Bhigwan – Bird Lover’s Paradise
The Ujani Dam was built on the mighty Bhima River in 1980 to facilitate water supply to the nearby region. Who would’ve known that the reservoir created by the dam would bring thousands of Flamingos and other species of birds every year? The best part – it’s located only two hrs from Pune, which makes it a perfect spot for a day trip! Read more about my experience at this fascinating place…
Location and Logistics
Bhigwan is a small village located on the Pune–Solapur highway, approximately 100 km from Pune. I last used the Pune–Solapur highway about four years ago and boy, has it changed! The road is in pristine condition once you leave the patchy roads of Hadapsar. It doesn’t take much time to travel but I recommend you start as early as possible to avoid the crowds and capture some awesome photographs at sunrise.
While I can easily identify crows, pigeons and sparrows, my general expertise of bird spotting is disastrous! If you’re in the same category as me, hundreds of bird lovers in and around Bhigwan will be there to help you out.
I was told by a friend to directly head to a small hamlet called Kumbhargaon, a few km ahead of Bhigwan. Some local fishermen organise boat rides to the spots where you can see the birds in large numbers. Being a Sunday, it was pretty crowded by 9 am but we did manage to get a boat within 15 minutes. You can spot a variety of birds even while waiting for your boat. It took the boat about 35-40 minutes to reach the spot where we spotted Flamingos, Painted Storks and Pond Herons to name a few.
It was a fantastic sight to see so many Flamingos and Storks gracefully walking around in the shallow waters of the reservoir. The boat riders also carried dry fish for the birds. As soon as a few pieces were offered, the birds took a short flight to descend near our boats. Until that moment, I never really imagined the joy of watching such beautiful birds from close quarters. The boat riders were happy to let everyone take their time to enjoy the views and capture photographs, which was much appreciated by everyone.
The boat ride is a must for all visiting Bhigwan, however, there are many other great spots like Diksal to spot birds. The local villagers and fellow bird lovers will guide you to the best spots on the day you visit.
Best Time to Visit
The migration of birds starts around November and lasts until mid-March. The local fishermen recommend people to visit at least 2-3 times during the season as different species arrive and leave in different months of the year.
It is highly recommended to spend an entire day (sunrise to sunset) at various spots around the reservoir to enjoy what Bhigwan has to offer. Weekends at Bhigwan can get busy so plan your trip on a weekday if possible.
Contact and Costs
Sandeep Nagare (+91-9960610615) is a famous local guide who arranges boat rides at Rs. 100 per person. He offers free parking (saw at least 50 cars there) and serves breakfast or lunch for a nominal charge. Boat rides are shared, however, if you want to spend more time in the water, you can rent out a boat for half a day or so. It’s best to give him a heads up a day before you go.
- – Even in winter, the 90-120 minutes boat ride can take a toll on you. Carry sunscreen, cap, glares and water.
- – The narrow roads to reach Kumbhargaon are not built for cars with low ground clearance. Be careful while driving.
- – Although these boat rides are generally safe, life jackets are not available.
- – Depths of the reservoir vary. Check with locals before entering the water to take photographs.
- – There are some great dhabas near Yevat on the way back to Pune. Do try their special mutton recipes!