While Kajawa Mahotsav or Fireflies Festivals have been held in places near Pune, with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation’s (MTDC’s) decision to promote the Bhandardhara Fireflies Festival, the event is expected to attract a higher number of visitors to the village.
“We aim to promote Bhandardhara as a tourist destination. For the past few years, a number of people have been visiting the place this time of the year to see the fireflies. So, we thought why not make it an official event. The MTDC also has a resort in Bhandardhara… for those who visit the place en route to Trimbakeshwar and Nashik, the festival will be an added attraction. As the MTDC is an official organiser, the safety of visitors… is taken care of,” said Swati Kale, general manager, MTDC.
Kale added that this year, MTDC started promoting the festival in advance through its website and so far, it has received a good response. “The festival will go on for a few more days till the monsoon arrives because fireflies can’t be seen after that,” she added.
The pre-monsoon climate in Bhandardhara is the idyllic period for fireflies and glowworms for breeding. Looking for a mate, thousands of fireflies can be seen together on trees, glowing in their bioluminescent lights in the dark. Often, the visitors camp under the stars, and the tiny and magnificent creatures leave them mesmerised. Other than Bhandardhara, various places near Pune witness a similar natural spectacle during the pre-monsoon period, and people throng to them in large numbers.
While it has gained the name ‘Kajawa Mahotsav’ or ‘Fireflies Festival’ over the years, there hasn’t been any official organiser for the event till now. Various trekking or adventure groups, as well as tour operators, include ‘Festival’ in their itinerary, along with other activities.
Pune-based Anand Pawar, who has been attending the Kajawa Festival in Panshet for the last 10 years, said, “Seeing the fireflies has become my hobby in the last 10 years. I collaborate with other people and visit the place. Nearly 50 people join me every year.” Jayesh Paranjape of The Western Routes has been organising a tour to places like Saswad near Harishchandra Fort and Ratanwadi — to see fireflies — for the last four years. The number of people joining the tour has been increasing each year, he said.
“While in the first year, we arranged a tour only on one weekend, now there are so many interested candidates that we take them over two to three weekends. The problem is that the time period when one can see fireflies is not much. It starts after the first few showers, in late May, and finishes when the monsoon starts, mostly in mid-June. One can only accommodate 3-4 trips in this time period on weekends,” said Paranjape.
Kale said some MTDC festivals have attracted great response in the recent past, such as the Nagpur Festival, Kalidas Festival, Sarangkheda Festival and Elephanta Festival, and MTDC expects the fireflies festival to be equally popular.