The fun part about living in Maharashtra is that one can get the best of every world. The state has beautiful mountains with old forts and many trekking routes. It also has a long coastline and pristine beaches to boast. The best urban comforts are available in the cities and for those who need a breather, Maharashtra is home to some of the most precious wilderness areas in the country. With a self drive car rental app, planning a trip has become quite convenient and affordable. Here are some recommended road trips from Pune for those who love wildlife and want to get up close.
Tadoba National Park is considered by many wildlife experts, one of the best places to sight tigers. It is the largest and also the oldest protected range in the state of Maharashtra, well connected to the major cities. The 750-km trip from Pune is one of epic proportions, where curious travellers can also enjoy stops at iconic locations like Aurangabad, famous for its Mughal era architecture. The National Park is home to a variety of landscapes, dominated by thick teak forests and providing a home to India’s flagship species like tigers, leopards, and crocodiles. Close to 70 Bengal tigers have been recorded in the core area of the Park – signs of a healthy population supported by a rich ecosystem. Jeep safaris are conducted in the early mornings and in the late afternoons. Photographers enjoy the environs of Tadoba – its leafy teak forests and bamboo lined streams provide a primeval stage for predators stalking. By the time the last expeditions return home in the fading light of dusk, the sounds of the forest take over the night – an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves the thrill of being in the wild.
Pench National park spreads across Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and provided the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s immortal story – The Jungle Book. Relive those quintessential scenes of the Indian forest in real life with a morning safari into the dense woods. The tiger, of course, remains the main star of this diverse stage. Other animals found here include nilgai and sambar deer, sloth bears and the Indian wolf. The elusive leopard also prowls these sprawling forests, sighting one is always a memorable experience. The canopies and wetlands provide habitat for a range of bird species, both endemic and migratory. Some of the famous feathered residents of Pench National Park are barbets, bulbuls, mynas and blue kingfishers.
Pench National Park opens up post monsoon, and October is a favourite for nature photographers. The 800-km journey across the heart of Maharashtra is a wonderful visual and cultural experience in itself – best done in the comforts of a rental SUV. Stops along the way include Nagpur, the third major city of Maharashtra and home to landmarks such as the Ramtek Fort Temple and the Shukrawari Lake.
Karnala Bird Sanctuary
Those looking for shorter commute can head over to Karnala Bird Sanctuary, a pocket-sized reserve that is brimming with bio-diversity and heritage. Highlights here include the remains of the Karnala Fort which has a multi-layered history in its more than 700 years of existence.
The hill-top structure offers a vantage point to observe the surrounding wilderness. One can explore the ruins, a mystical blend of massive stone ramparts and the inevitable takeover of nature. There was a time when this fort was a trade hub – connecting the coastal settlements with the rugged interiors of what is today Maharashtra.
The area is prime hiking territory and bird watchers come here to observe species like the ashy minivet, Malabar trogon and Rufus-bellied Eagle amongst myriad others. The Sanctuary is also home to rare butterflies. With the monsoons receding and dry winters just around the corner – the main bird-watching and hiking season has just begun in Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Pune to Karnala Bird Sanctuary is a scenic 120-km drive along mountain highways and some of the interesting stops include the hill towns of Lonavala and Matheran.
Informed travellers who do not want to compromise on privacy and comfort while balancing costs are choosing to pick a car on rent in Pune rather than going for regular cabs. The self drive option allows them to take stops and make impromptu detours as they wish – adding more to the travel experience. Companies like Zoomcar provide assurances like 24/7 on-road support and a wide range of the latest vehicles, providing a perfect ride for adventure and discovery.