Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Sulatnpur is 65 km from Delhi and 15 km from Gurgaon. But we did not know its exact location. We had tried to find road directions from friends who had been there. The common answer was that they had reached there after asking here and there. Nobody could tell us exactly where we should leave NH8. All we could find was that it is on Gurgaon – Jhajjar road.

Thus our journey continued beyond Gurgaon and we had even crossed Manesar. Asking locals on the way was of not much help either. We found that locals call it Sultanpur Jheel. So you need to add Jheel to Sultanpur to ask for road direction. If you tell Sultanpur National park or Sanctuary, most will draw blank faces. Finally we got one old man who could tell us to leave NH8 at the crossing about 3km ahead and take the turn to Panchgawan and then reach Sulatnpur Jheel via Farukhnagar. This point on NH-8 had a road sign indicating 7 km to Bilaspur and 14 km to Dharuhera.

The old man was wise and correct. Yet we asked a family on the way and that man gave us exact direction. One should be careful while asking for roads direction in Haryana. One should avoid asking youths in groups. So we picked mostly old man or families. We had traveled through huge farmlands and villages for about 14 km and had even encountered a cavalcade going to the launch of a new party that day by Bhajan Lal. Finally we had reached Sultanpur. The tachometer clocked 87 km. To be honest, this unintentional detour was not that bad a road.

The exact location of Sultanpur is 15 km from Gurgaon on NH-15A. The road is also known as Gurgaon – Jhajjar road. I knew Sultanpur as a bird sanctuary. But it has been upgraded to a National Park, not sure when. Thus it probably is the second National Park for Birds in India. The other being Keoladeo Ghana National Park at Bharatpur (Rajasthan). The place has a resort of Haryana Tourism , which is located in a different campus right next to the park.

We had breakfast at the restaurant, which is the only eating facility around. So you have to drink tea @Rs.15/- a cup. This place is not accessible by public transport. So people who come here will come in their private vehicles and are so expected to be rich enough pay that much. After the breakfast we headed for the park.

Entrance fee is Rs.5/- per head and an additional Rs.25/- for still camera. I hate paying for camera. Video camera charges is Rs.250/-. These exorbitant charge for handycams is outdated and should be scrapped. Govt. of India should certainly do something about it. I had stopped carrying handycams as there is no point paying such hefty fees.

The park is developed around a natural lake where many species of migratory birds nests. An elevated track of mud and bricks built around the lake, which is not very close, the lake. The track is about 3 ½ km. One is required to take this trip on foot. The biggest disappointment one will face is that all the birds are in the lake and one cannot go very close to the lake. The lake is surrounded by swamps. There are two or three approaches built to let tourist go close to the lake. But birds prefer to stay from those places.

Despite all these you will be able to see some birds. And if you are lucky, you will see some of them from close. As we did. Three large cranes came hurtling above form the distance making loud noises while flying. I was in perfect position to capture those moments in my camera. Those few shots made my day.

We decided to complete the lap. It was a good nature walk where we could see many Nilgais in the wild. At one point of the track, I got off it to find whether there was any access to get close the lake. Suddenly I could hear something making its way out of the bush in front of me. I also ran to get around the bush to find what it was. A large bull Nilgai was standing just few meters from me. I was sure that it would not charge at me. I stood there calmly and took some shots. Shots were not that good, but those were real wild life shots. After looking at me for me moments, the bull went further into the swamps. That completed the adventure.

We got out of the park by late noon. The kids were also complaining after being made to walk the 3+ km track. We had a late lunch at the restaurant of the resort. There were playing facilities for kids in the campus. By afternoon many people had gathered in the campus. They appeared to be picnic goers from Gurgoan. This may be a happy outing ground for people living around Gurgaon. Even though picnics were supposedly not allowed in the campus, there was nobody to enforce it. The other option is to stay at the resort for a night and enjoy a round of the park early next morning. The location is far away from the maddening crowd and hustle–bustle of NCR. In case you want to book accommodation at the resort then here are their phone nos. : 0124-2375242, 2015670

While returning, we took the NH-15A. We had reached the center of Gurgaon town from where we took the road to Rajiv Chowk on NH-8. So it became clear that we should have left NH-8 at Rajiv Chowk. Thus the return was exactly 65 km for us.


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Anonymous said...

it was good reading your article- concise and informative. thanks. kanika

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