Sunday, August 20, 2023

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. The main physical features of the Sanctuary are ridges, hill slopes, plateau, uplands, gorges, ravines, cliffs, valleys, rocky stream basins, spurs with flat tops, and valleys.

The sanctuary is named after the Bhimashankar Temple, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated near the origin of the River Bhima.

Bhimashankar Sanctuary is famous for the highly endangered subspecies of the Indian Giant Squirrel, locally known as Shekru. This is the state animal of Maharashtra.

The Bhimashankar region is part of the Western Ghats, which is recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot. These mountains are known for their unique and diverse ecosystems, and efforts to conserve these ecosystems have gained importance over time.

The sanctuary also serves as a research site for ecologists, conservationists, and researchers studying the Western Ghats' unique ecosystems. It plays a crucial role in raising awareness about biodiversity conservation.

Table of Contents

  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Location
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary History
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Area
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Hills
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary River
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Flora
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Bioluminescence
  • Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Location

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Ambegaon and Khed talukas of Pune district of Maharashtra. It lies in the northern part of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. 

The sanctuary is easily accessible from cities like Pune and Mumbai, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, trekkers, and tourists.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is the Pune International Airport. It's located in Pune, Maharashtra, and is approximately the closest major airport to the sanctuary. From the Pune Airport, you can travel by road to reach the sanctuary.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Railway Station:

As for the nearest railway station, the Pune Railway Station (Pune Junction) is the most convenient option. It's a major railway station in Pune and is well-connected to various cities across India. Once you reach Pune Railway Station, you can continue your journey to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary by road.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary History

The history of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is closely tied to its geographical and cultural significance. Here's a general overview of its historical context:

Cultural Significance: The area around Bhimashankar has historical and religious importance. The Bhimashankar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in Hindu tradition. The temple attracts pilgrims and devotees from various parts of India. The presence of the temple has likely contributed to the area's conservation as well, given the cultural and religious respect for natural spaces.

Establishment: The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary was established on 16th September 1985. This date marks the official notification that designated the area as a protected wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary's establishment aimed to safeguard the rich biodiversity of the region, preserve its natural habitats, and ensure the conservation of its diverse plant and animal species.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Area

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of approximately 130.78 square kilometers. This expanse includes a diverse range of ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands, and water bodies, making it an important habitat for various plant and animal species. 

The sanctuary's considerable size allows for the protection and preservation of the unique biodiversity found within the Western Ghats region of Maharashtra, India.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Hills

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Western Ghats, a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of India. The sanctuary itself is encompassed by hills and valleys, characteristic of the Sahyadri Range. This topography contributes to the sanctuary's diverse ecosystems, including lush forests, grasslands, waterfalls, and various habitats for wildlife.

The hills in and around the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary not only add to the scenic beauty of the area but also play a crucial role in shaping the local climate, hydrology, and biodiversity. The combination of elevations, slopes, and vegetation types supports a wide range of plant and animal species, making the sanctuary an ecologically significant region within the Western Ghats. 

The sanctuary's hills and mountains provide opportunities for trekking, nature exploration, and experiencing the serene beauty of the natural landscapes.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary River

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to several rivers and streams that flow through its diverse landscapes. Three rivers, Bhima, Ghod and Arala, originate from the western part of the Sanctuary. 

The presence of these rivers and streams contributes to the sanctuary's ecological diversity by creating different habitats for various species of plants and animals. They also play a vital role in providing water to the local wildlife and maintaining the overall health of the ecosystems within the sanctuary.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Flora

What is the flora of Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary?

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is a diverse ecosystem that encompasses a range of vegetation types, including semi-evergreen, moist deciduous, and scrub forests. The sanctuary is located in the Western Ghats of India, and it harbors a rich diversity of plant species. 

Here are some of the plant species found in the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary:

Memecylon umbellatum: Also known as Ironwood, this is a tree species found in the sanctuary's forests.

Atlantia racemosa: Commonly known as Indian Satinwood, it is a tree species with aromatic leaves.

Xantolis tomentosa: This is a shrub species found in the sanctuary's vegetation.

Carvia callosa: This plant is of particular interest and may be locally abundant in the sanctuary. However, specific details about this plant are limited in the provided information.

Mangifera indica: The well-known Mango tree is found in the sanctuary, belonging to the semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forest types.

Syzygium cumini: Also known as Java Plum or Jamun, this tree is found in the sanctuary's forests.

