Bhigwan-‘Bharatpur of Maharashtra’
Winter being the migratory season for birds, the pink Greater Flamingos from Siberia migrate to Iran and India. A quaint little town Bhigwan in Maharashtra is where you can spot these flamboyant birds. Flamingos, Herons, Cranes, Marsh Harriers, Tawny Eagles, Sea Gulls are just few of the many birds you will come across at the small town of Bhigwan.
Bhigwan is situated at one end of the Yashwant Sagar reservoir which is the catchment area of the Ujain dam. It is about 100 km from Pune. Bhigwan is flocked with migratory birds between late December and early February, hence it is also known as the ‘Bharatpur of Maharashtra’. Bird lovers from all over Maharashtra make their way here to witness the symphony created by these magnificent birds.
To reach Bhigwan you have to take the Pune-Solapur highway. There are two places in Bhigwan that are famous for flamingo spotting; Diksal and Kumbhargaon. We went to Kumbhargaon. You have to drive approximately 2 kms ahead of Bhigwan before taking the exit to Kumbhargaon. The sign boards are well placed, so you will not have a problem finding the place.
Sandip and Nitin Nagare (09767571734) are local residents and they will help in arranging a boat for you. The cost for a boat that seven people share is Rs. 100 per person. You can also hire an entire boat for yourself at Rs. 800. The birding experience lasts for about 2 hrs. It is also possible to stay overnight in tents beside the lake. The Nagare’s are very helpful and friendly. You should call them up a day before and discuss your plan so that they can arrange the boats, accomodation and food for you. A bird guide will accompany you on your excursion.
Make sure you plan your trip such that you reach the place by 6:45-7:00 am, before the weather starts getting warmer. This also is the best time to get the perfect lighting for photography. If you are a photography enthusiast, unless you have a high tech camera phone or a camera with good zoom lens, you may get disappointed. The boat ride does not take you very close to the flamingos as it may disrupt their natural habitat. We were lucky to see a flock of Flamingos fly over us. The alighting of the flamingos is a sight you must not miss. Our boatman bought a bucket of fish from a local fisherman during the ride and attracted the Sea Gulls towards us by feeding them. The experience of watching the Sea Gulls sweeping over our heads and diving into the water to get the fish was thrilling.