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Date with Siberian Guests - Sultanpur National Park

It was one of the usual catching up conversations with Vishnu that we realized it has been long since we had met and hence it was time to plan something to catch up and have an outing. This thought was further strengthened by the fact it we hadn’t been out for quite some time and the itch to get out was already aggravating. Our wives as always were on board at first signs of the proposal. And so the search for a suitable destination began. We began with usual search of weekend getaways which would serve the purpose. We both wanted to get away to a place with is calm and close and provides enough relaxation. While we had shortlisted a couple of locations suiting our criteria, Vishnu suggested visiting the Sultanpur National Park. On quick search and enquiry about it, we freeze it as our destination.

Birds Taking the Flight
Sultanpur National Park is one of the two important bird sanctuaries in North India and every year invites a wide variety of migratory birds. Birds from as far as Europe, Siberia and Central Asia flock towards this sanctuary and find habitat as the cold in their native regions make their natural habitat inhabitable. The birds start arriving by October and are well settled by November and hence it was evidently the perfect time to visit the park. In all, the park is home to over 250 species of birds and animals. The park was set up during the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi in 1971 and was accorded the status of the sanctuary. In 1991 more area was brought under the park and it was given a level of National Park.

So the venue was finalized and we decided to visit the place on upcoming Saturday and we began our research on the destination. On the decided date. December 5th, 2015, we began our journey after a relaxed late Saturday morning. I know the ideal time to visit a bird sanctuary is right at dawn but then it isn’t something that seemed possible after a horrible week at work. So we decided that we would catch the birds while on their evening return flight home. As planned we started from Delhi at about 11 and headed to our first stop at Vishnu’s house in Gurgaon. Wifey, Priya, was kind enough to pack in sandwiches and other snacks for the day as our research indicated a dearth of eating options at the park. After about an hour’s drive, we were there meeting Vishnu and his wife Priyanka. After picking them up we headed straight to the park. The road after initial congestion opened up and we were on the open highway as if blocked for ourselves.

Outside of Dhanot, a village on the way, we found numerous fruit vendors on either side of the road. It had been over an hour and a half’s drive and the slight hunger was calling out to stop for food. All it needed was one of us to give word to that hunger and there we were parked on the roadside and negotiating with the vendors. After some quick negotiations, some fruits in the car and a confirmation of route, we were off again for our destination. Apparently, we were almost there and all that was left were 3 kilometers. Soon we saw the giant display saying “Sultanpur National Park” and we pulled into the walled parking by 12:45 PM.

We proceeded towards the reception area and asked for tickets – a car entry cum parking, entry tickets for four and a camera. The guy at counter punched out 6 pieces of different papers and says 55 Rupees, please. Yes, that was all and out of it, 25 were for camera and 10 for parking. We took our tickets and talked to guides standing there to grasp what was ahead of us. There are enough guides available at the counter and they charge anything between 500 to 2000 bucks based on the season and your negotiating powers. It was then we realized that we could not take our food items into the birds’ zone but they had maintained a separate park around where we could have our picnic experience. So we gulped down a sandwich and began our journey into the wilderness.

View as You Enter

The Information cum Display Center
That is us in the Information Center
The entire area in build around a lake which is connected to Yamuna through canals to keep perennial supply of water. There are two tracks which take you through either shore of the lake and end as a dead end ultimately at the narrowest point of lake. But before you start on these tracks there is an information center at the starting point where the tracks diverge which is basically a photo exhibition of the species found in the park. There was an interactive electronic illustration of the paths of the migratory birds which was an interesting piece of display. After spending some time in the center, we took onto the first track.

The Trail into Wilderness

Into the Woods
Birds Flocking in the Winter Sun

As we proceeded we were positively amazed at the relative maintenance of the place given a less sought after place under governmental control. The place was clean and paths were even. There were boards introducing to various species of birds. Also, there are in all 4 strategically placed watch towers to observe the birds. We deferred the climb onto one of these for the second trail. After about 2 kilometers walk we reached the end of the trail. On our way, we witnessed a number of varieties of birds. We also saw a blue bull or Nilgai in depths of water. At the end of the trail, we were on one end of the lake which provided an awesome view of birds huddled together. Some of the birds were downright attractive. Birds with blue-black necks or ones with orange color scattered over body or cranes with their wings stretched out in preparation of flight – each provided a heart-catching picture. After spending moments to satiate ourselves with view in-front of us we decided to head back to the base.

Yum is the Word
We were back at our car by about 3:00 PM to pick all the food we had brought with us. We took the food and our picnic gear and reached the adjoining park. This park too was unexpectedly clean and lawns were well manicured. We had a great time chatting after a long time over food which tasted awesome in the setting. The air to breathe was devoid of the much-habituated pollution, the noise of the urban Delhi was missing and an unusual calm simply added to the pleasantness of the surroundings. We did not realize when the hours passed off amidst the fun we were having. After some relaxation, we decided to take up the second trail and headed back to the main area of the park. The second trail was another 2-3 kilometers in length.

Climbing the Watch Tower

Birds Taking the Flight

The Lake
This was relatively secluded trail with fewer people taking up the track for lack of much difference in view from the other one and herd approach led people to it one after other. As we progressed on this trail we found a watch tower and decided to take the climb this time. Spread over three stories the view from the top was simply awesome and worth the effort. The watchtowers are makeshift structures though and one should be careful not to climb in a large group. The advisory limits number of people at one time to 5 and its best to abide by it. We spent some good moments at the top of the tower absorbing the tranquil view and buzzing birds. Then we proceeded some distance further into the woods and then returned back by 5:00 PM.

We took the car and headed back. As we realized that a great outing was coming to an end, we were conscious of the fact that similar occasion may not come soon. All of us could feel the heaviness in an atmosphere that is characteristic of any return journey. We took first stop at Gurgaon to drop Vishnu and bid them goodbyes. By about 7 we were back at our home, tired yet eclectic at the way the day turned out and reminiscing of the wonderful time spent with friends, food, and nature.

A Parting Shot - Us and Birds

Do pour in your views on the post and any feedback you have is most welcome. Also, do visit other travel destinations covered on the blog to have a first-hand view of many cities across the world.

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