Jan 262016

The last of Sarson Ke Khet Near Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

That I regularly go bird watching at  Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary near Gurgaon is old news. While I enjoy bird watching there with my friends and family at Sultanpur, each visit also now makes me a bit sad. As we approach the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary and the Basai Wetlands that are on the way, the thoughts about future of these birding heavens make me gloomy because of the future of the Sanctuary, as well as the Basai Wetlands, is not secure.

For me, the visit to nature is all about the ecosystem, sustainability and our heritage that we have borrowed from our children.  So I am not disappointed if I do not spot some rare bird but I feel sad when I see a plastic bottle left in a bird sanctuary.

sultanpur bird sanctuary

A Foggy Morning at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

I first went to the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary as a kid and remember going through village after village. As recently as 2008 we could see acres and acres of Golden Mustard Fields or Sarson Ke Khet all along the way as we say in Hindi. For me visiting a national park or sanctuary has never been watching exotic rare species or just focusing on the Tiger. But with every visit the number of fields has dwindled, trees replaced by power and mobile towers, confusing the birds as their natural navigation systems are impacted by electromagnetic radiation all around.  As more fields are converted into roads, malls, flyovers, apartment complex the natural slopes, channels, canals that fed the sanctuary and the Basai Wetlands are all gone disrupting the flow of waters in the natural sinks for excessive overflow or the odd extra monsoon in Gurgaon.

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

How Long will this birding wetland last?

What can we expect in a few years? Well to begin with the water table in Gurgaon will go down with all the extra rain water getting no open places to soak it. Then I fear a disaster like Chennai where due to loss of natural flow of water into the reservoirs, one year of excessive rains and the old city of Gurgaon will be underwater for days to come as the water struggles to find ways.  But I am pretty sure our town planners, greedy politicians, and bureaucrats have learned nothing from the Mumbai Floods, Chennai disaster and even Uttarakhand flash floods.  I sound very negative here and technically I have no right to preach because I live in an apartment complex that is built on what were once lush green fields but lost to the ever-growing concrete and glass jungle of Gurgaon. Google maps still shows a lake right across the road from our apartment, but when I went there all I found was some overgrown bushes and nothing else, the water was gone long ago.

Wedding Photographer Priyanka Sachar

Priyanka Sachar takes a break from weddings and clicks some birds

Soon similar fate awaits the green and golden Sarson Ke Khet around Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, I am pretty sure all sold or are in process of being sold.

So this may be the last year we see Sarson Ke Khet around the Sanctuary and next year when I visit we may only see some concrete towers in the area.  

May be we do not deserve this wonderful 1 in a billion Planet, but let us remember this planet our mother earth was there before us, and it will be there after us also. It is up to us how long we want to be on this earth. Is it too late to save earth I don’t think so, just like each one of us has contributed to the pollution, to the greed to the global warming each one of us can also contribute to the reversing of the cycle all we need is to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

A black ibis at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

How long will this little guy have a home ?

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Will she become homeless just because she does not have a vote ?

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

The world is not half as beautiful without birds

Coming back to this visit to the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, we were just  3 of us, my friend Pankaj G ( yes the same Pankaj G, whose mother makes the best Nagori  Subzi and Halwa ), wedding photographer Priyanka Sachar and your friendly neighborhood desi Traveler. All others who had said yes to visit the sanctuary with us have gone missing without informing. May be because it was cold, may be because they forgot or may be because it was just not something they said seriously.

But anyways the three of us reached Sultanpur early morning on one of the only foggy days of this season. God how I miss winters, whatever happened to Dilli Ki Sardee ?

As we were driving towards the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary,  this time my friend Pankaj G was driving, and as my attention was not on road I started noticing all the development (  ? ) all around  me.  Field after field converted into apartment complex, roads, flyovers, etc.

Nilgai Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

A Nilgai crossed our path, she is pretty used to seeing humans at close quarters

Nilgai at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

And entered water:  Nilgai looking for juicy grass in the morning

Bull Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Sultanpur Sanctuary is also home to many Bulls who have found refuge there

Right next to the Sancuary there are new private colleges and other commercial enterprises ranging from Mithai Shop to Petrol Pumps coming up everywhere. Guess that is what development all about.

I was not in a great mood when we entered the sanctuary and I guess that shows in the pictures that I clicked and processed later after coming home, except for the bright last Sarson Ke Khet right across the entrance to the Bird Sanctuary.  As if by providence there was only one tree standing in the field among the millions of Sarson blooms probably a grim reminder of this quote

“When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money”

Sarson Ke Khet

The Last Tree in the last Sarson Ke Khet

Sarson Ke Khet

Look at these golden blooms before they are gone

Sarson Ke Khet

Where will the next generation of Bollywood sing their love songs ?

Pankaj Garg in Sarson Ke Khet

My friend Pankaj G decided to have his own Sarson Ke Khet moment before it is too late

I wish some miracle will happen and the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary and the surrounding greens and wetlands of Basai will be saved. But come what may I hope to continue to visit the sanctuary for the years to come and meet my feathered friends who seem so happy in the last refuge they have as their habitat is destroyed and a concrete jungle grows all around them

You can check one of the earlier posts written about Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary here with information on how to reach, bird species spotted as well as tips of spotting birds etc.

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mustard flowers sarson ke phool

May a million Sarson flowers bloom 

🙂 🙂 🙂

  27 Responses to “A Morning Drive to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary & The Last Sarson Ke Khet of Gurgaon”

Comments (26) Pingbacks (1)
  1. गुडगाँव के गाँवों में जमीन के साथ साथ लोगो के रीती रिवाज और परम्पराएं भी बिक गये है , मुझे नहीं लगता की ये सुल्तानपुर झील अगले एक दशक भर टिक पाएगी .

    • बुरी हालत है अभी फिर से जून मैं मैं गया था… पक्षी काम और पिकनिक मानने वाले ज्यादा थे और चरों तरफ ऊंची इमारतें बन गयी हैं

  2. Spectacular captures as always

  3. Such wonderful captures of the birds in flight. Hope the wetland gets taken care of in the coming years.

  4. Beautiful birds, beautiful morning light and beautiful pictures, Prasad.
    Long live this beautiful haven for birds; we can certainly hope for that.

  5. Superb pics 🙂

  6. Amazing.Beautiful photos.

  7. Nice photos. Most beautiful in our view is ibis. 🙂

  8. Wow -these shots are pure magic!

  9. Beautiful captures and I sincerely hope there is no more ‘development’

  10. Waiting for a long time to go there. Should do sooner before it gets vanished!

  11. Yes u r right. Too much of concrete and ecosystem destruction has happened in the name of development. SultanpurBird once boasted of birds, loads of greenery around, fresh air and beautiful weather, some of which still remain but rest all gone. Sarso khet may vanish too, totally agree. Good post, thought provoking.

  12. oddly enough I have never been to a bird sanctuary. You’re pictures are beautiful and I feel that maybe I am missing out but I always find animals hold more interest for me personally. I have to agree though, the sight of plastic in any jungle or park is extremely upsetting. I don’t understand why we behave like this.

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