The lush green forests of Gujarat along with a wide range of wild animals including some rare species have always caught the attention of travelers. Nalsarovar Bird sanctuary, Velvadar Blackbuck national Park, Marine Sanctuary & Marine National Park Ratanmahal and Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, etc. are some of the most popular sanctuaries in the state.
Ratanmahal and Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, as the name suggests is the abode of one of the most intriguing and eye-catching animals known as the Sloth Bear. Many wildlife enthusiasts love to watch the Sloth Bear or Melursus ursinus. For them and other Nature lovers also, this sanctuary in the north-western state of Gujarat is a perfect place where they can enjoy a lot forgetting all the worries of daily life.
If you plan to visit Gujarat, then the sloth bear sanctuary should top your tour itinerary. Just take a look at the important details about this sanctuary mentioned here:
The name of the sanctuary is derived from the name of the nearby localities like Ratnamahal and Kubero-Morai. The original word for 'Mahal' is 'Maal' which is a local word. It means plain or flat surface on top of the Ratnamahal hills.
Area and location:
Declared as a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1978, this sanctuary covers an area of 45 sq. km. It is located in Dahod in Banaskatha District. It stands at a height of 230 meters above the sea level. The triangular landmass of the area covers reserve forests of 11villages. Almost 41 villages are situated in the interaction zone. The Panama River flows through the sanctuary and presents a picturesque view of the area.
You will be taken away by the amazing range of flora and fauna in the Sloth Bear sanctuary. Dense forests with hilly terrain in this small tract would lend you the feel of a hill station. Mixed deciduous forest, dry bamboo brakes, dry teak forest at foot hills and in periphery, 'Timru' forest (pure patch) and 'Sadad' forest (pure patch), etc. are the main vegetation here.
All these provide food and shelter to the trees. A good number of 'Mahudo' trees intermixed with pure scraps of 'Sadad' and 'Timru' forest on plateaus of the hills and at foothills are the foodstuff for the sloth bears. You will notice a considerable number of 'Jamun' trees that provide food to sloth bear during monsoon.
543 species of plants that include herbs, shrubs, grasses, climbers, trees, orchids and partial parasites form the research area of many botanists and environmentalists. You will find timru, dhavdo, amla, bamboo, teak, dudhlo, sadad, kakadiyo, mahuda, tanach, charoli, ber, khakhro, jamun, etc. here.
From flora, we move on to the faunal species that include hanuman langur, leopard, striped hyena, sloth bear, jackal, mongoose, porcupine, civet cat, four-horned antelope, jungle cat, etc. and venomous snakes like Saw-scaled viper, cobra, krait, Bamboo pit viper, etc. and non-venomous snakes like Rat snake, Trinket, Red sand boa, Python, etc. Other species include Flap-shell turtle, Chameleon, Star tortoise and Termite hill gecko.
There are 147 species of avifauna species such as partridge, tailor bird quail, grey jungle fowl, common babbler, Alexandrine parakeet, green pigeon, hoopoe, lesser golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle, grey jungle fowl.
When to visit?
October to March is the best time to visit the sanctuary. The temperature in summer rises to 40° C whereas in winter it ranges from 10° C to 20° C.
Where to stay?
You can stay in any hotel in Palanpur or Banaskantha.
Palampur airport at a distance of 35 km is the nearest airport. The nearest railway station is Maranda railway station that is only 2 km away from the park. You can avail public transport buses that regularly ply from Palampur to major cities like Pathankot, Dharmshalas and Mandi.
Visiting some more places:
You can visit some nearby places like the ancient fortified town of Dabhoi, the captivating hillocks and the Aravalli Mountains in the old city of Palanpur, Danta, the old capital of Rajputs, etc.
All in all Ratanmahal and Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary would provide you a mesmerizing experience that will last for a lifetime.