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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Entry Fees:
Rs 50 for adults
For School Kids in batch: Contact Mr. Rajendra Ovalekar
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: