This wonderful, exciting animal kingdom was once ruled by the Gond kings, and it got its name from a nag (snake) temple situated in the heart of the sanctuary. On the other hand, ‘Zira’ (zara) in Marathi means a perennial source of water. There is a stream that comes out of a hill in Pongezara, Nagzira. The Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is a lush green forest, surrounded by hilly slopes, which form a part of the Gaikhuri Hills of the southern Satpura range. The hills are inter-spersed with narrow plateaus and the eastern portion is pre-dominantly flatland. Dry, deciduous trees, grass and thorny plants abound here. Teak trees flourish on the hills and dense, good quality forest is found in pockets of deep moist soils in the valleys and along nullahs (streams). In the central portion of Nagzira, bamboo is found in abundance.

On the outer fringes, bamboo is absent or of poor quality, due to illicit cutting. Erosion has also taken place due to grazing in the area. This wildlife sanctuary is a living repository of various economical, medicinal, aromatic and ornamental plant species.

Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is a miraculously preserved green oasis covering 152sq km in the northeastern corner of Maharashtra. This small reserve has a great importance from a biodiversity and conservation point of view. It is an important corridor linking southern and central forested areas, such as the Tadoba Andhari and Kanha tiger reserves.

Nagzira is home to tigers, leopards, dholes, jungle cats, sloth bears, spotted hyenas, jackals, and herbivores such as gaurs, sambars, nilgais and chitals. An astonishing variety of butterflies and birds, reptiles and amphibians also flourish here.


It takes around three hours to reach Nagzira by road from Nagpur, while Gondia is just about an hour’s drive away. The sanctuary has eight entry gates – Nagzira, Kosamtondi, Murpar, Murdoli, Balapur, Pongezara, Mangezari and the Chorkhamara.

Entry Indians 50; Foreigners 100 Vehicle fee Car/Jeep 150; minibus 200 Guide 300

Safari Timings 6.00–11.00am and 3.00–6.00pm Closed 16 June to 30 September


The safari Gypsy slowly wound around a bend in the jungle track. Oblivious to the blazing sun and hot breeze, our eyes were glued to the dirt track, looking for pugmarks on both sides of the road. Suddenly, we saw them – the dholes! A family of 14, no less – gambolling around the solar water pumps and small artificial pond installed by the forest department. The older adults looked wary, but the younger ones trotted forward curiously. Stopping short of them, we eyed each other before they turned and loped away. Amazingly, further on, the dholes emerged again, unconcernedly padding along the jungle road. They were intent on the call of a sambar up ahead. Holding our breath, we admired these fierce little warriors, excited to be in such close proximity with predators who can hold the tiger at bay.

A female langur with her baby at Nagzira WLS
A female langur with her baby at Nagzira WLS
Alamy/ IndiaPicture

On the same trip mentioned above, while returning to the camp, we were lucky enough to come upon a large herd of gaur, browsing quietly on leaves and grass on both sides of the track. Three handsome young bulls crossed the road right in front of our vehicle. One of them faced us squarely with a penetrating stare – an arresting picture, on which we gazed mesmerized. As dusk began to fall, a wild boar mother and her little piglets scuttled away from the road to join up with a very large sounder of wild boar converging on a waterhole – at least 20 of them.

And the icing on the jungle cake! A stunningly beautiful male leopard at a waterhole, barely five minutes away from the jungle camp – crouching low, lapping water, eyeing us warily, then shrinking away through the foliage, only to emerge and cross the road behind us.

A herd of gaur grazed peacefully on hilly tracts early in the morning and at dusk. Herds of chital could be seen grazing by day on the flat meadows, surrounding Nagzira lake. Nilgai and barking deer enjoying the grass and shrubs on the outskirts and the sloth bears enjoying the fruit trees and huge termite mounds, honey and mahua flowers.

The prey base is ample enough to keep the apex predators happy and Nagzira is home to many tigers. The most famous tiger in recent years, Jai, was born and lived here before moving on to new territory.

Nagzira is also a birdwatchers’ paradise. There are about 166 species of birds, including migratory birds. Cormorant, egret, heron, stork and the black-winged kite are sighted regularly. Other birds frequently seen are peafowl, the grey jungle fowl and the red spur fowl.

Thirty-six species of reptiles, and 45 species of amphibia thrive here. Rock pythons, dhaman, the Indian cobra, and the common monitor have made these forests their home. Forty-nine species of butterfly belonging to nine families flit here, including the common sailor and the lime butterfly

For those looking for extras, there’s also an Interpretation Centre and Museum in Nagzira Tourist Complex. The museum with a variety of stuffed birds, wildlife photos and plaster casts of pugmarks, is still in its infancy. Watchtowers are situated at Nagzira hill, Nagzira lake, Nagzira well, and Chital Road.


Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra provides clean and comfortable guesthouses within the forest. Lata Kunj and Madhu Kunj have two suites each, costing 1,000 per room. Tents are also available (Tariff: 1,000). A canteen within the reserve takes care of your meals. For bookings, contact the Divisional Manager, FDCM, Bhandara (Tel: 07184-252406). Bookings can be made at W Amongst the private resorts, Nagzira Tiger Resort (Cell: 09673387561; Tariff: 2,700–3,500, with meals) near Chorkhamara Gate has clean rooms and good food. Also in the same area is Nagzira Nature Camp (Cell: 08380871850, 085549 76873, 09657335277, 09167036314; Tariff: 6,000–7,000, with meals) has rooms and tents. Muba Jungle Camp (Cell: 09303037453, 097706-23046; Tariff: 5,500, with meals) is close to the Pitezari Gate. Safaris and trekking with an in-house naturalist can be arranged.


Air Nearest airport: Nagpur (122km/ 3hrs). Taxi costs approx 1,500–2,000

Rail Nearest railhead: Gondia Railway Station (50km/ 1hr). Taxi costs approx 700–1,200. Buses also available upto Sakoli

Road It is a 3-hour-drive from Nagpur on NH6 upto Sakoli that takes you to Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary.

Bus The nearest bus stand is at Sakoli, 22km away from the park. ST buses from Nagpur, Gondia and Bhandara ply upto Sakoli. From here, take a taxi to the Park. Taxi costs about Rs. 500


When to go February to May is the best time, although the sanctuary is open from October to June. It is closed during the monsoon

Tourist/ Wildlife offices



Tel: 022-22044040, 22845678

Chief Conservator of Forests

Navegaon-Nagzira WLS

Balaghat Road


Tel: 07182-251232, 251250

Divisional Manager

Forest Development Corporation

of Maharashtra

Forest Project DivisionNagzira Wildlife Sanctuary

BhandaraTel: 07184-252406


STD code Gondia 07182, Bhandara 07184

State Maharashtra

Location In Gondia and Bhandara districts

Distance 122km E of Nagpur

Route from Nagpur NH6 to Sakoli via Bhandara; state road to Nagzira