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India >> North >> Punjab >> Harike bird sanctuary
Harike bird sanctuary Punjab, North
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The Harike Bird Sanctuary sprawls in the districts of Kapurthala, Firozpur and Amritsar located in Punjab. A reservoir built on the conflux of rivers Satluj and Beas near Harike town resulted in the formation of Harike Lake. Harike attained the status of a bird sanctuary in 1982 and in 1990 it was declared a Ramsar Site. At present the sanctuary extends upon an area of around 280 square kilometers. In winter Harike provides shelter to a number of migratory birds. Approximately 20,000 ducks are there in the Park during migratory season. Every winter the Lake is visited by close to 200 species of birds. The birds commonly found in the Sanctuary are Hen Harrier, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Pallas's Gull, Cotton Pygmy Goose, White-winged Tern, Tufted Duck, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Watercock, Brown-headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, White-browed Fantail, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Indian Skimmer, White-rumped Vulture, Eurasian Sparrow hawk, Eurasian Hobby, Horned Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Brown Shrike, Common Wood shrike, White-tailed Stonechat, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Rufous-vented Prinia, Striated Grass bird, Cetti's Bush Warbler and the sulphur - bellied Warbler. Besides birds, there are also animals like Jungle cat, Smooth Indian Otter, Mongoose, Jackal and Indian wild Boar.

 

About 56kms away, Amritsar, is one of the most ancient and fascinating cities of India. It is an important seat of Sikh history and culture. Being the gateway for travelers coming to India on the overland route from central Asia it soon became the centre of various commercial activities. There are various historical and religious sites here. The important ones being the Golden Temple and the Amritsar massacre memorial (or the Jallianwallan baugh). Also about 30 kms from the city lays Wagah border, the international border between India and Pakistan, a must visit.

 

At a distance of around 170kms from Harike, one can find the Pong dam reservoir. The Pong Dam reservoir or Maharana Pratap Sagar reservoir is 65 km from Pathankot and 115 km from Dharamsala. Nestled in the sylvan surroundings of the Kangra valley, the sprawling Pong Dam wetland has emerged as a major habitat for migratory birds in the country and also an attraction for avid bird watchers. In 1960, a dam was built on the Beas River and this resulted in the creation of the huge Maharana Pratap Sagar Lake (once known as Pong Lake). This huge mass of water varies from 180 sq. km. to 400 sq. km. In 1983, the Sagar was declared a wildlife sanctuary and over 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families have been sighted over the waters and the fringing mud-banks - these include black-headed gulls, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl, egrets, etc. Other fauna and wildlife of the sanctuary include barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards and claw-less otters. 27 species and sub-species of fish belonging to six families have also been recorded in the lakes waters.

 Orientation

A barrage at the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers has created the Harike lake wetlands. These wetlands are a shallow artificial water storage reservoir with 13 islands, near Harike town. The sanctuary area, covering an expanse of 73 sqkm, now consists of shallow marshy stretches, an ideal habitat for water birds. Though boating is not possible at Harike, there are plenty of trails offering rich sightings of the birdlife here. For tourists the only entry point into the Harike wetlands is from the Nanaksar Gurudwara across the barrage. Permits are required from the Harike wildlife office on the way to enter the sanctuary. From the Gurudwara precincts you can walk along the birding trails on both sides. There are also some birding trails in the 100 acre tract of Sarkanda grass right of the Gurudwara. Tourists are permitted to drive their petrol vehicles (speed 20kmph).

 

The name of the city of Amritsar derives from the name of the pool around the Golden Temple (aka Harmandir Sahib) and means "holy pool of nectar" (Amrit: elixir; Sar: (short for sarovar) lake). It is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. Amritsarís Golden Temple is Sikhismís most sacred shrine one can come here in the predawn to watch the ceremonial procession as the Guru Granth Sahib is carried in a bejeweled palanquin from the Akal Takth to the Hari Mandir. Late at night the evocative ritual is played out in reverse. Another site of importance in Amritsar is the Jallianwallan baugh (a.k.a the Amritsar massacre memorial). The stillness that surrounds the site today is a sharp contrast to the angry shout of gunshots from General Dyerís troops that rained upon the unarmed crowd that gathered here in the early days of Indiaís freedom struggle. About 30 kms from the city lays Wagah border, the international border between India and Pakistan. The pomp and pageantry of the Beating Retreat and the Change of Guard within handshaking distance of the Indian and Pakistani forces makes for a most charming spectacle here.

 

The Pong Dam Wetland Sanctuary, also known as The Maharana Pratap Sagar reservoir (40 kms) is the largest fresh water sanctuary in India with a water area of 475 sq. km. The sanctuary is a haven for resident and migratory birds besides a wide variety of aquatic fauna, and has been listed as a wetland of international ecological importance by the Ramsar Foundation.  By size definitions, the Pong Lake is huge (475 sq. km.). It offers riverine to placid lake fishing, from deep water to jigging in the mud flats. As far as angling locales go, it is home to over 27 different species of fish, from the mighty Himalayan Golden Mahseer to the much overlooked Rohu (Labeo Rohita) Pong offers excitement to both the game fisher and the coarse angler. Guests specially looking to do birding and fishing can spend from a few days up to a week. Also a regional water sports centre has been established in the Pong dam reservoir which offers focused activities such as canoeing, rowing, sailing, and water skiing, apart from swimming. Training program are organized in water safety and rescue measures with three tier water sports courses - the basic course, intermediate course and advanced course. Modern infrastructure facilities have been created with a 75 bed hostel and a 10 suit rest house. It is said to be the only centre of its type in the country.

 Getting there

Location

Harike wetland is situated at the barrage at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej at Harike Pattan in Punjab.

 

 

Distance

This bird sanctuary lies at about 507kms NW of Delhi and about 60 kms SE of Amritsar.

 Fast Facts
Name Harike bird sanctuary Best Time To Visit November to March
Location Punjab   North   India   Destination  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Ramsar convention bird Sanctuary.
Temperature Summar   40c - 45c      Winter   2c - 4c      Rainy   20c - 30c
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