Escape. Escape from that desk you’re at five times a week and get away from the snaking city roads stretched to breaking point by the crawling traffic. This Diwali, plan a trip out of the city you live in and go somewhere wild and untamed instead. There’s no dearth of things you can do outdoors, but if you’re looking for an experience that’ll give you some peace of mind and that quiet you’ve been so sorely looking forward to, then we suggest birding. Yes, birding – that’s what experienced birdwatchers call it. Travel to some of the most beautiful bird sanctuaries in the country and revel in the silence as you’re surrounded by nature. At first, birdwatching could prove to be a challenge – it takes an incredible amount of patience at times – but the rewards will soon be apparent as your detox that city life out of your system and learn to be at peace with yourself as you peer through those birdwatching binoculars as you wait for the perfect photograph to come about.
Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
India’s oldest national park doubles up as an excellent birdwatching location, too. Named after the famed hunter-turned-conservationist, Jim Corbett, this gorgeous park located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand benefits greatly from its sub-Himalayan geographical identity – dense deciduous forests and woods cover most of the land here, making it perfect for some very rewarding birdwatching.
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Raganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka
Being one of South India’s best birdwatching locations is a great achievement, but it’s even more impressive when you realise how small Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is. Located on the banks of the Kaveri river, the entire sanctuary comprises just six islets and occupies just 0.67 square kilometres in area. You won’t spend a lot of time hunting down birds here.
Eaglenest Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
Like most places located in the North-East of India, not too much was known about this sanctuary. Until 2006, that is, when it became the site for the discovery of the first species of bird found in India in over 50 years. When famed Indian birdwatcher and astronomer, Ramana Athreya, discovered the tiny Bugun liocichla there, he could never have guessed that he would spark an exodus of eager birdwatchers to this little-known, yet stunning, bird sanctuary.
Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan
Also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, this extremely popular tourist destination is famous for the exotic and endangered species that migrate there every winter. Great care has been taken to make this park possible – primary amongst them the fact that this is a man-mad wetland, replete with paved walkways and cycle-rickshaws for tired birdwatchers. No wonder then that it was awarded the status of a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.
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You can’t talk about birdwatching in India without mentioning the only tropical bird sanctuary in the country. Located just east of Kochi, this is one of South India’s prime birding destinations. And, much like Ranganathittu, Thattekkad is another contained location which is smaller in size than your typical sanctuary – just 25 square kilometres in area – but packed to the rafters with birds of all shapes and sizes.
Nal Sarovar Bird Santuary, Gujarat
Sometimes, you don’t even need to travel very far out of the city to return to nature. Located just West of Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest wetland sanctuary is mainly inhabited by migratory birds in winter and spring. Get there just before sunrise as the lake is calm and quiet with flocks of birds all around, or take a horse ride around the lake. Either way, you’re in for a calming and memorable experience.
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