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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 rarity 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.
    Prakriti and briannagodess like 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.
  4. Alexandoy

    Alexandoy Member

    I am quite surprised with this thread. To be honest, my impression of India is one country that is congested not only in the urban cities but also in the rural provinces. Pardon me for that impression. I think I will have to note down Kangra so it can be included in our itinerary when the opportunity comes. But I don’t think I would go camping there because my age is not comfortable with such activities anymore. And with the zero crime rate, well, that’s a thing to boast about. Yeah, I understand that opportunitsts are everywhere because they think tourists have a lot of money and easy to scam. But Kangra, as you have written, is generally a good place to visit.
  5. iamawriter

    iamawriter Member

    Our garden alone has countless birds that come to enjoy the fruits from our trees and frolic in our bird bath. It is a joy to listen to their chirps. The cuckoos dominate the scene. The drongo is a unique kind of bird that can chirp in several different ways including a cat's meow. The Book of Indian birds written by Salim Ali the famous ornithologist has it all
    Prakriti likes this.
  6. Prakriti

    Prakriti New Member

    nope. I lived in rural India with no neighbors... just my family my home and trees and birds. :)
  7. iamawriter

    iamawriter Member

    Our garden is designed with birds in mind. Much of the fruit that grows in our garden is food for these birds. We have parrots that love to eat the Star fruit. Cuckoos like the Noni and those small birds like the nectar from flowers. During the pepper season there is a big crowd that is seen all over the garden. It is a joy to feel their presence

    Here is a collage of some of them.

    Prakriti likes this.
  8. Prakriti

    Prakriti New Member

    That's so wonderful. Even i have that kind of plan for my own garden one day. The one creature which I would want to avoid is snakes. cant stand them. :(
  9. iamawriter

    iamawriter Member

    Where there is greenery there are bound to be snakes. If you have paths all around,which I have, it is safe to stroll in gardens. Our dog alerts us if she spots a snake. They too need to survive.