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They are called the ‘flying flowers’, and they are infinitely more interesting than a social butterfly. Although the latter imitates the former’s behaviour by flitting from one drunkard to another in a swinging party, the real thing doesn’t get hungover the next morning, even after flitting through hundreds of flowers.

Legend has it that this gorgeous insect called Butterfly got its name from an ancient belief in certain parts of the world that witches (or insects) disguise themselves as butterflies and feast on any butter or milk left uncovered. While there’s no way to confirm that, today we can at least go butterfly spotting and discover parts of the extensive shade card that forms their winged palette.

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There are over 1,500 species of butterflies in India, but butterfly conservation did not emerge as a concept in the country until the last decade or so. Even worldwide, it only started in the ’70s as an offshoot of the greenhouse fascination. The Bombay Natural History Society is one of the pioneers in the field and has even started a unique butterfly appreciation course this June. Places as far-flung as Indore, Ujjain, Sikkim, even Aarey Colony in Goregaon, Mumbai, are all initiating the formation of butterfly parks.

Below is our list of the most vibrant butterfly gardens in India, appreciated for their landscaping as well as the number of species they are home to. The best time to visit a butterfly garden is sunny mornings, between 10 am and 1 pm, when butterflies can be seeing coming out of the pupa. And you can visit again and again, assured that each time you will be meeting new butterflies never seen before, because the average life span of a butterfly is two weeks – the longest it can live is one year. Go on, say hello to the fleeting flying flowers.

1. Thumboormuzhi Butterfly Garden (Kerala)

Don’t let the name discourage you. 55 km away from Thrissur is this renowned butterfly park boasting 148 species. They recommend visiting in monsoon to witness that most dazzling of butterflies (many of whom are migratory in nature).

2. Banabitan Butterfly Park (West Bengal)

Nature Mates-Nature Club is a Kolkata-based NGO that focuses on conservation efforts and took to building butterfly gardens in urban spaces about 8 years ago. Their first and most beautiful is a part of the Banabitan (Salt Lake Central Park) in Kolkata and houses 45 species.

3. Butterfly Conservatory (Goa)

This lush green conservatory based in Ponda was started by a nature enthusiast couple who take pride in their rainwater harvesting and host 133 species of butterflies in their garden spread over 4,000 sq m.

4. Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary (Delhi)

Our capital finally got a butterfly park of its own on Environment Day in June this year. Home to 64 species, it is spread over three acres inside the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.

5. Lachiwala Nature Park (Uttarakhand)

As part of its Wildlife Week celebrations in 2016, the Uttarakhand Forest Department inaugurated a butterfly garden in the Lachiwala Nature Park in Dehradun. They are expecting close to 80 species.

6. Agro Society Butterfly Park (Maharashtra)

The Navi Mumbai-based CBD Agro Society is an inspiration for many and a joy for the residents. The butterfly park and nature trail developed by them in Belapur hopes to attract most of the 150 species of butterflies found in the region.

7. Bannerghatta Butterfly Park (Karnataka)

This 7.5-acre tropical awesomeness in Bangalore was the first butterfly park opened in India, as recently as 2006. Besides conservatory, it has a museum and an audiovisual theatre room too, where you can educate yourself with a short film on conservation of the flying flowers.

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