Terminalia chebula: Commonly known as Haritaki, this tree species is present in the sanctuary.

Terminalia bellirica: This tree, known as Bibhitaki, is another Terminalia species found in the sanctuary.

Bambusa arundinacea: This bamboo species is part of the sanctuary's diverse flora.

Cassia tora: A plant species that belongs to the Cassia genus and is found in the sanctuary.

Acacia sinuata: A species of Acacia, a common genus of trees and shrubs.

Eleusine carcara: This is likely a typo or a misidentified species. The correct identification could be "Eleusine coracana," commonly known as Finger Millet.

Athyrium falcatus: This is a fern species that can be found in the sanctuary's undergrowth.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna (Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Animals)

Which animal is famous in Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary?

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a diverse range of fauna, including various species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and more. Here are some examples of the fauna found in the sanctuary:


  • Leopard
  • Striped Hyaena
  • Golden Jackal
  • Sambar
  • Barking Deer
  • Wild Boar
  • Common Langur
  • Rhesus Macaque
  • Mouse Deer
  • Indian Giant Squirrel
  • Indian Pangolin 


  • Black Eagle
  • Malabar Whistling Thrush
  • Grey Junglefowl
  • Green Pigeon
  • Quaker Babbler
  • Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon
  • Blue-winged or Malabar Parakeet
  • Plum-headed Parakeet
  • Yellow-browed Bulbul 
  • White-bellied Blue-flycatcher
  • Small Sunbird
  • Tytler’s Leaf Warbler
  • Grey-fronted or Pampadour Green Pigeon


  • Indian Rock Python
  • Indian Cobra
  • Fan-throated Lizard

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary Bioluminescence

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its diverse flora and fauna. It's also known to host bioluminescent organisms, particularly fungi, which exhibit the fascinating ability to produce light through chemical reactions. Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon that occurs in various organisms, including certain species of fungi.

During the monsoon season, especially in humid and dark conditions, the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary may experience occurrences of bioluminescent fungi. These fungi emit a soft, eerie glow in the dark, often observed on the forest floor or on decaying organic matter like fallen leaves, logs, and tree bark. This bioluminescence is a result of a biochemical reaction involving enzymes, luciferin (a light-emitting compound), and oxygen.

It's important to note that bioluminescent fungi are not exclusive to Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary; they are found in various forested areas around the world. The presence of these fungi adds to the mystique and biodiversity of the sanctuary's ecosystem.

Observing bioluminescent fungi in their natural habitat can be a magical experience, as the soft glow creates an otherworldly atmosphere in the darkness of the forest. However, the occurrence of bioluminescence can be unpredictable and varies from year to year, depending on factors like weather conditions and the presence of the fungi's preferred substrate.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary situated?

A. The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. It is located in the Pune district, approximately 125 kilometers (78 miles) from the city of Pune. 

Q. When was Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary established?

A. The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary was established on 16th September, 1985. It was designated as a wildlife sanctuary to protect the diverse and unique flora and fauna found in the Western Ghats region of Maharashtra, India. The sanctuary covers an area of around 130.78 square kilometers and is known for its rich biodiversity and ecological significance.

Q. What is Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for?

A. The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for several notable features:

(i) Biodiversity: One of the primary reasons the sanctuary is renowned is its rich biodiversity. Situated in the Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot, the sanctuary is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several endemic and rare species.

(ii) Endangered Species: The sanctuary provides habitat for various endangered and vulnerable species, such as the Indian Giant Squirrel, Indian Pangolin, and Malabar Giant Squirrel.

(iii) Bioluminescent Fungi: During the monsoon season, the sanctuary sometimes experiences occurrences of bioluminescent fungi. These fungi emit a soft glow in the dark, creating a magical and otherworldly atmosphere in the forest.

(iv) Bird Watching: Bhimashankar is a popular destination for birdwatchers due to its avian diversity. Bird species like the Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Pitta, and Malabar Grey Hornbill can be spotted here.

(v) Trekking and Eco-Tourism: The sanctuary offers trekking opportunities through its lush landscapes, allowing visitors to experience the beauty of the Western Ghats up close. The trails provide a chance to explore the sanctuary's diverse flora and fauna.

(vi) Pilgrimage Destination: Apart from its natural significance, Bhimashankar is also a significant religious site. The Bhimashankar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is an important pilgrimage destination and attracts devotees from various places.

(vi) Western Ghats: Being situated within the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, adds to the sanctuary's prominence. The Western Ghats are known for their exceptional biodiversity and ecological value.

Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

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