Situated along the North East border of Goa at Molem, about one-and-a-half hours’ journey from Panaji (60 kms), the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary covers 240 sq.kms of thick forest clad slopes on the Western Ghats and its valleys and is the biggest of the three sanctuaries of Goa. Rich in wildlife, it is a paradise for bird watchers. Besides flora and fauna, there are many important geological and historical features in this sanctuary. Dudhsagar falls, about an hour’s journey from Colem by train, is a feast for the eyes. The ‘Devil Canyon’ is another beautiful geological spot. The famous Lord Mahadeva Temple situated at Tambdi Surla is about 13 kms from Molem. The Department of Tourism has built comfortable cottages and dormitories for tourists. Entry fee Rs.10/- per adult, Rs.5/- per child and Rs.3/- per student.
This sanctuary contains pristine vegetation classified as West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests, West Coast Semi – Evergreen Forests and Moist Deciduous Forests. The evergreen forests are mainly seen at higher altitudes and along the river banks. The predominant species are Terminalia, Lagerstroemia, Xylia and Dalbergia. The forest canopy is almost closed and the availability of grass is very limited. There are several perennial water sources in the sanctuary and the availability of water is not a limiting factor for wildlife.
The Western Ghats form one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Goa is nestled in the Western Ghats and the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest sanctuaries in Goa. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect place for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. However, political interests and industrialisation are taking a toll on the sanctuary as activities such as mining threaten forestland.
If you are birdwatching enthusiasts, this sanctuary offers excellent opportunities for you. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is home to around 200 avian species. Some of the popular bird species which you can see here are Indian great black woodpecker, Malabar pied hornbill, Great Indian hornbill, Paradise flycatcher, Fairy bluebird, Drongo, Emerald dove, Grey jungle fowl, Wag tails, Barbets, Kingfishers, Shrikes etc.
Further climb up to the watchtowers near the waterholes to get a fantastic view of the animals who come to quench their thirst. You can also spot a wide variety of bird species in this sanctuary. To get a breathtaking view of the surrounding hills and valleys visit the Sunset Point, where the beauty of majestic Golden Goan sunset will treat you.
The vegetation of the sanctuary consists of three major types – West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests, West Coast Semi- Evergreen Forests and Moist Deciduous Forests. Here, you will see the species of Terminalia, Xylia, Dalbergia, Lagerstromia etc. Availability of grass is very limited, while evergreen forests are mainly centred on higher altitudes and along the river banks.
This sanctuary and national park contain several geological, cultural and visitor service attractions that make this largest protected area in Goa a popular visitor destination.