Velavadar National Park, also known as Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary is situated in the Bhal region of Saurashtra. Ideally set between two rivers, one of the main reasons for the rich soil found here, the park is located about 50 km west of the Gulf of Cambay.
Velavadar’s history dates back to the pre independence period when the place was a part of the princely state of Bhavnagar and the park used as a grazing ground for the Maharaja’s cattle. After independence, the population of blackbuck started to decrease and came down to a meagre 200 in 1966. It was then that the area of 8.9 sq. km was converted into a sanctuary. In 1972, the area was increased to around 34 sq. km and was accorded the status of a national park under the Wildlife Protection Act. A unique feature of the park is that it is the only tropical grassland in India to be given the status of a national park.
There are two gates with a road in between which leads to the park. The reception attached to the Kaliyarbhavan Forest Lodge is the place where the visitors pay the entry fee to the park. The park interpretation centre located at a short distance from here provides basic information about the animals and birds found in the area.
The ecosystem of the park houses four distinct habitats, grassland, shrubland, saline land and high tidal lands. One of the most thrilling sights in the area is the unusual mating rituals of the blackbuck, which involves a spectacular vertical leap of upto 2 mts by the male.
Major Wildlife Attractions – Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary
The park is home to over 187 species of birds including residents and migratory birds such as Harrier, Partridge, Pelican, Duck, Crane, Stork, Eagle, Sand Grouse, Lark and Lesser Florican.
Besides the blackbuck, other commonly found mammals include the Nilgai, Wolf, Wild Cat, Jackal, Indian Fox, Wild Boar, Porcupine, Hare and Rodent, while the reptile kingdom constitute of Saw Scaled Vipers, Common Cobra, Krait, Rat Snake and Sand Boa.
Velvadhar is a great place for photographers with large herds of black bucks and flocks of birds presenting some great opportunities for photography. A drive or walk around the park can also be rewarding as chances of spotting the highly endangered florican and other feathered inhabitants, though slim, can not be ruled out.
The jungle trail located in the park is a straight path with watchtowers dotted around it. The ‘wetland’, located just 3 km from the entry gate is an ideal spot to check out the wildlife. There are no safaris provided by the forest department, so your own vehicle is the only source of enjoying a ride around the park but be cautioned as animals cross the roads at all times, so be sure to drive slowly and safely.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary is November to February, just come here and explore the celebration of Life.
How to Get there:
Air: Bhavnagar is the nearest airport. Mumbai is connected to Bhavnagar through Jet Airways (7:35, daily) & Air Deccan (15:10, daily). Be sure to book in advance as not many flights are available.
Rail: Bhavnagar is the nearest railhead, connected by trains from Mumbai, Bhavnagar Exp. (21:25, daily) & CCT BVC Exp. (4:50, Fri).
Road: To reach by road from Ahmedabad, take the NH8A to Bagodra via Sarkhej. From Sarkhej, drive through the state highway to Velvadar via Fadra, Pipli, Dholera and Adhelui. Average time taken for the journey is around 5 hrs. The route from Bhavnagar is through the state highway to Adhelui via Nari and Sanes while an alternate route is via Valbhipur and Navgaon.
General Info / Tips:
Park charges are Entry Fee : Rs. 30 (Indians) & US$ 5 (foreigners), Vehicle Entry : Rs. 35 (Indians) & US$ 10 (foreigners), Guide Fee : Rs. 50, Still Camera : Rs. 50 (Indians) & US$ 5 (foreigners), Video Camera : Rs. 2500 (Indians) & US$ 200 (foreigners)
Park timings are 6:30 to 8:30 AM & 4:30 to 6:30 PM
The food provided at the forest lodge is very basic and simple consisting mainly of dal, rice and chappati.
Try to avoid wearing flashy colors and strong smelling perfumes.
Blackbuck, Wolf, Cobra, Krait, Rat Snake and Sand Boa