This Sunday, set a date with nature and leave the madness of the city life behind. Take a trip to Sultanpur National Park for birdwatching in pleasant natural environs. Situated just 46km from Delhi, the sanctuary has over 180 varieties of birds and a 170-acre lake that’s surrounded by tress.
The park is situated on the Gurgaon-Farukhnagar road, about 20km from IFFCO Chowk. To get there, take the first right turn from Rajiv Chowk and then for Basai Road take a left turn that’s opposite Sadar Bazar Jama Masjid. Once you hit the Basai village road, the mustard fields on both sides will transport you to a scene from a Yash Chopra movie.
At the Park
The 300-400 acre park is open to visitors mainly during winters when birds from different parts of the world flock here. Walking on the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary’s 4km-long bricked pathway you can gaze at the migratory birds. The lake serves as a winter home to more than 30,000 birds every year.
What to look out for
Even if you are not an aspiring ornithologist, you must catch a glimpse of the over 180 species of migratory birds from Europe, Siberia and Central Asia that are at the lake these days. The sanctuary is popular for its waterfowls or ducks like Mallard, Gadwall, Bar-headed goose (Mongolia), Greylag Goose, Coot, Pintail, Shoveller, Wigeon, Gargeny and Common Teal. Territorial birds like Black Throat or Yellow Wagtail, Red Start, Marsh Harrier, Spoonbill, Cormorant, White Throat Kingfisher, Common Crane, Black Necked Stork and Painted Stork are common sights. Don’t forget to take your binoculars if you want to spot these birds at the lake. Though most of the watch towers are closed, there is one near the entrance that can be used by visitors. There is also a private guide available for R500 to R1,000 on prior booking.
Time to visit
The best time to visit the park is at dawn when the birds start chirping and looking for food. Those who want to stay overnight can book a room at the Haryana Tourism resort nearby.
A pleasant picnic spot
If you get tired after all the walking and bird-watching, you can have a picnic at the gardens outside the lake. The Rosy Pelican restaurant by Haryana Tourism next door offers sandwiches, cutlets and paranthas for R30 to R100. You can also relish fresh radish and carrots with a dash of lemon and salt being sold by farmers near the park. A room near the entrance is dedicated to Birdman of India, ornithologist Dr Salim Ali and contains his photographs and mementos. There is ample parking space for 50-60 cars near the entrance. Maintained by the Haryana Government, a ticket to the park costs R5 per adult with an additional R25 for a camera. A video camera ticket costs R500, while there is no extra charge for binoculars.
Migratory bird gazing
What: Sultanpur National Park
Time: 6.30am to 4.30pm (Monday Closed)
Till: April 2012
Where: Gurgaon- Farukhnagar road, Sultanpur Village, Gurgaon
Entry: Rs 5 (Indian), Rs 40 (foreign national)