“Hi, we are from Siberia. We come here every year but haven’t seen you before. Nice to meet you. What take you so long to come & meet us? Let’s introduce you to all of my friends…
Thank you…actually, it’s our fault. We were busy in our life and never…”
The city, Gurgaon, where we live at present, has been crowned as the Millennium City of India, long time back and it is a living example of a modern city. Over the last few years, Gurgaon has become one of the most sought after destination in India for business, commercial and hub of medical tourism. However, it lacks historical places like it’s big neighbour, Delhi, the capital of India and can’t attract travelers from outside.
It is also difficult for those who stays here, which is now close to ~2 millon of people. Hence, whenever you have any guests at home, you need to search for the places to take them around. Agreed, Gurgaon is still in its’ nascent stage and aspires to be a global city someday. It still lacks basic infrastructure in place at most of the areas, however, we will have to be optimistic at the end. Having said that we must also agree that the city has given us our bread and butter, our livelihood depends on the city’s growth. It doesn’t matter anymore whether we are in love or not in love with the city, we made it our home and became selfishly nostalgic about our roots over the years. The truth is also that our life now revolves in & around the place, where we live and we are not an exception either.
In order to attract tourists, the city needs to develop places, other than shopping malls on the (in)famous Mall roads or in every part of the city, where you can spend some quiet time or enjoy. The definition of enjoy certainly varies from person to person and I am not talking about numerous pubs, movie halls or restaurants here. At the same time, we do need some places, which is accessible to common man (if the word ‘common’ still exists in Gurgaon’s dictionary). We don’t always need world class infrastructures or places or do we! (one or two places like Kingdom of Dreams should be ok). May be my architecture friends & developers need to brainstorm with the concerned authorities, to see that Gurgaon really become a good place to live for all. We must ensure balance in our society while developing a big city. We must also not forget that city life has a great influence on us in every aspects these days. Architecture can inspire certain human feelings and moods, which also reflects in urban landscapes. We often don’t notice our surroundings over the hustle & bustle of daily life and used to live in concrete jungle.
I will try to bring up few such places in & around Gurgaon, you must be aware of some of them and some places might also be completely new to you. Such trips can be quiet a change when you are used to living in chaos.
My first attempt to go to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary ended abruptly in a cold winter afternoon of year 2003. We were staying in CR Park, but couldn’t reach the place due to road repair work near the then Rajiv Chowk & Sadar Bazar. It was ten years ago and Gurgaon was yet to be considered a happening place like today. As a newly married couple, we were also not comfortable in a bike and decided to return. We shifted Gurgaon next year in 2004, which has changed a lot since then. However, somehow we forgot the existence of this place completely.
Saturday, the 19th of January, 2013
It was a bright sunny day after a long time, after we experienced few extreme cold days when temperature dropped to 0.7 degree in Gurgaon and the cold waves continues for almost two weeks. We had no plan to go out. In the last two months, we were hardly at home during any weekends, hence thought to spend the day at home only. At the same time, I was also thinking that it could be an ideal day for photography. But where to go! Then, to visit ‘Sultanpur National Park (Bird Sanctuary)’ came to my mind and when I dropped the idea, everyone was ready for the outing. We had never tried to go there after our first attempt, which is so close (22 Km) from where we stay. We decided to leave by 12 noon and planned to have our lunch over there. We always manage to leave by the scheduled time, why this trip will be an exception. If we can avoid the traffic at Sadar Bazar, the travel time should not take more than 40 minutes, we thought and by 1 p.m. we should be inside the park. However, things never happen according to your plan, proved right once again.
Though, I never went there before, I have a fair idea of the route. By 12:10 p.m., we crossed Rajiv Chowk which is just 7 Km from our home and Sultanpur is 15 Km from there. A precious 40 minutes wasted to fix the flat tyre at Sadar Bazar and another 15-20 minutes just 3 Km before the sanctuary, because of a wrong turn. Finally, when we reached the place it was 2 p.m. and all of us were hungry. We headed straight towards the Restaurant, managed by Haryana Tourism Department. A nice place, however, you may be disappointed with the quality of the food or we were there on the wrong day. Finally, we entered the park at 2:40 p.m.
We went to Bharatpur twice and returned completely disappointed, since I didn’t have the right equipment to capture birds. I was excited that I won’t return empty handed this time, as we entered inside. The lake is full of water. There is a walking track around the circumference which would take a couple of hours. There is a big lake in between where most of the birds camp. In between there are a few paths which would lead you up to near the water to get a view of various water birds.
…Thank you…actually, it’s our fault. We were busy in our life and never…”
We were day dreaming…nothing that sort had happened with us this time. We returned disappointed from Bharatpur and same thing happened this time as well. We were not well equipped to start our conversation with our long-distance feathered friends and finally, you should have patience to see them come close to you…wait…wait and wait is the key. You should also have a tele lens and a good binocular and finally, you should go there alone. We have spotted herons, parrots, crow, sparrow, pigeons, ducks and few neelgai and saw deers, crossing the water body. We also saw few migratory birds; however, sadly none of us being ornithologists, we couldn’t identify them and most of the birds were playing far away from the point where we were standing.
The most humorous comment came from my son finally. “Baba, tu-mi a-ma-ke ei de-kha-te ni-ye e-se-cho”; Ok, let me translate this for you “…and you brought me here to see these only. I have already seen them at home. I will show you once we go home (he was actually mentioning about our village, where these birds can be seen anytime, except neelgai & deers).” He was keen to play cricket (his new passion for the last few months) and slightly disappointed.
The walk around the perimeter is a very pleasant one on a cold winter afternoon. Even if you are not too interested in birds; just a walk in fresh air close to nearly undisturbed nature is worth the effort of visiting this place.
When you are completely exhausted and don’t want to waste your time ‘unnecessarily’ in shopping malls or think where to go, this could be an ideal place for a day’s out to relieve your stress, away from this concrete jungle. Even if you are not an avid bird watcher (certainly most of us are not), this place will surely attract you for many reasons. Once inside, you will find yourself lost in much more space, grass and the quiet ambiance may have a great impact on you.
In whichever part you live in Gurgaon, this place should not be more than 30-35 Km and from Dhaula Kaun (New Delhi), it should be ~ 42 Km. The best time to visit the park in winters, December to February. Most of the migratory birds leave the place by end of February. The park opens for public in the morning at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. in winter and 7 p.m. during summer.
How to reach:
Throughout the way, we didn’t notice any signboard, except a small one after crossing Rajiv Chowk, mentioning ‘Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary’ 15 Km. Even, that one will surely be missed by everyone. We also missed the left turn at Point # ‘F’ (see the attached map) and drove straight for another 5 – 6 Km and come back. If anyone planning to visit the place and not familiar to Gurgaon, this map may be useful (follow the road marked in blue colour and don’t take the road marked in red colour).
Lastly, let me also share you one secret that we did have an opportunity to introduce ourselves with all of them a few days later at some other place, in a grand way, however, that’s another story, so watch out this space…