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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Tigers and Spiders, Crocs and Turtles - at the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary

I first heard of the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary from Lakshmi and Deepak, when I asked them for offbeat suggestions for my Goa trip. They gave me identical replies - "Take Samhith to the zoo at the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. He will enjoy it." Normally, I am less than enthusiastic about visiting zoos (the Mysore zoo is the only exception!), but when two blogger friends I think highly of, recommend the same place, I take their advice! As it turned out, we missed our route, and had to take a very long detour to reach the place, but I stuck my ground, in spite of the driver grumbling about how there was nothing to see there.

At first glance, it appeared as if our driver was indeed right. The first couple of enclosures, with a sleepy porcupine hiding from the afternoon sun, and a palm civet fast asleep were nothing to write about.

Then, we came to the Sloth Bear, who had a whole enclosure to himself… and he walked around all the time, looking at us just as curiously as we were looking at him. Yes, it did help that we were the only visitors around, but our enthusiasm only increased from then!

The Leopard glared at us through his cage, as he paced to and fro...

The Tiger sat royally in his enclosure, which, for once, was really big enough! Can you spot him here?

Take a closer look now.

Even while I was busy trying to click a good photo of our National Animal, Samhith was busy elsewhere, having spotted a Giant Wood Spider! Spiders always trump Tigers, at least in his book!!

There are quite a lot of animals here, but I didn't click all of them, and am only posting some of the photos I did click, in an effort to keep this post short. However, there are a couple more photos I have to show you….. This was at the Crocodile enclosure. What do you see? Two crocs fast asleep? Look closer…..

Can you see the Turtle?

This was Samhith’s work again, spotting this interesting friendship! One that now is our most enduring memory of the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary! Thank you, Lakshmi and Deepak, for suggesting I go there!!


  • The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is the smallest of the three sanctuaries in Goa, and is located about 35 Km from Madgaon and 52 Km from Panaji. The main attraction here is the zoo, though there is also a botanical garden here. There are also a few eco-tourism cottages built here, and bookings can be made through the Goa Forest Department. 
  • Suggestions
    • We made a day trip from Goa, combining a visit to the sanctuary with the Tambdi Surla Temple, the Shantadurga Temple and the Mangeshi Temple. However, staying here might allow you to explore the area a bit more, through the treks the Forest department conducts here. I was unfortunately unable to gather any more information about them, since the office was deserted when we visited.
    • I also read that a number of stone carvings were found here when the sanctuary was being developed. It is believed that these may have been hidden here in the forest to preserve them from destruction by the Portuguese. We didn’t see any of them, but we only explored a small portion of the sanctuary, so if you visit, keep your eyes open!


  1. Really nice :)
    I especially liked the turtle and the croc!

    1. Thank you, Varsha. Such sights are really rare, aren't they?

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Niranjan. You can go here the next time you are in Goa :-)

  3. I really liked the pictures and the flowing narration, Anu! I have unfortunately been to Goa just once for the International Film Festival of India in 2012 for barely three days. This is another place I'm adding in my to-do list in Goa. Dudhsagar Waterfalls is another place which I strongly recommend.

    1. Thank you, Akshay! and we were there this time for just two days :D though I have been there thrice, each has been a short visit, so I am sort of discovering the place bit by bit. and as i said, i only went to this zoo because both my friends recommended it/ as it turned out, it was a good choice :) and i havent been to dudhsagar yet, tho am sure that time will come too.

  4. Place looks interesting!! Thanks for sharing.
    Will include this place along with Tambdi Surla Temple.

    1. you are welcome, Aravind! Hope you get to go soon and looking forward to reading all about it!

  5. Some time it turn around to be more than u expected .... seems a wonderful peaceful place and off course very much different from the normal zoo - Beautiful photograph too :)

    1. Thank you, Sharmila. As zoos go, it isnt really great. it is simply our interesting experience!

  6. nice one:
    Try to visit mysore zoo again mam if you can, they have changed few things in past few months, it is even beautiful now, enriching of enclosure, completed the fountain etc.

    1. I definitely hope to visit Mysore again, someday. lets hope they continue to maintain it.

  7. any idea about the minimum expected time required to watch all sections of animals n plants ??

    1. That depends on you, Prathamesh! You can complete the whole place in an hour, and also spend more than 4 hours in there! depends on what you want to see and how much you enjoy what it is that you see!!

  8. Awesome post!
    Thanks for sharing..


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