Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary at Vasai, A green belt located at Vasai East is a great option for nature walks, monsoon trials as it has a beautiful temple of Lord Shiva and waterfalls not far from the National Highway at a distance of 59 Km from Mumbai city.
Frequented as a Monsoon destination and an ideal location for a day picnic in woods and scenic nature, Two main attractions of Tungareshwar on rainy days are the Waterfalls and a temple of Lord Shiva which is deep inside hilly trek of forest area.
Let’s understand this holy place cum monsoon picnic spot in more detail, A beautiful place for photography with Birds, Reptiles and Insects, and other flora fauna in the green, enjoying the same nature and waterfalls as we humans do.
Around 24th October 2003, the area is declared as Tungareshwar Forest Park, Part of the National park. The forest area is 85.70 square kilometers under Law and Forest act 1972 applicable, So please don’t harm any animals or living creatures in the area.
Waterfalls and Trial
As rain arrives in the city in mid of June and sometimes early, People in Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai eagerly waits to explore various monsoon spots, Specially Dams and waterfalls which are safe enough for a day-long fun with family and friends in and near Mumbai.
Waterfalls in this area are small to medium, surrounded with greenery and seasonal birds, safe enough if explored with caution by kids/children with a family with people in the middle age group. Youngsters prefer getting into medium and larger waterfalls, while kids and elderly prefer to enjoy at the corner with flowing water and less slippery near Shiva temple, at extreme end of Tungareshwar.
Since Tungareshwar is a hilly mountain area with a 3 Kilometre muddy trek, The walking trail can take anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes starting at Sativali village entry gate, Near Vasai Phata Highway.
This Tungareshwar entry point is also called ‘Sitaram Bapu Temple’. The fun of a day spent in monsoon starting with some cutting chai and bhajiyas at the entry point. Enjoying the trek itself is very interesting and not preferred in another mode of commuting like Auto, Car or bike even if options are available or till extreme required. Remember, not all type vehicle can survive the rocky path, at least cars with low ground clearance is a must NO inside.
As said, Few regular Auto’s who reaches inside crossing streams (Detailed below) may ask you for a temple ride costing Rs.50 each if you are tired of walking towards the temple or the same while returning.
Near the entry gate and along the pathway enjoy the yummy green raw mango (Kacchi Kairi), Sweet Corn, Tamarind, Cucumber with chili and salt. These sellers are local villagers, seen on the way a couple of times till we reach the Shiva temple. Try, not to bargain and pay happily as the experience is much joyful with this stuff munching.
Things to be taken care of here are the travel timings, first aid box, food, and water, etc. There are no wash rooms inside, Possible available washroom is at the entry gate or anything options available around the main Shiva temple premise.
Most crucial is the timings to hang around this National park area, as it is also home to few wild animals. So it is preferred to explore this Jungle area in day time only before it is dark. Leave the waterfall and dense green zone by 5:30.
Another reason to leave early is that there are no street lights etc and it’s absolutely dark after. Daytime is very safe all around till the temple area and along with the trails parallel to waterfalls.
Trek, Trials and the Beautiful Streams Along
Trust my excitement is on the trail trek. Apart from waterfalls, there are 2 main water streams flowing from the forest area which connects these waterfalls along the trail.
These streams are safer during initial monsoon days and need to be crossed without any support options as the picture of a picnic group enjoying here tells about the fun and nature’s experience. Both streams have fresh and crystal clear cold water with rounded small to medium stones and few pebbles around the muddy corners on either side.
The first stream that comes is just ankle-deep and kids will not resist here to explore and get all the fun out of it. Another one is Knee deep during monsoon days. During heavy rainfalls i.e between June and July mostly, the second stream is a bit unsafe for kids and elderly to be crossed alone.
As an alternative, A small crossing bridge made up of ropes along the stream has been set up for temple caretakers and officials so that they can use the same and carry goods and daily needs for the temple and accommodation area.
Using this rope bridge needs some skill, So ignore the same and cross another stream that is knee-deep only.
At a point inside, Along this 3 Km walkway of Gidrai Pada village (Inside Forest) comes to an Ashram called ‘Chakachak Ashram’ with the name written in the Marathi language “Shri Siddha Baba Pushkar Dasji Nirvaran Udasin”.
This Ashram has a small temple with Shiva linga and a cowshed. Previously there was a check post ahead and Officials used to charge Rs.20 for Adults and Rs.15 for kids as an entry fee towards the temple area (Not sure, But this entry fees stuff started lately after 2007/2008).
Updates as of December 2016: Charges / Entry fees have been finally removed, So the also called ‘Tungareshwar Bird Century’ is totally free to explore with rules set to be obeyed. Baggage checking is done at this check post, no alcohol, etc is allowed further.
