Monsoon, the season of plenty ,brings in lots of bounty and during this time one can experience nature at its best. The best place in India to experience this melodrama is of course, the Western Ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. The Western Ghats region of Maharashtra also known as ‘Sahyadri’, although least explored, has assemblage of unique habitats with rich diversity of flora and fauna. Because of the exceptional biological and aesthetic values, recently some of these habitats were declared as World Heritage Sites.
There are four serially nominated World heritage Sites in Maharashtra. One of them is Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary , a place worth exploring, not only in monsoon but in all seasons. This pristine, lush green, undulating landscape with steep valleys is situated about 80 KM West of Kolhapur city in Maharashtra. Prior to independence, Maharaja of Kolhapur, Chhatrapati Shahu reserved this forest mainly for hunting and he also constructed a dam on river Bhogawati near Radhanagari which is a vital water source for Kolhapur region. His farsightedness resulted in the conservation of this pristine landscape and wildlife therein. In 1958 part of this forest was declared as ‘Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary’, the first wildlife protected area in Maharashtra. In 1985 the entire catchment areas of Radhanagari dam and newly constructed Kalammawadi dam were added and it was notified as ‘Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary’ covering an area of around 351.16 sq. km.
The forest is predominantly semi-evergreen with undisturbed and thick evergreen patches, locally called ‘dang’. Notable among these are ‘Kala dang’ and ‘Patyacha dang’. Apart from this, there are many open grasslands inside the forest, which are grazing grounds for herbivores in this sanctuary. Most unique features of this landscape is the presence of large, exposed, lateritic plateaus, locally called ‘Sada’. These unique geological formations are seen mostly on top of the mountains and are flat with scanty vegetation in summer but they metamorphose into a picturesque landscape during monsoon. A visit to such plateaus like Idarganj sada and Savrai sada during late monsoon is a mesmerizing experience as they are covered with carpet of colorful flowers.