Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary at Vasai, A green belt located at Vasai East is a great option for nature walk, monsoon trials as it has a beautiful temple of lord Shiva and waterfalls not far from National Highway at distance of 59 Km from Mumbai city.
Frequented as Monsoon destination and an ideal location for a day picnic in woods and scenic nature, Two main attractions of Tungareshwar in rainy days are the Waterfalls and a temple of Lord Shiva which is deep inside hilly trek of forest area.
Lets understand this holy place cum monsoon picnic spot in more details, 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 National park. The forest area is 85.70 square kilometre under Law and Forest act 1972 applicable, So please don’t harm any animals or living creature in the area.
Tungareshwar Waterfalls and Trial
As rain arrives in city in mid of June and sometime 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 family with people in middle age group. Youngsters prefer getting into medium and larger waterfalls, while kids and elderly prefers to enjoy at corner with flowing water and less slippery near Shiva temple, at extreme end of Tungareshwar.
Since Tungareshwar is 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 entry point. Enjoying the trek itself is very interesting and not preferred in other 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 temple ride costing Rs.50 each if you are tired of walking towards temple or same while returning.
Near entry gate and along the pathway enjoy the yummy green raw mango (Kacchi Kairi), Sweet Corn, Tamarind, Cucumber with chilli and salt. These sellers are local villagers, seen on the way couple of time till we reach the Shiva temple. Try, not to bargain and pay happily as the experience is much joyful with these stuff munching.
Things to be taken care here is the travel timings, first aid box, food and water etc. There is no wash rooms inside, So do the needful at the entry gate wash room or inside the 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 their are no street lights etc and its absolute dark after. Day time is very safe all around till the temple area and along the trials parallel to waterfalls.
Trek, Trials and the Beautiful Streams Along
Trust me excitement is on the trial trek. Apart from waterfalls, their are 2 main water streams flowing from the forest area which connects these waterfalls along the trial.
These streams are safer during initial monsoon days and needs to be crossed without any support options as the picture of a picnic group enjoying here tells about the fun and natures 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 sides.
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 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 care takers and officials so that they can use the same and carry goods and daily needs for temple and accommodation area.
Using this rope bridge needs some skill, So ignore the same and cross another stream which is knee deep only.
At a point inside, Along the these 3 Km walkway of Gidrai Pada village (Inside Forest) comes an Ashram called ‘Chakachak Ashram’ with the name written in Marathi language “Shri Siddha Baba Pushkar Dasji Nirvaran Udasin”.
This Ashram has a small temple with Shiva linga and a cow shed. 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 temple area (Not sure, But this entry fees stuff started lately after 2007/2008).
Updates as of December 2016 : Charges / Entry fees has 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 lush greenery of Monsoon, One can find birds like the blue colour beauty of black naped monarch, crested honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) which looks much like eagle, few river tern (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 are Blue pansy, Common crow, Blue Pansy and may be 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 few more as as seen are Wasps, Damselflies, Orb Weavers, Caterpillars, Dragonflies, Pagoda Ants, Tailor birds etc
Summers turns 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 sanctury / national park is the temple of Lord Shiva (Shambhunath) which as said is about 3 to 4 kilometre 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.
Along side the Lord Shiva temple, A small temple of Goddess ‘Khodiyaar Mataji’ (With her vehicle crocodile) as 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 jungle area are Monkey. All seen along the trail path with their little babies till you reach the temple surroundings. Beware of this monkeys if you are carrying plastic bags, They do grab away these bags thinking about food inside nad you may loose you costly camera etc inside.
Talking about daily rituals 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 trial starts at an entrance gate on left side of Highway towards Mumbai (Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway).
Their is no bus facilities but shared and private auto’s from Vasai Railway Station (East side). Private cars can reach till 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 near Vasai Phata, Sativali Village. The entry point is on opposite side of the road below a flyover so keep a note of 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) is 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 system in Vasai Virar locations.
Buses to Tungareshwar
No Bus Facilities available here.
Although temple and waterfalls are major attractions here in Monsoon, Devotees from far area do visit and plans to take halt overnight during festive season like Mahashivratri and Khodiyar Jayanti.
Temple authorities have arrangements of around 7 to 8 simple rooms near 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 a overnight stay at Tungareshwar forest area. Temple Contact number is +91-9860531514, Hope the number works and has not changed.
See Also : Chinchoti Waterfalls.