The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is sprawled over an area of 100 sq km and is situated at a lofty height ranging from 2,100 ft to 3,800 ft within the village of Bhimashankar. It lies nestled in the verdant Sahayadri Ranges and covered by lush greenery on all sides.
Few of the most endangered species can be found in this sanctuary like the Shekru and the Giant Indian Squirrel. Hyenas, Flying squirrels, Barking Deer, Leopards, Porcupines and Wild Boars are amongst other animals that are found here.
The Malabar Whistling Thrush, the Green Pigeon, the Quaker Babbler, the Malabar Grey Hornbill and the Grey Jungle Fowl are a few of the many birds that can be found here that are sure to delight bird watchers and nature lovers.
The sanctuary is especially worth visiting during the monsoon rains. There is a vast variety of flora found here, ranging from magical herbs to plants and trees.
The Bhimashankar Temple, located in the village of Bhimashankar, is also referred to as the Holy Jyotirlinga and is an exquisite temple built in dedication of Lord Shiva. Constructed by Nana Phadnavis, this temple belongs to a group of five Jyortilingas found in the state of Maharashtra, and twelve Jyotirlingas in the country.
Legend has it that when Lord Shiva resided in the Sahayadri Hills, he had taken the form of Bhima and killed the Rakshas Tripurasura. It is said that after the battle, the sweat of the Lord became the holy Bhima river.
The Holy Jyotirlinga follows a Nagra style of architecture. It houses manuscripts dating back to the 13th Century. The premises hold a small Shani Temple within it, along side a huge bell that portrays the Hemandpathi style of architecture.
This religious site is not only famous amongst worshippers and devotees but also amongst bird watchers and trekkers. The temple precincts get especially crowded during the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri.
The Hanuman Lake is a scenic tourist spot in Bhimashankar that makes for an ideal picnic spot to spend a lovely evening with your family. One of the popular tourist attractions in Bhimashankar, the Hanuman Lake is home to several different species of birds and squirrels that frequent the lake. There also lies a prominent waterfall nearby that continues to delight its visitors.
The Manmod Hills, located at an altitude of a 1000 m, has numerous rocks that have ancient illustrious carvings and inscriptions on them. It is placed in the region of Bhimashankar.
Many of these carvings relate to the Holy Jyotirlinga – the Bhimashankar Temple – along with other inscriptions like the Bhootlingam and the Amba-Ambika. All these carvings bear a strong resemblance to traditional Buddhist styles. The Nagfani and Gupt Bhimashankar are other areas nearby that are worth checking out.