Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary is located at a distance of about 42 kilometres from Gonda in UP’s Sravasti & Balrampur district. Suhelwa was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1988. Adjunct to the Nepal border of India, this sanctuary is spread over an area of 452 sq. km. It is a home to various species of flora including Saal, Teak, Sheesham, Jamun and much more. It comprises of five forest ranges namely Tulsipur, Barahawa, Bankatwa, East Sohelwa and West Sohelwa. The sanctuary is also linked to the Mahadevpuri forest of Nepal region. It is the abode of tigers which are a major attraction for the tourists. The rich fauna of this sanctuary include tigers, bears, leopards, wildcats and various migratory birds. It’s also very important from the view of natural ecosystem and biodiversity as it provides shelters to several endangered species like vultures which are facing great risk of extinction in recent times.
It’s a part of the Eastern Wildlife Circuit that covers trips to Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary, Kashi Wildlife Division and Parvati Agra Bird Sanctuary, which provide an opportunity for tourists to travel through hills, undertake wild safaris, and nature walks.
In 2002, it was named Soheldo wildlife sanctuary in the name of King Soheldo. Shivalik ranges are adjacent to this sanctuary which consists of green pastures and deep seasonal streams which are brimming with water in rainy season. On visiting this place one realizes it is one of the most beautiful natural surroundings in Uttar Pradesh. One feels a relief from the fast moving urban life and can bath in the beauty of nature.
In the north-west boundary of this sanctuary lies river Sharda, while the south-west boundary is marked by River Ghaghara. The reserve has a core zone area of 602.79 sq. km and buffer zone area of 127.45 sq. km. In the Bhabhar forest range, there are two water reservoirs namely, Chittaurgarh and Kohargaddi. These are the main source of water for wildlife and also an attraction for the migratory birds. This range is a part of the buffer zone of the wildlife sanctuary. The Beerpur Forest in this region has rest houses and other facilities for tourists.
The sanctuary is endowed with many natural ecotourism sites. There are eleven dams in the area including the Vaghoshwa dam, Khairman dam, Ganeshpur dam, Girgitahi dam etc.
Suhelwa is home to many animal and bird species. One can spot Sambhar, Deer, jackals, wolf, bears and several different types of monkey, various birds such as the little Grebe, Long-Billed Vulture, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Darter, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle-egret, Little-egret, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana, Common Teal, Spot-Billed Duck, Great-egret, Greater Spotted Eagle Black-Shouldered Kite, Black Kite, White Romped Vulture, Grey Francolin, Sarus Crane, Purple Moorhen, Water Cock, Common Moorhen, Bronze-Winged Jacana and many more. Migratory Birds like Painted Star, Black-headed Ibis, Grey leg Goose, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Open bill, Bar-Headed Goose can also be seen here.
The main tree species found here are Sal, Asna, Khair, Teak etc. Other than these Black Sheesham, Jamun, Haldu, Faldu, Zigna, Harra, Bahera and Rohani are other important species. The Sanctuary is also a home to various medicinal plants which includes Musuli, Black Musuli, Piper longum, Adhatoda vasica, Swertia chirayita, Lantana camara, Holarrhoena antidysentrica and Acorus calamus.
Apart from these, tourists interested in the local culture and history can also see places like the famous buddha shrine in Shrawasti. There is also a famous Goddess Durga shakti peeth, Devipatan temple in Tulsipur and Baba Vibhutinath temple, which is situated in East Sohelwa Range.
Oct-Nov and April-May are the best time to visit this place. The sanctuary is open from Morning to evening. Balrampur is the nearest bus stand and railway station which is 60 km from Suhelwa Sanctuary. One can also use the roadway from Sravasti district, Bhinga. The Sanctuary is at a distance of seven kms from nearest Sirsia market and the nearest airport is Amausi Airport of Lucknow.
One of the most beautiful places in UP, this majestic Wildlife Sanctuary is a treat for a wildlife enthusiast. Situated in the lap of nature, apart from the beautiful tigers, there is a lot to explore in these surroundings.