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Kangra: The Bird watcher's Paradise

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by djtravels, Oct 8, 2016.

  1. djtravels

    djtravels Member

    Conservationists have come to count on India as one of the world's foremost hotspots when it comes to biodiversity. From Siberian migratory birds, to species that resemble the Komodo Dragons of the Australian peninsula, there is much for the nature lover here.

    But, specifically for the bird watchers, Kangra is the ultimate destination. Kangra was an independent martial state with a recorded history since 4300B.C. that remained independent until the 19th century. Foreign historians including Heung Tsang(Chinese) and Ptolemy(Greek) speak highly of the "unique" birds that were found in the Kangra rulers' palaces and forts. Thankfully, the rich biodiversity of the region has remained unchanged in modern times, as no human encroachments have occurred here.

    Out of the 10000 bird species currently documented globally, 8000 can be found in Kangra, depending on the season, migratory phase, etc. 600 are indigenous to the Kangra valley itself, the rest are all visitors. If you wish to get a glimpse of the maximum species of birds, there is one special place for it.

    The best place to capture these birds on film is the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary founded in the 1970s:


    Pong Wetland

    • The Pong Wetland harbors 100,000 water birds at any one time!
    • Its the wintering habitat of Siberian and Central Asian birds.
    • As wetlands disappear around the world, the influx of birds to Pong has only increased.
    • Some frequently visible exotic species are: Falcon, Quail, Wheatear, Rollers, and Martins.
    • Rarities include: Little Gull, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Pacific Golden Plover, and Little Tern.

    Birding around Dharamshala while Trekking

    If you go on the following treks around Dharamsala/Mcleodganj, you'll be able to see a variety of bird species:

    • Trek from Dharamkot to Triund: This is a 4 hour long trek from Mcleodganj. You may want to book a room in advanced at Triund as the next trek begins from here. Some of the bird species you'll see here are - Western Tragopan, Monal, Cuckoo, Speckled wood pigeon, Shrike Babbler, White-collared blackbird, Speckled finch, etc.
    • Trek from Triund to Ilaka: This is a 2 hour long trek from Triund. Some very interesting species that you'll find here are - Solitary snipe, snow pigeon, golden bush robin, Winter wren, etc.
    • Trek to Indrahar Pass: This is a much harder trek than the two mentioned above. You MUST hire a guide because the weather can take a turn for the worst anytime. Its at an elevation of 4000 meters above sea level! It's just 5 km above Mcleodganj. Two rare species that are not found anywhere else (since they live at higher ranges) are- Snow Partridge and Himalayan Snowcock.

    The only thing you really need is a good camera. Just get to Mcleodganj and from their go out and bird watch to your heart's content.


    Nature is your only enemy in Kangra. Crime rates are almost zero, especially away from the tourist destination of McLeodganj where sometimes unscrupulous con artists do show up. For example if someone tells you, they can arrange a meeting with Dalai Lama for a fee, don't believe them. The Dalai lama meets everyone for free. The meditation centers book online. And people from all over the world live in/visit Mcleodganj and everyone's really helpful.

    You should be aware that sudden storms are a daily reality in the higher reaches. And a clear sky can turn cloudy in matter of seconds. Respect the mountains. Take proper rain gear as well as winter clothes when trekking. Also, the place is home to other more dangerous wildlife, especially at night. Leopards generally are tolerant of humans and will even pose for a photo or two, but its the bears and mountain hyenas that need to be looked out for - the Himalayan Black Bear is the single most dangerous animal of the region.


    While camping, remember to keep the camp totally safe. Snakes are a rarety but if they do show up, anti-venom is readily available throughout the region, especially at the civil hospitals. Also, forest fires are a natural and common occurrence during the summers, so it's important to clear the camping area properly.

    Finally, Since there is no crime, there really isn't a need for too many boundary walls either. The region is home to a lot of military veterans who may not like encroachments on their lands. However, once convinced that you're harmless, they may invite you in for a tea or guide you on your journey.
    briannagodess likes this.
  2. vkar

    vkar Member

    Awesome, write up. What do you think is best time of the year to visit this place. I want to go birding so, I mean the time when most birds will be there.
  3. djtravels

    djtravels Member

    It depends on the kind of birds you want to see. But, winter is still the best time to visit.

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