My world still doesn’t fit in 18-55 mm! – The day trip to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

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...”

Sultanpur National Park

Sultanpur National Park

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.

Lifeline of the millennium city

Lifeline of the millennium city

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.

Gurgaon at night

Gurgaon at night

The city of Millennium

The city of Millennium

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 quite 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.

Well maintained road

Well maintained road

Restaurants - 5/10

Restaurants – 5/10

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

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.

One watch tower, out of four

One watch tower, out of four

Walking track

Walking track

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Path, which would lead you up to near the water

Path, which would lead you up to near the water

Lake, full of water. Did you notice deers?

Lake, full of water. Did you notice deers?

Deers, crossing the water body

Deers, crossing the water body

…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.

White Wagtail

White Wagtail

Ducks?

Ducks?

Pankauri  (Rhyothemis-variegata)

Pankauri (Rhyothemis-variegata)

Waiting for the hunt

Waiting for the hunt

Heron?

Heron?

Most of them left, due to extreme cold in January

Neelgai

Neelgai

Lake, full of water

Lake, full of water

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.

Tired...you can use me

Tired…you can use me

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.

You will find yourself lost in much more space, grass

You will find yourself lost in much more space, grass

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).

Route Map

Route Map

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…

28 Comments

  • SilentSoul says:

    Very good log Amitava. description is good and fotos matching. The foto of Gurgaon at night is superb. How much shutter time you used for this foto ?

    • Tx SS for liking the post.

      Was busy in preparation of Saraswati Puja (Basanta Panchami), hence couldn’t reply earlier.
      Shutter speed was 15 sec in this case and one must use Tripod. It was shot from our office and place is ‘Bristol Chowk’….right now the chowk is no more exists…courtesy Rapid Metro.

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    A very nice post Amitva Ji.

    I m staying at Delhi from last 7 years but only one time had gone there & spent a night. At that time there was nothing like this. Now it seems a very nice place.

    Please also mention the visit/booking procedure to spend a day in sancuary.

    Regards.

    • Tx Saurabh

      Yeah….the place has changed a lot in last ten years and change is ongoing…still miles to go
      You don’t need to book anything in advance…just reach there. The entry fee is Rs.5/- (Parking, nominal fee for Camera and Ticket costs us Rs.45 for two). Parking, though small, but good and manageable…If you can manage, go in the morning…reach there by 7, spend sometime and you will definitely come back with happy memories

  • Nice post and thanks for bringing it up here.
    Yes Delhi is changing and catching up however but slowly.

  • Tx Praveen for liking the post.

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Happy Basant Panchami.

    Nice post with beautiful pics and a good title.

    “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”.

    You said it so correctly, we should have such places around us with natural air, light and where everyone can enjoy other than restaurant and Malls. Here In Chennai , we are so fortunate to stay so close to beach and parks. We even have so many big temples where we visit every week just to ensure that my son runs once in a week as no space in colony where kids can have any outdoor activity or play.

    Waiting for next secret story :)

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Happy Basant Panchami.
      Today, we have Saraswati Puja at home and it feels great.
      Thank you for the wishes.

      Tx for liking this post.
      Absolutely. We do miss river bed or beach like Marine Drive in Mumbai, Marina in Chennai and the Ganga in Kolkata. How I wish to be at a place like all this. We really need such places very badly in Gurgaon. There are many well maintained park but without proper lighting and security, you will be scared to stay after evening. The one thing our children is definitely lacking is space…and most of the RWAs are acting like “Selfish Giant”…hope you have read the story…

      The story is in draft stage…but, will be here very soon.

  • hlsingh says:

    i have been also to this place, liked very much, and as you have rightly mentioned there is lack of signage ….except at one place….due to lack of signboard at crucial places i had lost valuable time befor i could reach here….

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you.
      This is really nice place and we loved the place very much…still wondering our decision to keep it pending for so long…hopefully, we will be a regular from now on.
      Yeah, it’s really sad that there is no proper signage. It would have really been better.
      We also lost the direction just before the Park…
      Take care,

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Greetings on the auspicious occasion of Saraswati puja, Amitava.

    Lovely blog. Amitava. As you have correctly pointed out, more than anything else, concrete jungles a.k..a. cities need parks to improve the quality of air and to bring down the ambient temperature. One tree equals ten air conditioners and in addition it also absorbs carbon dioxide produced by human activities and converts it it back to oxygen. Since cities are built after trees are cut, it is essential to compensate for the loss of trees by planting many more in parks like Sultanpur. A megapolis like the NCR region needs 10 Sultanpurs with lots of trees and water bodies. In addition to environmental benefits, the city dwellers will have a great place to go and get a respite from the stresses of urban life.

