I first heard of the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary from Lakshmi and Deepak, when I asked them for offbeat suggestions for my Goa trip. They gave me identical replies – “Take Samhith to the zoo at the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. He will enjoy it.” Normally, I am less than enthusiastic about visiting zoos (the Mysore zoo is the only exception!), but when two blogger friends I think highly of, recommend the same place, I take their advice! As it turned out, we missed our route, and had to take a very long detour to reach the place, but I stuck my ground, in spite of the driver grumbling about how there was nothing to see there.
At first glance, it appeared as if our driver was indeed right. The first couple of enclosures, with a sleepy porcupine hiding from the afternoon sun, and a palm civet fast asleep were nothing to write about.
Then, we came to the Sloth Bear, who had a whole enclosure to himself… and he walked around all the time, looking at us just as curiously as we were looking at him. Yes, it did help that we were the only visitors around, but our enthusiasm only increased from then!
The leopard glared at us through his cage, as he paced to and fro…
…while the tiger sat royally in his enclosure, which, for once, was really big enough! Can you spot him here?
Take a closer look now.
Even while I was busy trying to click a good photo of our National Animal, Samhith was busy elsewhere, having spotted a Giant Wood Spider! Spiders always trump Tigers, at least in his book!
This was at the crocodile enclosure. What do you see? Two crocs fast asleep? Look closer:
Can you see the turtle?
This was Samhith’s work again, spotting this interesting friendship! One that now is our most enduring memory of the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary! Thank you, Lakshmi and Deepak, for suggesting I go there!
- The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is the smallest of the three sanctuaries in Goa, and is located about 35 Km from Madgaon and 52 Km from Panaji. The main attraction here is the zoo, though there is also a botanical garden here. There are also a few eco-tourism cottages built here, and bookings can be made through the Goa Forest Department.
- Suggestions: We made a day trip from Goa, combining a visit to the sanctuary with the Tambdi Surla Temple, the Shantadurga Temple, and the Mangeshi Temple. However, staying here might allow you to explore the area a bit more, through the treks the Forest department conducts here. I was unfortunately unable to gather any more information about them, since the office was deserted when we visited.
- I also read that a number of stone carvings were found here when the sanctuary was being developed. It is believed that these may have been hidden here in the forest to preserve them from destruction by the Portuguese. We didn’t see any of them, but we only explored a small portion of the sanctuary, so if you visit, keep your eyes open!