Bhigwan is a small town on the banks of Ujani lake, approx 100 km from Pune. The nearby villages mainly Kumbhargaon, Diksal host various beautiful migratory birds.
This huge reservoir is actually the backwater of the Ujani dam. Due to resource-rich water and soil, the various birds migrate to this place every year during winters. The most notable birds which can be spotted here are Painted Storks and gorgeous Flamingos. This place also hosts other wetland migratory birds such as the Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, many species of ducks, Grey Heron, Purple Swamphen and many more birds.
As winter slowly grows over Maharashtra, these migratory birds start breeding on the banks of this lake. Due to the large availability of fish and other resources, these migratory birds prefer to be at this lake and its surroundings. The usual period of visiting the place and enjoying bird watching is from late December till March. As the dam water level drops and the mercury rises in the area the birds start their journey back. But this short stay of the birds becomes a paradise for bird watchers and photographers.
Although birds are there all the time, the harsh sunlight makes it difficult to go there in the daytime. The best time to watch birds is a couple of hours after sunrise and before sunset. It hardly takes 2 hrs to reach Bhigwan from Pune, we prefer to start by 4 am and reach by 6 am to experience the magical view of sunrise over a massive water body. The mornings get serene and calm at this time. Otherwise, I am not a morning person, but when it comes to travel especially in places like Bhigwan, I just don’t mind witnessing the amazing sunrises.
There are some fishermen’s houses and they will host you with warmth and great hospitality. I have been visiting Bhigwan for a few years now and the locals have never failed me. Mr Anant is a local fisherman who’ll make sure you will not just get to see the Flamingos but also get the proper experience of bird watching. It takes approx 20-30 mins by boat to reach the actual place where the Flamingos rest.
This year I visited Bhigwan on the 26th of January along with Siddharth, Ishan and Poonam. Bhigwan never disappoints a true bird lover. We were totally mind blown by the view, the Flamingos and other birds. If you are a bird photography enthusiast don’t forget to carry your telephoto lenses and if not then a pair of binoculars will do. Since childhood, I always enjoyed watching documentaries on migratory birds, and now seeing these birds right in front of me was an altogether different joyful experience. The flamingos were barely 30-50 meters away from us, and we could clearly see their movements.
After spending around one-hour watching and photographing the Flamingos you will definitely enjoy the breakfast and discussing various birds that you get to see.
There is a beautiful dataset available at eBirds about birds spotted at Bhigwan. Do visit the page for more information.
How to reach –
By Road – Bhigwan is about 100 km on Solapur Highway. There are two major points from where you can take the boat.
Kumbhargaon – 10 km ahead of Bhigwan on Solapur Highway
Diksal – 6 km on BHigwan-Karjat state highway
The preferred way is to take your own or rented car. You can get bikes for rent from Pune as well.
By Rail – Daund is the nearest big station but not many options to reach Bhigwan from Daund. There are a few passenger trains stopping at Bhigwan stations as well.
Contacts (for boat and homestay)–
Mr Anant +91 77219 89622
Mr Rahul +91 70575 00602
Trip Cost –
Stay – ₹ 1000 (Homestays) – If you are coming from Mumbai or other places.
Boat Ride – ₹ 1200 per boat (approx 5-6 people may share boat)
Food – ₹ 100 (Breakfast with tea). If you are staying then homestays, your host can arrange for meals
Please carry a water bottle, binoculars, and camera along with an additional set of batteries and a memory card. If possible please avoid weekends and holidays as the place may get crowded.