    I must say that your photography has improved by leaps and bounds. Some of the images are truly great. I would like to share a photography tip with you. When the shutter speed is lower than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens, you need a tripod. If your focal length is 200 mm, then you need a tripod if you shoot at speeds lower than 1/200th of a second. If you shoot at 50 mm zoom, then you can shoot without a tripod at speeds over 1/50.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you for your wishes, DL and also liking the post.

      Happy Saraswati Puja to you. It’s a big day for us, though still in office. We just can’t forget the day.

      Yes, we need more such places in the city…these are lungs of the city.
      Regarding Photography – Thank you once again for appreciating. I used to play with a very old camera of my father, almost similar to what Sushant has (though not that big)…then AGFA 200, Pentax, Olympus, Sony/Nikon Digicam, (I still have all of them at my home)…for a long I want to have a DSLR…but when I have one, within 4-5 months, I want to have few more lens :-)…greedy Amitava…as you know there is no end…you need to stretch yourself…how far you can, I always think!

      Tx for the tip, I need more from you and everyone…I will definitely try, still learning every day…and we should not hesitate to learn…I will be happy if I will be able to treat you all…

      Take care,

  • Stone says:

    Fantastic stuff Amitava.
    I used to work in Gurgaon in 2003, so I can instantly feel the connection with this post; Gurgaon of then and now has changed “a lot” and yet remained same :-)
    For outsiders, Gurgaon is just another place where they travel for work and want to get out as soon as possible, so it’s difficult to think beyond it or places. Thanks for a lot for showing Gurgaon in a totally different light.

    And you already know what needs to be done when world doesn’t fit in 18-55 mm lenses, :-) greedy we all are :-)

    Take care

    • Tx Sandip…echo the same feelings…it has changed a lot, yet remained the ‘same’; true.

      yeah…I am checking the price almost every day, in different sites…waiting for the best deal…may be it will take few more months…these are expensive; since by nature, I am not a replacement buyer, I need thorough research and buy those (if I can) which suits my capabilities too and I am yet to zero down my choice…let’s see

  • Gita AM says:

    Very nice Amitava.

    I have only been once to Gurgaon to visit someone, I thought I might be in Singapore with all the fancy buildings, malls, broad boulevards et al!

    The images are beautiful in their own right even if you felt your 18-55 to be inadequate.

    I can well understand how you felt as just a couple of days ago I suddenly spotted some flamingoes in a mangrove creek but I had only the 18-55 of my Nex5 to capture them, how much I wished I had my 30x P&S instead but how many cameras to carry along and who would have expected to see wildlife or for that matter anything particularly photo worthy where I am right now.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    • Thank you.
      That’s illusion Gita…miles…miles to go to come close to Singapore…

      Tx for liking the pictures…mangrove creek? where? I am used to this kind of environment back home in Sundanban area since my childhood…yeah, same thing happened with us most of the time…something we don’t expect, but suddenly they surface…it happened with me as well (see it in my next post)…scheduled on 20th…

  • Vipin Gaur: Thank you Amitava da for bringing Sultanpur to us! It was nice & refreshing, certainly ignited the feeling of visiting this jungle soon (this has been pending since long)…it’s difficult to go into the mountains every weekend…but such places surely fill the gap a little bit…I tried exploring Asola Bhatti Sanctuary almost at same time in mid January this year, but I was missing a lake here…& some birds too since water body is a major camping ground for birds & other wildlife as mentioned by you…

    I was chatting up with my friend this morning about NBCC’s coming plans for the residential colonies & was amazed to learn that all the single story buildings near our place will be converted to high rise multi storey buildings (as tall as 18 floors)…it made me think & imagine how difficult it will be to breathe among such high rising buildings?…such places (parks & jungles) will be a great relief at that time…I don’t know what will happen to the ASI monuments nearby…:(…

    —-
    Thank you Vipin and I wish you all the best for your trip to Sultanpur. You will definitely feel refresh. Suggest you to go at the earliest, if you are planning to go this year. We did ignore the place for a very long time, which is similar a distance to reach INA or Dhaula Kaun from my place…and see what we missed all these years. I have heard about Asola Bhatti but don’t know the route, can you tell me how to reach there.

    Regarding residential colonies coming up in your nearby places, even if you go to Sultanpur, you will be surprised to see the construction sites in and around the Park (colonies are coming up within a range of 4-5 Km)…may be in another few years, Birds will also stop coming to this park due to noise and pollution…I hope & pray that it shouldn’t happen.

