Home > Totternama > Roosting in Peace – Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary

Roosting in Peace – Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary

No one knew about Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary. Wikipedia did not list it. My colleague mentioned about it during the course of a casual conversation. We googled the place up, found it interesting and off we went on a weekend, packing camera and binoculars. We never imagined getting there would be so arduous.

At the onset, locating the Gurgaon-Jhajjar state highway proved daunting in the complete absence of signage. There was a world of a difference between the map and the terrain. We had to frequently stop and ask for directions until we reached SH15A to Farrukhnagar. We were really annoyed by the time we stopped for breakfast at Rosy Pelican restaurant adjacent to Sultanpur Bird Santuary (see link below). However, hot Aloo Paranthas, cool air and bright sunshine soon restored our flagging spirits.

The haphazardly patch worked road offered a jerky ride. Tractors and motorcycles materialized without warning from side roads and kept us on the edge. Overtaking slow moving trucks on the single lane road also proved difficult. At Jhajjar we had a frustrating time finding the way to Bhindawas. After a lot of asking around and double checking we took the road to Chhuchhakwas and finally reached Bhindawas by midday. We could not locate the sanctuary gate anywhere and went along a desolate bund bordering a canal before getting stuck at a fork on the narrow road. In the end a helpful local guided us to the entrance.

We took the entry tickets and asked for a guide. The forest department could not spare one because there weren’t any. The sanctuary covering more than 1000 acres is bordered by a 12 km long motor able road along the embankment. We struck out on own and stopped the car at the first watch tower to look out over an expanse of Kikar at the far away lake. It immediately became apparent that unless we had a telephoto lens, any attempt to capture the birds on camera was futile. Water hyacinth infested large tracts of the lake. We spotted a few deer and Nilgai. A large number of birds flew around, hunted, preened and roosted on tree stumps and islets in the middle of the lake. Through binoculars we saw ducks, pelicans, storks and a variety of other birds we couldn’t distinguish. The lake was so vast that birds appeared as black specks to the naked eye.

The sanctuary also had a herbal garden already showing signs of going to seed. We spent some time looking over and identifying different plants and noting their names. From time to time forest department patrol jeeps went by in a trail of dust.

There were hardly any visitors besides us. An old rustic sat on his haunches as we stood watching birds near the edge where the main road skirted the sanctuary. We could see beautiful long legged green birds foraging the shallow waters for fish and insects. To our shock the old man offered to catch these birds and prepare a meal for us. We realized that for the locals, the sanctuary was nothing more than a source of water, food and firewood. They had little sympathy for what it represented and felt no pride. Bhindawas, unlike Bharatpur did not involve participation of the indigenous people nor offered them any kind of employment.

During the onward journey we were so obsessed with locating the sanctuary that we failed to notice the surrounding fields and hamlets. On the way back we stopped beside bright yellow-green mustard fields and paused to watch ponderous camel carts. At Jhajjar we took the NH71 Bypass to Rewari. The national highway though potholed and patch worked was double lane. There was a lot of truck traffic and at some spots the road deteriorated to little more than loose gravel. Once we negotiated the congested Rewari market, we quickly reached NH8 and touched Gurgaon by nightfall.

Despite the minor hurdles, the journey was worth the trouble. Obscurity and lack of rudimentary amenities has cocooned Bhindawas from rampant commercialism and intense tourist traffic as witnessed in Bharatpur. Only hardcore birders and stray visitors like us go there. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise, for the birds, at least.

 

A kind soul has provided detailed instructions to reach Sultanpur bird sanctuary here:

http://toroid.org/ams/sultanpur

Rosy Pelican Restaurant – Tel: 0124 – 2375242

Photo Courtesy: Subha Varma/ V P Vinod

Categories: Totternama
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