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Situated in the Bhal region of Saurashtra in Gujarat, Velavadar has a unique grassland ecosystem. This is a rare grassland in India to be deemed a Blackbuck National Park. It is home to the elegant blackbuck which is endemic to India and Velavadar is one of its prime home territories. The main predators of the blackbucks in the park are the wolves and striped hyenas. The Blackbuck National Park is also popular among birdwatchers as it is home to several bird species. It is perhaps most famous as one of the best Harrier roosting sites in the world, as acknowledged by many experts.
Bhavnagar District, Gujarat, India
3 hours from Ahmedabad airport
October to March
WHAT TO SEE
Mammals: Blackbuck, Striped hyena, Indian wolf, Indian fox, Desert fox, Golden jackal, Jungle cat, Nilgai
Birds: McQueen bustard, common crane, sarus crane, lesser florican, white pelican, and Montagu, pallid and marsh harriers, white-eyed and long-legged buzzards, steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted eagles, imperial eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, short-toed snake eagle
Sprawling over an area of 35 sq. km, the Velavadar National Park lies between two rivers. It is believed that the fertile soils of this region have arisen from the sea. The Blackbuck National Park boasts of exclusive grassland habitat. The savannah type grasslands extend uniformly with dry thorny shrubs in certain areas. On average, the grasses grow about 30-45 cm tall.
The open grasslands of Velavadar are home to more than 1000 blackbucks. The blackbucks are shy and extremely graceful creatures and are the fastest of all Indian antelopes. The males have ringed horns that are up to 70 cm long. The horns are spirally twisted. On the other hand, females are light brown and usually lack horns.
The major predators in the Blackbuck National Park are wolves and jackals. The fox, jackal, jungle cat, wild pig, nilgai, the black-naped hare, and several rodents are the other mammals found in this region.
Velavadar is an extremely popular birdwatching destination. It is one of the largest harrier roosts in the world. The harriers mainly migrate to this region during the winter. Different species of the harrier can be spotted such as the Pale Harrier,Montagu’s harrier, Marsh Harrier, and the Hen Harrier. Other species of birds like the Sarus and Demoiselle Cranes, Painted and White Storks, the Spot-billed Duck, and the White Ibis are also found in the Blackbuck National Park. Lapwings can be spotted occasionally in this region. The Velavadar National Park is also home to five species of larks including the Sykes’ Lark. The Red-necked Falcon, Painted Francolin, rain quail, and flocks of Indian courser can also be found in the park. The Oriental Pratincole is often spotted whereas the Little Bustard Quail is seldom spotted.
Village Tour: Tourists can experience the lives of the villagers on a village tour near the Blackbuck National Park. It is a great opportunity to experience the rural culture of the village and observe the lifestyle of the local Bharwad community in their colorful attire. Tourists can watch a beautiful sunset with a piping hot cup of tea made from fresh cow milk.
Cycling: One of the best ways to explore the park at your own pace is by cycling. Soak in the beautiful moments that will stay for a lifetime. Tourists can also cycle through the village and interact with the locals. Witness the rural lifestyle of the villagers and gather first-hand experience of their beautiful culture.