Vansda National Park is a beautiful and amazing place; This National Park is located in Navsari district of Gujarat state. The name of the park was Vansda because the area was privatized by the Maharaja of Vansda. Vansda National Park is a unique protected area of the Gujarat government and state. This area was established in 1979 as a National Park. Grove of the area “katas” bamboo groves, since 1952, there is no beauty for cutting trees. The total area of the park is approximately 23.99 km2.
Gujarat is a land of extremes in a way. To the north-west there is the dry and arid region of Kutch, a desert area. Travel down south and at the start of the Western Ghats there are rainforests. One such forest is the Vansda National Park, a rich and unspoilt forest worth a visit.
People have heard of famous national parks but Vansda is not so well known. People usually visit Saputara resort and ignore Vansda that is not so far away. Vansda is tucked away near Navsari in the South of Gujarat and the park occupies only a small area of about 23.99 square kilometres. The region is home to tribals such as Kunbi, Dangi, Kokni, Bhil, Warli and Gamits. The Park is on the Vansda Waghai highway to the south-east of Vansda city in Navsari district.
The forest extends much further into Dangs and southwards.
The region was once owned by the Maharaja of Vansda from which it takes its name. The Park was officially established in 1979 but the Maharaja, the locals and the administration did not allow any felling of trees since 1952 which accounts for the fact that there are tall trees and dense vegetation inside.
Vansda is a deciduous forest with teak, mango, bamboo, humb, modad, timru, sisam, kusum, mahudo, behda, shimlo, amla, dudhkod and other trees making up the landscape. The south of Gujarat gets heavy monsoon rainfall and this is also a reason why there are trees in plenty and small streams crisscross the reserve with the Ambika River being the main one at the north-eastern part.
There are other attractions within close proximity such as the Gira Falls, the Mahal forest, hot water springs and botanical gardens. One of the better ways to visit is to spend a couple of days in the Kilad Nature Education campsite. You get to explore the forest and learn about it while spending beautiful evenings around campfires and exploring the deep dark jungles during daytime. In fact the entry point is at Kilad village, 10 km from Vansda and 3 km from Waghai. The other entry at Navtad village has been closed.
Flora and Fauna
Vansda National Park is home to over 110 species of trees, 63 types of climbers, 199 herbs, 25 grass species and 63 climber species. In all there are over 400 species to be found here including some rare and beautiful orchids.
Vansda abounds in fauna such as wild boar, leopard, monkeys, civets, porcupines, antelopes, deer, hyenas, jungle cats, squirrels and reptiles like cobra, krait, python and Russell’s viper. Vansda is also home to 121 species of spiders including the large giant wood spider. As for birds there is a huge variety like Paradise flycatcher, leaf bird, sunbird, woodpecker, Malabar trogon, hornbill, pea fowls and hornbills. Vansda is a delight for bird watchers provided one arrives here at the right time of the year.
How to Reach
Located on the Waghai highway, Vansda is easy to reach. One drives on the road to Waghai from Vansda town and in 15 minutes you are there. Driving in one’s own vehicle or a hired vehicle is the best idea. Two wheelers are not allowed inside the park. The park is about 28 km from Ahwa, 60 km from Saputara, 40 km from Bilimora, 130 km from Surat, 400 km from Ahmedabad and 310 km from Vadodara. Surat is the closest airport and Waghai is the closest railhead.
As in other national parks there is an entry fee of Rs 20 for Indians and $ 5 for foreign nationals. Vehicles are charged according to capacity with Rs 200 being the rate of a vehicle carrying 6 passengers. Larger vehicles attract higher charges. You may Rs 500 for a vehicle with capacity for 15 persons and Rs 1750 for vehicles carrying 60 persons. The rates may vary and may have been revised to Rs 400 for cars and SUV and Rs 2000 for larger vehicles. One must engage a guide and the charges are Rs 100 per hour. Photographers must pay Rs 200 and videographers pay Rs 5000 to Rs 10000.
Best Time to Visit
There are heavy rains during the monsoon and the region is flooded so the park is closed from June to October. October to February is the best time, especially October since the area is green and there are many water bodies inside the park. The park remains open from 8 AM to 5PM on all days.
Be careful of snakes on the ground and in the trees when you trek inside the forest. Some spiders may attack and are poisonous. It is best to wear full body covering when trekking inside the forest.
Most visitors are the day times and arriving here at around 9 AM will give sufficient time to explore a major part or interesting parts of the Park with a guide to take you to the right places. If one plans to spend a couple of days then the Kilad campsite is recommended. You get to stay inside the campsite in tents and learn more about the forest. Stay inside the forest is not permitted. There are also other campsites in Dang, Mahal and Padamdungari. One can stay in hotels in Vansda, in Saputara and Ahwa.
Vansda is a gem waiting to be discovered by nature lovers.