Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary showed up on Google maps as I was planning my trip to Bithoor from Lucknow. I zoomed in and saw a huge water body and assumed there must be a good population of birds. So, I kept it in my backup list to visit if time permits on way back from Bithoor.
I am so happy we stopped here despite being tired. We walked 4-5 km inside the sanctuary, but it was such a refreshing walk. There were hardly any tourists there despite it being a Sunday. A few families we met at the ticket counter also walked less than half a kilometer and returned back.
Day Trip from Lucknow to Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary
This Bird Sanctuary is actually a large wetland with small islands popping here and there. The forest department has created a walking trail around the lake. The best part is they have made pugdundee like walking paths that let you stand in the middle of the water bodies and watch birds all around. In fact, walking on this narrow strip connecting the opposite ends of the lake with blue water all around and thousands of birds basking in the sun will remain in my memory forever.
If you sit quietly for some time, you will see groups of birds flying around, playing in the lake as if it is their playground. Watching them in flight is a delight for someone who loves to photograph birds.
I did not carry a camera per se during this short trip to Lucknow. All images were captured with the mobile phone. For bird photography carry your camera, preferably with a zoom feature or zoom lens. Keep patience, visit at the time of Sunrise or 90 minutes before Sunset to find a variety of birds up close and in action. During the season, this sanctuary will not disappoint birders.
Some birds to spot here include:
- Northern Pintail
- Different species of Pochards
- Pond Herons, Purple Heron & Grey Heron
- Purple Moorhen
- Spot-billed Duck
- Teals like Lesser Whistling Teal & Garganey Teal
- Cattle & Intermediate Egrets
- Common Coot
- Bronze-winged Jacana
- Asian Openbill Stork
- Sarus Crane
- Black-headed Ibis
- Black-necked Stork
- Bar-headed Goose
- Endangered species like Egyptian vulture and Pallas’s fish eagle
Formed in 1984, the Nawabganj bird sanctuary is spread across 224 hectares. It has been renamed ‘Shaheed Chandrashekhar Aad Pakshi Vihar’ in 2015. Though popularly it continues to be known as Nawabganj bird sanctuary. It is located right on the Lucknow-Kanpur highway and technically falls in the Unnao district. The sanctuary has been designated as Wetland of International Importance in September 2019.
It is home to more than 250 species of migratory birds that come from the North.
Walkways in this sanctuary are the best I have seen in any sanctuary. There are watchtowers at various places. But since I was visiting during the day and without binoculars, I did not climb them.
I could see boats in their end-of-life state at the edges of the lake at one place. So, I asked about boating at the counter, but they said, boating is not done for tourists. I assume it may be used by the forest department for their work in the sanctuary.
Later while reading about the sanctuary, I read that it is home to many of the species of reptiles and snakes. A case of ignorance is bliss, as this knowledge would have come in the way of my walking in the wild in a carefree manner.
At places you see water gathered around the trees and flowers growing here and there. It looked like a scene out of Indian scriptures, where all you can see is nature in its myriad forms and colors, with almost no human being around. Closer to the entry gate, there are benches for you to sit and admire the birds.
There is a tourism department-operated motel where you can stay overnight. It is a good option if you want to do birding in the early morning or if you generally love spending time closer to nature. They also have a restaurant where you can get food. There is a forest rest house as well but you need to book it through the forest department.
As per the brochure I picked up at the sanctuary, this is also the place where Lakshman took rest while on his way back to Ayodhya after leaving Sita in Bithoor.
There is a cycle track. And a deer park, which I did not notice. There is a small children’s park, close to the entrance.
Overall, a visit to this sanctuary can be a full day amidst pleasant nature. Something all of us from the cities and larger towns should visit once in a while for a thorough refreshment/rest from the daily running around the concrete buildings and vehicular pollution. To escape to nature, greenery, fresh air, peacefulness and see as far as you can kind of feel.
- You can easily visit this bird sanctuary from either Lucknow or Kanpur as a day trip
- Be prepared to walk a lot, so wear comfortable shoes
- The best time to visit is winters i.e., from November to February when a lot of migratory birds are visiting
- You get food outside the sanctuary, but nothing inside the sanctuary. It is not even advisable to carry food, so take your fill before you walk inside.
- Binoculars are recommended
- The ticket counter needs ID proof, so carry your ID cards
- The ticket price is nominal, but the camera fee is hefty. No fee for mobile cameras thankfully.
- You can go cycling if you like.