Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary
Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Chhattisgarh is known for its lush green forest cover and a sizeable population of the common leopard and sloth bear. It is the state’s second most popular wildlife sanctuary established in 1976 under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary is relatively a small covering an area of 245 sq km.
The soft undulating terrain is covered with dense foliage. Mixed forests of tropical dry deciduous trees cover about half the forest area, while about one-fourth comprises teak forests. These are interspersed with grasslands, and sal and bamboo forest. supports diverse wildlife such as leopard, wild dog, sloth bear, jungle cat, small Indian civet, gaur, sambhar, chital, nilgai, wild boar, jackal, hyena and barking deer.
The sanctuary does not have any resident tiger population, but there is a presence of tigers as they migrate from one forest patch to another in the state. Due to absence of permanent tigers population, other species have flourished, and leopards, sloth bear and gaurs have benefited the most. Tourists come to this forest mostly to spot leopard, which is more elusive and harder to spot than the tiger in most other forests, but here, Barnawapara is one of the best places to photograph both leopard and sloth bear in central India.
Forest is a mix of flat and hilly terrain, and offers picturesque views of rivulets and streams flowing down the rolling hills into the flat lands to create water bodies that attract a large number of bird species. It is possible to see several species of parakeets, white-rumped vultures, lesser kestrels, peafowls, woodpeckers and flycatchers.
Like most reserves in Chhattisgarh, the tourism here is still in its nascent stage. There is none of the predictability that comes with organised tourism and therefore, sighting an animal promises to be a truly exciting experience.
Barnawapara is also close to archaeological site of Sirpur which is about 25 kms on north-western edge of the sanctuary.
The Jeep Safari is the best thing that one can experience in Barnawapara. The open Jeep ride, is usually of few hours in the reserve, where the chances of spotting a leopard and other wildlife is relatively high. The Jeep Safari timings are fixed by the forest administration.
Sirpur is an ancient town on the edge of Barnawapara sanctuary which became an important Buddhist centre between 6th and 10th century. Sirpur is mentioned in Hiuen Tsang’s travelogue, a 7th century Chinese pilgrim and scholar. In the recent excavations, archaeologists have uneathed a rich treasure of Buddhist temples and beautifully carved stone doors and panels. You can see colossal Buddha states that date back to the 6th century when Sirpur was a Buddhist hub. At other archaeological sites, nearly 200 Buddha vihars, statues of Jain Tirthankars and a Shiva temple have also been dug out. The 7th century Laxman temple (dedicated to lord Vishnu) of Sirpur is considered one of the finest brick temples of India with a stone doorframe.
Best time to visit
November – March