A day at the Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat

Hitaishi Majumder | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Have you ever thought of getting lost in the wilderness of India? Among the beautiful expanse of a water body, with an endless array of birds around you? If offbeat holiday destinations are your calling and you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is the place for you. The Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary consists of a 46.65 sq km lake and ambient marshes. The sanctuary is situated 64 km west of Ahmedabad, near Sanand Village in Gujarat. Apart from the vast expanse of the wetland, the bird sanctuary is teeming with migratory birds of different kinds during winter and spring. Nal Sarovar literally translates to “Tap Lake” and consists of around 36 small islands! 

“Safari” in Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary

© Pixahive/ Rajpal Singh

The Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is not like your usual safaris. There are no Jeep safaris that you might be familiar with at other national parks. Here, the attraction is the absolutely soul-touching experience on a boat. You get to float on a boat on the massive expanse of the lake and get up close and personal with the birds there. The sanctuary boasts around 210 bird species that migrate from different places like Siberia, Oman, UAE, etc. The birds range from rosy pelicans, flamingoes, white storks, brahmin ducks and herons to more commonly known ones such as pelicans, ducks and storks. You can also enjoy certain mammal species like the wild ass and blackbuck, which are rare finds.

A day in Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary

© Wikimedia Commons / Chandraraj120

The sanctuary opens at 6 in the morning every day. Once inside, you have to get a ticket for what you want to do, because there are several options. Once you do the needful, hop on a boat and go forth towards your exploratory journey. Keep the binoculars handy and get ready to be immersed in the tranquillity of the lake laced with the cacophony of birds. Given the vast expanse of the sanctuary, a deep exploration is a must. You are going to be absolutely mesmerised by the beautiful birds which flock to the Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. The deeper you go, the more the chance to catch something exotic.

For those who want a more relaxed experience, a little bit of boat journey can be followed by a nice picnic since the sanctuary provides that option. If you are interested in indulging in some football and volleyball, there is a huge open space for just that. So, do not worry, the kids are going to be thoroughly entertained. Speaking of entertainment, there is also an option to go horseback riding. Imagine trotting down the huge expanse of the lakeside on a horse and watching birds come and go. It is an ethereal experience.

In between all the bird watching and the nature exploration, be ready to dig into some scrumptious Kathiyawadi Thali (consists of curried vegetables, Indian bread, jaggery, butter and chutney) to provide some r­enewed energy. And, do not forget to eat Gujarat’s famous snack, Gathiya (a deep-fried snack made of chickpea flour).  When you are done with refreshments, get ready to get on the boat because you must experience the sunset on the lake. The sunset looks just as magnificent from the shore. However, it is an experience of a lifetime to watch the sun going down over the horizon while you are in the middle of the water surrounded by hundreds of birds all around. 

Do’s and don’ts

© Wikimedia Commons / Sheetal Kulkarni

As with any sanctuary or national forest, it is important to remember that Nal Sarovar is, first and foremost, the home of the animals and birds there. So, respecting their home is our primary duty. Please do not throw anything in the lake that can make it inconvenient for the birds. They might seriously injure themselves if they get caught in something that you throw away. Take your binoculars to see better. Birds do not often like coming close to human beings for obvious reasons. Carry a water bottle and some dry food once you are out on the lake. Under the harsh glare of the sun, it can get a little hot, and it is best to be prepared. Remember that there is no network coverage; so, be prepared for that. Lastly, use the washroom before embarking on your bird-watching journey. The washrooms are few and far away. Carry a mosquito repellent and hand sanitiser to make the trip easier. 

How to reach

© Pixahive/ Jeenismagic

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary can be either reached by personal vehicles or taxis that you can get from Ahmedabad, which is 64 km away. There are no options for buses, but you can get local vehicles from Sanand Village if you want to add some local flavours to your trip. However, having a car handy is the safer option. Unfortunately, there are no places to stay near the sanctuary, so Ahmedabad is your best and safest option. The best time to go to Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is between November and February. It is cool and the migratory birds come in large numbers.

Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is heaven on earth for anyone who wants to spend a day in the lap of nature. Nature and the sheer number of beautiful birds will create an atmosphere where you would lose yourself. And who knows, maybe you will be able to spot something no one ever has! So, pack your bags and book your tickets to Gujarat.

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