    • Vipin says:

      Hi Amitava da, it is very simple to get to Asola Bhatti. If you are coming from Gurgaon, the best is to take MG Road (Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road) which later becomes MB Road (Mehrauli-Badarpur Road) near Mehrauli. Following MB Road (straight from Mehrauli via Khanpur), you reach Sangam Vihar red light (near Batra Hospital). After crossing this red light, there is a cut on your right after around 300 mtr near Tughlakabad Fort which takes you towards Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range (on your left). After around 500 mtrs from Shooting Range, you see Asola Bhatti board on your right side…here you are!…routing from Gurgaon will be Ifco Chowk-Andheria Moad-Mehrauli-Khanpur-Sangam Vihar-Karni Singh Shooting Range-Asola Bhatti…please let me know when you plan to be there, I would like to join you (if i’ll be free)…my cell # is 9560692929

  • Nirdesh:

    Hi Amitava,

    Given a choice between spending a sunday in a mall or in the midst of nature and birds, the choice is obvious. It does recharge the batteries for the coming week life of Delhi roads.

    I have been to Bharatpur and the next stop should be Sultanpur before the birds book their homebound tickets.

    And yes, I still have not bought that tripod yet for those night lights!

    —-
    Absolutely correct and how I wish to do that again and again.

    How is Bharatpur this year? Do go to Sultanpur at the earliest. Most of the birds already left due to extreme cold condition in January, but still there are many – if you are staying in Gurgaon – I would suggest you to reach early morning (even you can try from Delhi also) – you won’t be disappointed.
    Wishing you all the best. Do share your experiences with all of us…I am sure Editorial Team wouldn’t mind few posts on the same locations…

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Good idea about covering areas around us. The post on Sultanpur is quite informative and importantly, tells us about tourist places near home.

    It seems that there is no guide service (apart from lack of sign boards, etc as brought out here) – which obviously means that a normal visitor will not be able to make out much about the flora/fauna there. Our trip to Bharatpur could have turned uninspiring – had it not been for the guide who kept us engaged apart from adding on to our knowledge base.

    Enjoyed the post…
    Auro.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Tx Auro.
      If you haven’t been there, you can also plan for a visit, if not now, make a plan for end of the year or early next year. December to February will be ideal.

      Unfortunately, no guide service was available or we couldn’t see them. It would definitely have been better if someone is there to guide you. We have also taken guide in Bharatpur whenever we went there and they are really useful.

  • Vipin says:

    Hi Amitava da, I took a ride to Sultanpur yesterday on my cycle. Your map was dot right, though some people told me some alternate ways, but I followed your map and here I was…though I had the same issue with my camera as you had especially capturing birds, but you were lucky to take some close shots….thanks for your help with this.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      You mean you went there in your bi-cycle from Delhi…just too good…for the last few years I wanted to buy a good bi-cycle but for some unknown reasons I just postponed…this year again the date is fixed and how I wish to have one by June this year…

      So, how is your trip – enjoyed, glad that you find the map is good, that’s why I thought to keep it in the post…that’s true and the post heading “my-world-still-doesnt-fit-in-18-55-mm” only because of that….next time whenever you are coming to Gurgaon, do let me know

  • Nandan Jha says:

    For some reason, I could never develop a liking for Gurgaon. :-). Have been visiting the city for last 15 years every few months and the malls and all the sky-scrapers are indeed like being in Singapore but somehow the place appears dry to me :-). May be it is just me.

    The biggest think I like about GGN is that it is one of only two cities in this big nation, where one can get a freshly brewed beer. The other one is Blr. It is a shame though that while all over the world, one can find local breweries, one can not get it in Delhi or even Mumbai.

    Coming back to log, very well written (from the heart :-) and pretty good shots. Your effort and drive to make the holiday count has paid off. I look forward to reading about the other story which you mention in the end,

    And finally many thanks for recreating the comments which we lost during the outage.

    @ Vipin – Very happy to read that you have started cycling. Guess you have recovered completely. Take care.

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    I can understand your feelings and believe me, you are not alone – there are many around.
    It is not that I do not like Gurgaon, where I will have my own home in few months time which I couldn’t even dreamt when I left home, but I don’t know why I always feel isolated in this big city, may be staying away from everyone for so long here.

    Now I know what you would love to have when you will be in Gurgaon, may be in future whenever you will here and there are many good places in Gurgaon.

    Thank you for liking the post. Actually, on every Friday night we think where to go…we miss those days at home where weekends are meant for guests or visiting someone’s house when you are a part of a very big family, here unfortunately, we have almost none and most of the time you will find us on the road, driving aimlessly or visiting same spots numerous times. Yeah, actually it was a handshake kind of experience…I will bring it here very soon.

    I am aware of the hacking problem of the site and just thought to recreate and knew you won’t mind for this. If all of us can recreate the comments received in regard to our respective posts, we won’t lose much, if you have to restore from last available back-up, in case of any eventuality.

    Hope the bad phase is over finally. Did you find out the reason?

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