Feb 102011

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary- An Oasis in Concrete Jungle of Gurgaon

We live in concrete and glass jungle called Gurgaon the city that encroached on the fertile lands of Haryana, taking over one field at a time. Most of the ponds that enriched the water table were filled with the construction debris and the oldest mountain range in the world Aravalis was brutally mutilated by the mining lobby. But among all this lies the Sultanpur bird sanctuary in Gurgaon on the other side of the highway close to ancestral village of Nawab of Pataudi. Sultanpur bird sanctuary is a less famous compared to its cousin of the more illustrious and famous Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, but is still amazing that it is surviving in the city of Gurgaon. I am sure in a few years it will be within municipal limits of Gurgaon city ( it might already be for all you know)

Bats on a tree


In December I read an article in one of the newspaper about birds flocking to the sanctuary as the rainfall has been good. I decided to go their with my elder daughter, now since some of her cousins were visiting us during the winter vacation. All the kids were very exited at the idea of visiting a bird sanctuary and see some birds in their natural habitat. The youngest of them being our daughter who was yet to turn 7 and the oldest was her cousin around 12.
So a day before the visit the kids asked me all kind of questions about the trip and I was amazed at some of the questions:
• How much time it will take to reach there.
• Would there be any tigers , bear or Fox in the jungle
• Are we going to catch bird flu by going to a bird sanctuary
• Are we allowed to feed to the birds
• Can we touch them
• Would the birds be knowing some tricks
• What all birds we will see in Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

The 3 moms (my wife and here 2 sisters) were surprised on learning our plans and were not very enthusiastic at the idea. You can’t blame 3 young mothers of not trusting a man who wants to take their kids to see birds around 5 in the morning (so what if one of the mothers is my wife and one of the kids is my own?)

It took a lot of persuasion on the kid’s part so that the mothers will allow the kids to come with me. So in the evening we packed our camera, binoculars, wafers, biscuits, juice packets etc.

All the kids were up and ready to go before me in the morning around 5 am (Question: Where is this enthusiasm when they have to get ready for school?) The moms packed some cheese sandwiches to be devoured by hungry kids once they get tired of all the bird watching and trekking in the sanctuary.

Eurasian Eagle Owl


When we left our apartment in the morning around 5:15 it was still dark and foggy but we decided to go ahead and watch the birds with the sun coming up. I have already taken a printout of the route from the internet. But we are a long way from reaching the refinement that you find in the maps that are available for the US cities. Any ways the road was bumpy and dark and we had to stop and ask for directions multiple times. It was tough to concentrate what with all the kids insisting on telling their stories to each other leading to multiple stories being told at the same time. But I really enjoyed the fact that each one of them was trying to get my attention I never felt more important in my life.


Coppersmith Barbet Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Coppersmith Barbet

On both side of the road to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary we saw boards of more construction coming up from all the builders operating in NCR of Delhi and Gurgaon. We saw hoardings from various builders and I  was wondering what will happen to the lush green fields on which the hoardings were erected. More concrete jungle is taking over the green fields. Finally we reached the bird sanctuary and parked the car. There on the entrance was one gentleman wearing a thick shawl and smoking under the no smoking sign indicating that the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is open for business. We bought the tickets and entered the precinct of the sanctuary.

hoopoe pair on a branch

A Pair of Hoopoe: Sultanpur Bird Santuary

It was still fairly dark and foggy and the visibility was not very good. The kids were all excited and were making all kind of noises. Rohan the eldest claimed this noise will keep the tigers away. I had to break his heart by giving the bad news that tigers are rare in tiger sanctuary leave aside a bird sanctuary in the middle of a concrete jungle.
Once we entered the deeper part of the sanctuary we had to be more careful as some of the bushes were thorny, but not thorny enough to puncture the enthusiasm of our little explorers. Once the sunlight started sending the fog home we could see the top of some of the trees. We spotted some bats hanging on a huge Eucalyptus tree, close by there was a solitary Owl trying to get sleep after a night of adventure. He was looking at us with contempt as if daring us to come close. The little ones had some questions regarding the dietary preference of owls and were highly disgusted to know that owls are known to eat rats and other small rodents and lizards.
A little distance further down a solitary Languor was guarding its throne made out of a fallen tree, but his authority was being challenged by the tiny termites who were hell bound on returning the tree back to mother earth one bit a time.
We also spotted some mynas  crows, egrets, strokes, geese, drongo and a host of other birds. In about an hour the enthusiasm of our young explorers was replaced by hunger pangs and we decided to return back. Once we reached home hot Aloo parathas and Hot tea was waiting for us.
Over all it was a very satisfying trip and the kids even today talk about the same and we are planning again once we all get together to go there. Here is link to some of the bird pictures that I have clicked later in Tal  Chapar, as when I visited Sultanpur I did not have my DSLR, but I plan to visit soon. Would you like to join?
How to reach Sultanpur Birdsanctuary :  Here is link to Google Maps to reach Sultanpur bird sanctuary in Gurgaon.
Best Time to reach Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary : Early morning just before sunrise in winters as you will see migratory birds also.  Check this follow up post about the Nilgai we photographed without knowing at  Sutlanpur Bird Sanctuary

Entry Fee to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary:

Rs  5 per person for Indians – above age 5
40 per person for foreigners
10 per person for camera ( no charges for Cell phone Camera ) 
500 per person for video
Trained naturalist are available at the sanctuary gate for additional fee.
Here is  a more recent post on our next trip  with Kids to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary.
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  5 Responses to “Trip to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary : A Bird watching with kids”

Comments (5)
  1. Also, As i am environmental planner dealing with planning issues in NCR, this is protected area and one of the pride conservation efforts of haryana govt…so very unlikely this area will get encroached (as it clearly demarcated with high walls and guarded)..however, the same cannot be said of its surrounding areas…


    • I do hope the Sanctuary remains for a long time, the challenge is if the surroundings are lost, the birds may loose interest in coming there. So some kind of buffer is needed. The other challenge is indiscriminate use of Pesticides in the surrounding fields leading to contamination of food chain.

      I actually also visited the Sanctuary when I myself was a child.


  2. nice read…it took a lot of effort on your part to organize the trip…our visit to sultanpur was bcoz of our apartment’s residents association which decided to organize a picnic and were charging only 250 bucks per person for the whole thing (including transport, breakfast, lunch, snacks and tea)..so we just had to pay and be there…our transport was a bus and we got on it and slept thru our whole journey and arrived fresh there 🙂

    now I think we have been extremely lucky to have visited this place with almost no effort on our part 🙂


  3. Thanks Mohan. Our life changed completely once we had kids. We have 2 girls, elder 9 and younger is 2 years old.

  4. travelling with kids is something that I am yet to experience in life… i know where to look up for details for future planning now 🙂

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