Beautiful Bird Sanctuaries In India For Bird Watching
When did you last listen to a bird twittering closely? When were you last woken in the morning by a koel’s hypnotic tune? Bird watching exists in India, but it is still not as popular as it should be. With this list of the most fantastic bird sanctuaries in India, we give you a chance to enjoy one of nature’s most beautiful privileges.
But before you get all excited and pack your bags already, here are a few points to consider, especially if you are a beginner.
- Carrying a good pair of binoculars is a must.
- An illustrated field guide is very important.
- Rather than going by yourself, join a bird-watching group. More sets of eyes and ears will help you learn more than you’d imagine.
- Most importantly, respect nature and the birds’ habitat.
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1. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
The country’s oldest national park, Jim Corbett National Park, is a bird watchers’ paradise. It is known to house more than 500 species of bird. Situated in the Nainital district, you can reach the park on an 8-hour-long drive from Delhi.
For most bird lovers, the park’s beauty lies in the eternal choir of bird songs in the gorgeous landscape’s backdrop, including a lovely mix of lush forests , grasslands, and hills. Inside the park, the Solluna Resort and Kalagarh Dam are just some of the best places to spot birds.
Waking up to the multitudinous bird calls, stepping into a magical land ruled by magpie-robins, bulbuls, parakeets, bee-eaters and paradise flycatchers is quite a surreal experience.
Best time to visit: Mid-March to April-end; and all the winter months when you can spot lots of migratory birds.
Entry fee: INR 100 for Indians; INR 1000 for foreign nationals.
2. Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Haryana
Situated in Gurgaon, the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is perfect for bird-seeing as it is home to some of the most colourful species of birds. Located at just an hour’s drive from the national capital, this sanctuary is very popular among bird watching enthusiasts. Numerous migratory birds stop here every year, and some of the most famous finds here include the Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Siberian cranes, and Greater Flamingo. The shallow freshwater lake – Sultanpur Lake – is where several birds can be easily spotted. There are approximately 250 species of birds here.
“Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary makes for a nice weekend break from Delhi in the winters, whether you are a birder or just looking for a day in nature’s lap without travelling too far away from the city,” says a traveller on her blog.
Best time to visit: Winter is the best time to spot migratory birds.
Entry fee: INR 5 for Indians; INR 40 for foreign nationals. You’d also have to pay INR 500 if you wish to shoot a video.
3. Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat
The Nal Sarovar in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad is one of the largest wetland bird sanctuaries in the country and boasts of probably the best winter evenings there are. The sanctuary is known for the Indian Owl and some scarce bird species like Spoonbills and Small Grebes. The sanctuary has also developed an interpretation centre – Abhiruchi Kendra – by the forest department, wherein 225 types of birds have been recorded to date.
Best time to visit: The place is a birdwatcher’s delight from November to February.
Entry fee: INR 60. Extra INR 100 for cameras.
4. Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, Odisha
Near Puri, Orissa is Asia’s largest inland seawater lagoon – The Chilka Lake – at The Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, located about 120 km from Bhubaneshwar. The pear-shaped lake spreads over a massive 1,100 sq. km. and serves as the most significant wintering home for migrating birds. Bird photography is at its peak here as this place is home to some exotic species like sea eagles, purple moorhen, and greylag geese, and it also houses the world’s largest flamingo breeding colonies. There are many small islands in the lake.
Of these, the Nalabana Island, Mangalajodi and Kalupadaghat are a must-visit for some spectacular views of some gorgeous birds. What forms a unique part of the whole adventure is the boat cruises, which are the best way to explore this place.
Best time to visit: October to March.
Entry fee: INR 90 – 9000, depending on the different boat cruising tours they offer.
5. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Stunning lush greenery and flocks of some of the most beautiful, exotic birds are characteristic of the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, set in the mind-blowing backwaters of Kerala. This picturesque destination is ideal for birds photography and bird seeing in the south of India. It is a part of the Vembanad backwaters located about 80 km from Kochi. It is a favourite migrating destination for birds like Little Cormorants and Pond Herons. Still, you will also spot lots of local birds like the cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck that form a significant part of the sanctuary’s attraction points. They provide houseboats for birdwatching, and this only adds to the fun.
Best time to visit: Between June and August, and from November to February.
Entry fee: INR 50.
6. Lava and Neora Valley National Park, West Bengal
Bird watchers find the Lava and Neora Valley National Park completely awe-inspiring, even though it is tough to spot many birds amid the very thick, lush greenery. But the variety and the number of species is way beyond spectacular. The Algarah Road in Lava is touted as the best “birding mile” in the country. This national park is home to many rare species like the Rufous-throated Partridge, the White-Tailed Robin, Satyr Tragon, and the Rusty-bellied Shortwing. There are about 265 species of birds in total in the park.
Best time to visit: Winter mostly. The park remains closed during the monsoon season.
Entry fee: INR 100. However, you may have to spend a day trip to the valley from your hotel/resort/hostel.