Ovalekarwadi – Mumbai’s Prized Butterfly Park

Wanderer

Wanderer

It just took few seconds, for the colorful Red Pierrot to emerge out of its little pupa, and there we were witnessing a very amazing phenomenon, rare to the city dwellers like us. Mr. Rajendra Ovalekar, had specially collected few pupas of varying age, in a small box, to demonstrate the phenomenon, while Mr. Issac Kehimkar, of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) enlightened us about the lifecycle of this species of butterfly.

This was Ovalekarwadi Butterfly Garden, situated at the fringe of the concrete forest in Thane. A narrow lane, off Ghodbunder road, winding through the Owla village reveals this open air garden, spreading over 2 acres of land. Named after its owner, Rajendra Ovalekar, this is home to a wide variety of butterflies, some of which have even migrated several hundred kilometers to breed here. The Ovalekar family had owned this piece of land since long, but, the butterfly park was set up in 2004, with the help of Mr. Issac Kehimkar, who himself is an expert and has authored several bestselling books on butterflies.

The Great Orange Tip
The Great Orange Tip

On a good day, you can see various species of butterflies including the Great Orange Tips, Red Pierrots, Wanderers, Jays, Dark Blue Tigers, Plain or striped Tigers, Brown King Crows and host of others. It doesn’t matter, if you cannot identify these butterflies by yourself, as Rajendra, is humble enough to accompany his guests and show them around. The best time to visit the garden is during the warmer months of March through April and October says Rajendra, since the butterflies are more active during these months of the year. It might be tricky to spot a pupa or a caterpillar, and you will have to look carefully under the leaves or branches to spot them. On the day of our visit, we were lucky enough, to spot a mating Red Pierrot with ample time to photograph the rare sight.

Mating Red Pierrot

Mating Red Pierrot

Unlike many other well known butterfly parks of India, where butterflies are bred under controlled environment, Ovelkarwadi is an open air garden. The secret lies in the  combination of ‘Nectar’ and the ‘Host’ Plants, reveals Rajendra, on being questioned further on the nectar and the host plants, Rajendra informs, that there are certain plants, which attract the butterflies with their nectar, but do not essentially host them, whereas, there are certain other plants which are conducive for their mating and laying eggs. Every kind of butterfly has its own preference of nectar and host plants. Rajendra, under the guidance of Issac, had been collecting the seeds of these nectar and host plants,  which led to development of this prized sanctuary. There are also some makeshift feeding arrangements, with rotten fruits to make the places conducive to the butterflies. The alcohol of these rotting fruits is said to be to be relished by the butterflies.

Dark Blue Tiger

Dark Blue Tiger

There are certain interesting habits about the butterflies, which might be worth knowing, like mud puddling, migration and amazing ways of self-defense. For example, some have developed incredible camouflaging capabilities (e.g. Oakleaf, Chocolate Pansy) while, some protect themselves, from predatory birds, by feeding on poisonous plants, which make them inedible. Issac and Rajendra can unfold several such interesting facts if shown interests. The overall experience of visiting the garden can be very enriching and is certainly refreshing.

Plain Tiger

Plain Tiger

Rajendra Ovalekar

Contact Details:
Mobile: +919820779729
Website: http://www.ovalekarwadi.co.nr/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/OvalekarWadiButterflyGarden

How to Reach:
Owla Village is around 12 Kms from Thane Station of Ghodbunder Road. The nearest land mark is the Hypercity Mall

  • Garden Timings:
    The Garden is open to Public from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm only on Sundays

    Red Pierrot's Egg

    Red Pierrot’s Egg

  • Entry Fees:
    Rs 50 for adults
    For School Kids in batch: Contact Mr. Rajendra Ovalekar
  • Tips:
    Carry a cap to protect yourself from the sun
    If you are photographer, you would require either a 90- 100 mm Macro lens or a 200 mm Tele photo-lens
    Water and Breakfast Arrangements can be done by Rajendra on prior requests.
  • Ideal For:
    Macro Photographers
    Nature Lovers
    School Children
    Zoology Students
Mating Red Pierrot

Mating Red Pierrot

Chocolate Pansey
Chocolate Pansy

About Arindam

I'm still discovering myself. I wouldn't say its an identity crisis but my quest for the real myself has been getting deeper and interesting with time, travels and more people I come across. I consider myself to be among the few with esoteric tastes. I enjoy music of a broad genre and like discussing history and cultures of different countries. I Like trekking, long drives, reading and writing. Photography has been a passion and now i strictly concentrate on travel photography. I think there is no joy, like the joy of witnessing a new sunrise on a new horizon everyday of your life and in pursuit of it, if life permits, I would surely become a vagabond travelling through out the world. My travels have made me realize that one half of the world doesn't know how the other half is living. My work a small endeavor to bring both the halves together. Happy travelling!
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2 Responses to Ovalekarwadi – Mumbai’s Prized Butterfly Park

  1. Arindam, a very well compiled and informative write up. Lovely pics, courtesy your patience and perseverence.

    Good work !

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