The Renuka sanctuary is located in Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh. The total area of the sanctuary is about 402.80 kms. and is comprised of the Renuka Reserve Forest and has been declared as Abhayaranya. Also, an area of roughly about 300 hectare outside the sanctuary has been declared as a buffer belt.
Renuka Sanctuary- Myth
Renuka is an abode of temples of mother and son duo of Renukaji and her son Lord Parshuram. Mythologically Renukaji is worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. She was the wife of Rishi Yamdagini and her son Parshuram is believed to be the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that in order to obey the command of his father Parshuram had to sever the head of his mother.
However, after killing his mother, Parashuram begged his father to perjure life in his mother, for which the Rishi agreed. Sahastarvahu, the emperor wanted to marry her and once when Parshuram was away, he killed Rishi Yamdagini and his four sons to marry Renukaji. To escape the clutches of this emperor Renukaji killed herself by jumping into a pond then known by the name of the Ramsarover and vanished into it. Since then the lake is worshiped as Renuka Lake.
Wildlife in Renuka Sanctuary
The vegetation inside the sanctuary comprises mainlyof Anogeissus, Lucinea, Terminalia, Khair, Shisham, Carrie, Cordia and a number of climbers in moist depressions.
The fauna includes Leopard, Samber, Spotted Deer, Barking deer, Jackal, Hare, Jungle cat, Plam Civet, Porcupine, Blue jay, Black Partridge, Drongos, Hill Crow, Scarlet Minivet, Bulbul, Common Coots, Greenm Pigeons. The Renukaji Zoo is the oldest zoo in Himachal Pradesh, and was initially started during 1957 with rescued, stray and deserted wild animals from the forests.
The first animal brought here was a male spotted deer named Moti. To accommodate the increasing number of animals, the concept of an open park was conceived and the park was established in 1983. At present the Lion Safari, zoo, Aviary and Sanctuary is under control of the administrative control of Shimla Wildlife Division.