-state buses from Belgaum, Hubli and Bangalore halt at Mollem where the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary office is located. The routes often taken are either via Panaji-Ponda-Tiska-Mollem (57 km.) or via Margao-Ponda-Tiska-Mollem (42 km.). Taxis and tourist buses are cheap and comfortable to travel in within Goa. At the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, often taxi drivers can also act as guides. Hiring a car is not a very economical option and it is also not very easy for a tourist to drive around in Goa as the roads are bad and local drivers may be rash. It is often best to hire a driver from the hotel you're staying in as such drivers work at fixed rates, so there is no question of bargaining or being cheated.
The dense forests provide an excellent habitat and good cover for wildlife. One of the largest herbivores living in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary is the gaur, which is the state animal of Goa. Deer, sambar, spotted deer, hog and barking deer are some of the other herbivores in the sanctuary. The mouse deer is a small animal with the body of a mouse and skinny legs resembling a deer. The carnivore population includes the tiger, leopard cat, panther, jungle cat and toddy cat. The lesser Indian civet, wild dog, hyena, sloth bear, jackal, bonnet macaque, slender lorris, scaly ant eater, giant squirrel, flying squirrel, giant squirrel, flying fox and common otter are some of the other species that inhabit these forests. Wild dogs move in packs, seeking and hunting prey together. Among reptiles, king cobras are fairly common in the sanctuary.
There are over 120 bird species recorded at the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. The Ruby-throated Yellow Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus gularis, which is the state bird of Goa, is commonly seen at the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. Many of the birds are resident species including the Golden Oriole, Emerald Dove, Common Grey Hornbill, Paradise Flycatcher, Great Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Trogan, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, White-rumped Spine Tail, Ashy Wood Swallow, Asian Palm Swift, Jungle Babbler, Olive-backed Pipit, Pompadour Pigeon, Jungle Owlet, White-bellied Woodpecker, Black-crested Bulbul, Forest Wagtail, Scarlet Minivet, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and the Sulphur-bellied Warbler.
The Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary includes the rolling ridges of the Western Ghats up to its foothills. The sanctuary covers an area of 240 sq. km., out of a total forest cover of 762.53 sq. km., which forms 20 per cent of Goa's total area. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the Ponda and Sanguem talukas in the eastern part of Goa. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary is surrounded by the Eastern Ghats and the state of Karnataka to the south.
It is richly vegetated with a mixture of moist deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. There are also some patches of savannah grasslands. The most dominant species at the sanctuary is Terminalia. Other evergreen species found here include hopea, messua or iron wood, dalchini Calophyllum, nutmeg Myristica, and kokum Garcinia, Artocarpus lakoocha. The trees in the forests are covered with giant creepers, lianas such as Enthada pursaetha and Gnetum ula, a climbing gymnosperm. Varieties of cane are also common. Arbus precatorius, Costus speciosa, Rauwolfia serpentina are some of the common medicinal plants found in the forests of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary.
The best way to explore these forests and catch sight of some of the fascinating biodiversity here is to spend a few days trekking in the remote areas of the sanctuary.
Nestled in a valley of the Western Ghats, in the southeast region of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Dudhsagar is the largest waterfall in Goa, cascading down 306 m. in two steps. It literally translates into 'an ocean of milk'. You may approach Dudhsagar via Margao or Vasco. It is a beautiful 10 km. trek from Colemand. Although the best time to visit the Dudhsagar Falls is during the monsoons, it is breathtaking throughout the year.
An interesting formation, the Devil's Canyon is a rock that has been broken into crisscross sections and underwater passages, through which the waters of the Dudhsagar flow with great turbulence.
Goa's oldest and most sacred rock temple, the Mahadeva temple was built in the 13th Century B.C. during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty. It was built with black basalt rock and is the only one of its kind in Goa. It is located at Tambdi Surma, 13 km. from Mollem.
Nature Interpretation Centre
Located within the sanctuary, the Nature Interpretation Centre is worth visiting for abundant and useful information on nature, environment and wildlife.
Affords an extremely scenic drive.
Offers a panoramic view of the hills and valleys and the beautiful beaches along the coast. In fact, on a full moon evening, it is possible to watch the sunset and moonrise clearly at the same time!
Bhandaras and Mineral Water Springs
Another convenient place to watch wildlife.
Recognised as a cradle for future forest formations, it is an interesting location for field studies.
Visitors need a permit or an entry ticket to enter the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, which can be purchased at the park office. It is essential to have an experienced guide while travelling through the forest. If one is trekking, it is safer to keep to your group in the trekking path, as it is easy to get lost in the sanctuary. It is important to keep the noise levels low, as animals get startled easily. While birdwatching, one should not imitate birdcalls as this annoys the birds. The best time to watch birds is between 6.30 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. and between 4.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m. in the evening. Binoculars are very useful to spot species at a distance. It is advisable to use your camera without a flash as the light may disturb animals. Avoid using matchsticks, lighters, cigarettes, etc. as this increases the risk of a forest fire.
The Range Forest Officer (Wildlife), Mollem, Taluka Sanguem, Goa. Tel.: 0832-600231.
The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Division Forest Department, 4th floor, Junta House, Panaji - 403001, Goa. Tel.: 0832-229701.
Chief Wildlife Warden, Forest Department, 3rd floor, Junta House, Panaji - 403001. Tel.: 0832-225926; Fax: 0832-224747.
Government of India Tourism Office, 123 Maharshi Karve Road, Opp. Churchgate, Mumbai - 400020. Tel.: 91-22-2032932/ 2033144/ 2033145; Fax: 91-22-2014496.
The forests of the Western Ghats were legally protected by the government on June 2, 1999 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, when the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary was declared. The Dhangars, a community of nomadic buffalo herders live around the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. Goa is a popular tourist destination due to its numerous beaches. The Portuguese influence on Goa is evident in the architecture of the region, including the numerous churches. One of the most ancient temples in Goa is the Mahadeva temple at Tambdi Surla, where the shrine is believed to date back to the Kadamba dynasty.