Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary | Nature inFocus

Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary

The reservoir of the Gandhi Sagar Dam has transformed a sparsely vegetated landscape into a haven for mammal and bird species

Ajay Gadikar

Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary

Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in northwestern Madhya Pradesh, with one of its boundaries running along the border of Rajasthan. The sanctuary was notified in 1974 and is spread over an area of Its vast expanse lies within the Mandsaur and Neemuch districts of Madhya Pradesh. River Chambal flows through the sanctuary, dividing it into two parts.

A major part of the sanctuary consists of vast open landscapes with sparse vegetation and rocky terrain, with small patches of dense forests here and there. The principal tree species found in the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary are Khair, Salai, Kardhai, Dhawda, Tendu, Palash and the like.

Herbivores like Chinkara, Nilgai and Spotted Deer, and carnivores like the Indian Leopard, Striped Hyena and Jackal are found in good numbers in the region. The reservoir also has a good population of crocodiles, fish, otters and turtles. Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and the reservoir is also a designated Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) as it boasts a large bird diversity with healthy populations.

The sanctuary has attracted more attention after being chosen as a favourable site for the reintroduction of cheetahs in India. Gandhi Sagar has vast open spaces and grasslands interspersed with scrubs, which is the ideal landscape for the cheetah. There is a continuous process of translocating the Spotted Deer from other forest areas to augment the prey base here.

Plan Your Trip

Getting There


Indore is the nearest airport, which is approximately 275km away.


Bhawanimandi (53km), Jhalawar (53km) and Shamgarh (85km) are the closest railheads.


Mandsaur, Neemuch and Kota are the nearest cities, all within a range of 100-130km. There are two gateways to reach Gandhi Sagar, Rampura and Bhanpura, which lie on either side of the dam.

Best Time To Visit


Monsoon is a great time to visit Gandhi Sagar. The dam, when its gates are open, is a sight to behold! Numerous smaller waterfalls also form during the rainy season.


Winter is the best time to visit Gandhi Sagar. During these months, the climate remains pleasant, and it is easy to explore the region. It is also the perfect time for birdwatching.


The summer months are harsh at the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary. Water scarcity sees animals congregating near water bodies, increasing the chances of good wildlife sightings.


The construction of the Gandhi Sagar Dam in 1960 saw a vast region submerged in its backwaters and was the reason for carving out this sanctuary. The dam was responsible for adding a new dimension to the region's topography.

The sanctuary also houses sites of great historical and archaeological significance and is a perfect getaway for the weekend tourist.


Madhya Pradesh Tourism runs a very scenic property with a large garden that looks out at the Gandhi Sagar backwaters. Situated atop a hillock, MPT Hinglaj Resort has more than 10 A/C rooms. The charges are reasonable and there is even a working restaurant that will cater to your gastro requirements. The MPT Hinglaj Resort is located on the Gandhisagar-Bhanpura Road, about 7km from Gandhi Sagar. Prices start from ₹3,500 onwards.

The forest rest house at Rampur Pathar has two rooms with basic amenities. You can make a booking by contacting the Mandsaur DFO.


See | Do

  • The most exciting and entertaining thing to do is a boat safari along River Chambal, where one can see plenty of bird and mammal species.
  • The cliffs towering along the river are nesting sites for the Indian Vulture and large colonies of Cliff Swallows.
  • You can also witness cormorants in huge numbers as they collectively hunt for fish.
  • The Smooth-coated Otter is another major attraction and is present in good numbers in the Chambal River around the dam, although they keep moving along the banks.
  • The Rock Eagle-Owl and the Brown Fish-Owl can also be seen amongst the rock cliffs. You will need good sighting skills to spot them as they keep themselves expertly camouflaged.
  • Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary has recently opened up four designated areas for trekking. All four routes are picturesque and are perfect for birdwatching. If lucky, you might even come across a few wildlife sightings. You have to contact the Superintendent or Game Range Officer to obtain permission to enter the park. A group of at least ten members is compulsory, with a fee of ₹2,000 per person. The monsoon and winter months are ideal for trekking in the sanctuary.

Don't Miss

  • The Hinglajgarh Fort is an ancient fort situated inside the sanctuary, estimated to be built during the 7th and 8th centuries by Pratihara rulers. The view from the top shows the vast wilderness of the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary. The Takli river, flowing alongside the fort, has numerous temples and sculptures on its banks, dating to the 10th and 11th centuries. The temple of Goddess Hinglaj Mata is one of great religious importance. Many of the old sculptures found in the vicinity are now preserved in a small museum here. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is responsible for the fort and the museum.
  • Chaturbhuj Temple or Chaturbhujnath Mandir is a place of religious significance and houses an old idol of Lord Vishnu. The adjoining stream, Chaturbhuj Nala, named after the temple, has on its banks several rock shelters that house rock paintings that are 30,000–40,000 years old. An ASI-protected monument, these rock shelters are maintained by the ASI and the forest department. You can spot tigers, rhinoceroses, camels and other animals in these ancient paintings.
  • Sri Dharmrajeshwar Temple is an ancient Hindu cave temple situated around 87km from the Gandhisagar Dam and 80km from the MPT Hinglaj Resort at Gandhi Sagar. Carved out of natural rock, the temple is a brilliant example of Indian rock-cut architecture. The main temple houses a huge Shiva linga and an idol of Lord Vishnu. The main temple is surrounded by seven smaller shrines dedicated to various deities.
  • Takaji is where you can find a temple of Lord Shiva, and during the monsoon, a beautiful waterfall too.
  • Chaurasigarh is where you can watch the vast expanse of the backwaters of River Chambal. Besides housing the ruins of an old fort, it is the perfect spot to watch the sunset as it disappears into River Chambal.

What To Pack

  • It is advised to keep sufficient cash in hand.
  • Be sure to carry a good pair of binoculars if you want to go birdwatching.
  • Sturdy shoes are necessary, especially when exploring the Gandhi Sagar landscape on foot.
  • Don’t forget to pack dry food items and snacks, as you will be spending plenty of time outdoors.
  • Keep essential medicines and drinking water with you at all times.

For Photographers

  • Carry a medium telephoto (200-400mm) lens to photograph wildlife.

Good To Know

  • The roads inside the sanctuary are motorable and personal vehicles are allowed in most areas. Since there are no registered safari jeeps at the sanctuary, it is better to travel by your own vehicle.
  • There is limited mobile coverage, with BSNL being the only network with a steady connection.
  • There is only one ATM in the area, near the 03 number bus stop.
  • There are public restrooms within the sanctuary at designated areas.

Budget Per Person

  • A two-night stay is highly recommended for the complete experience at the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • A one-night stay at the MPT Hinglaj Resort in Gandhisagar will cost around ₹3000 per person. The price is inclusive of meals but excludes transportation.
  • The forest rest house will cost ₹2,000 per person per day (inclusive of food).
Ajay Gadikar - Birdwatcher and Conservationist

Ajay Gadikar

Birdwatcher and Conservationist

Ajay Gadikar is an IT entrepreneur and an avid birdwatcher based in Indore. An active member of the NGO "The Nature Volunteer", he takes a lot of interest in creating awareness about nature and conservation among children. In 2012 and 2013, he was honoured by the forest department for his efforts to conserve the depleting avi-fauna in the Malwa region. He is actively involved in bird surveys across the state and a member of the IUCN-Species Commission for Hornbills.