Flora and Fauna at Tungareshwar
About 30 minutes to 45 minutes rocky trial to the Shiva temple inside Tungareshwar forest, One can observe the flora and fauna along the pathway. Butterflies, Insects on bare-branched trees in summer, and more of the species in the lush greenery of Monsoon, One can find birds like the blue color beauty of black-naped monarch, crested honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) which looks much like the eagle, few river terns (Sterna aurantia) and few greater coucal along the riverbed.
Small insects, ants, and bees are also seen along with butterflies all around. Talking about few species of butterflies as seen is Blue pansy, Common crow, Blue Pansy and maybe many more as one explores more inside the trial. Common trees at glance are Ghost, Teak, Sand Paper, and Orchid can be seen near dry streams or flowing during monsoon. To name a few more as seen are Wasps, Damselflies, Orb Weavers, Caterpillars, Dragonflies, Pagoda Ants, Tailor birds, etc.
Summers turn the greenery to yellow with dry plants and trees. The streams and waterfalls are unseen till next rain and the dry belt of waterfalls parallel to trial displays huge rocks, Some still wet with underlying tiny water flowing beneath.
Lord Shiva Temple
At the extreme end inside the dense forest of Tungareshwar bird sanctuary / national park is the temple of Lord Shiva (Shambhunath) which as said is about 3 to 4 kilometers from Vasai Phata (Tungareshwar Entry Gate), National Highway 8.
This medium-sized temple also have Ram Kund on backside area (Kunds are human made small water bodies, See Video of Brahma kund at Juhu) to get an idea.
Alongside the Lord Shiva temple, A small temple of Goddess ‘Khodiyaar Mataji’ (With her vehicle crocodile) is seen in major pictures of this goddess.
Being said about God and Goddess, Tungareshwar attracts devotees who visit both these temples at special occasions and festive seasons like ‘Khodiyaar Jayanti’ which comes in around February and ‘Maha Shivratri’ in Shravana Months as Hindu calendar, falling between July and August every year.
So this monsoon destination is also visited by devotees and trial groups in Summer and Winter too.
Another companion for humans in such a jungle area is Monkey. All seen along the trail path with their little babies till you reach the temple surroundings. Beware of these monkeys if you are carrying plastic bags, They do grab away these bags thinking about the food inside and you may lose your costly camera, etc inside.
Talking about daily ritual timings at Tungareshwar temple, Aarti is done twice, Morning timings are 5:00 AM and 9:00 Am. Naivedya timings are 12:00 in Noon and Evening Aarti is performed at 6:00 Pm after which priest will request all devotees and picnic groups to leave the temple and forest location as it gets dark.
Map For Reference
Distance from Mumbai
Tungareshwar Temple and Waterfalls is about 60 Kilometres from Mumbai in Thane District. It starts at National Highway 8 which can take about 1 hour and 40 minutes time to reach.
3 Kilometre from Vasai Phata Highway (Sativali Village), The trail starts at an entrance gate on the left side of the Highway towards Mumbai (Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway).
There are no bus facilities but shared and private auto’s from Vasai Railway Station (East side). Private cars can reach a point you feel safe and then walking and enjoying the trek is much preferred. Vasai station is on Western Railway Route, About an Hour train journey from Andheri suburbs. See Station Names for reference.
From Railway station, Tungareshwar is about 8 Km.
Reaching by Car
If coming from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai Or Thane area go straight towards Vasai Virar on NH8 and reach Vasai Phata, Sativali Village. The entry point is on the opposite side of the road below a flyover so keep a note of the same.
If by mistake you crossed the location you will see Toyota and Honda Showrooms on left and need to take a U-turn again. Cars with good enough ground clearance can reach till temple inside during low rainfall. Cars with good enough ground clearance (Like Scorpio, Innova, etc) are reliable during monsoon as the pathway has small rocky streams as detailed above.
By Auto From Vasai
About 8 Kilometres from Railway Station (East), Share and Private auto’s ply till Tungareshwar entry gate costing Rs.30 to Rs.35 per head in share auto and around Rs.150 in Private (Price may vary from time to time).
Auto’s do not ply on regular meter systems in Vasai Virar locations.
Buses to Tungareshwar
No Bus Facilities available here.
Although temples and waterfalls are major attractions here in Monsoon, Devotees from far areas do visit and plans to take halt overnight during festive seasons like Mahashivratri and Khodiyar Jayanti.
Temple authorities have arrangements of around 7 to 8 simple rooms near the temple area for overnight stay. Charges for same are Rs.100 per room for overnight stay (24 Hours). Cooking facilities are also available and utensils for same are charges Rs.50 extra which can be used by you for cooking at separate kitchen area outside rooms.
It is highly recommended to carry enough food and drinking water for a day or even overnight stay (If planned). Kindly note that very rarely and only during festive seasons do someone plans an overnight stay at the Tungareshwar forest area. Temple Contact number is +91-0000000000 (Number Has Changed, new Contact not Available).
See Also : Chinchoti Waterfalls.