Located close enough to New Delhi to serve as a sort of outpost for many of that metropolis’s business dealings, Gurgaon is a leading finance and industrial center that houses offices for more than half of all the world’s Fortune 500 companies. Once a rural, dusty, agricultural center, these days you’ll find Gurgaon bustling and bursting with people, deals, skyscrapers, and the struggles that come from its recent impressive growth. Still, there is plenty to see, do, eat and experience there that has nothing to do with fretting over the world of business.
One of Gurgaon’s most resplendent offerings is Sultanpur National Park, a bird sanctuary unlike any other that features a remarkable array of other fauna as well. Because the national park is such a hot spot for birds and bird fanatics, they’ve installed four watchtowers throughout the park — each situated in a different area with different habitats in order to facilitate the widest range of viewing possible. The park also features The Educational Interpretation Centre, which helps orient visitors so they can get the most out of their visit. Ideal for a short holiday to Gurgaon, here is but a sampling of what visitors and bird lovers will find in store for them at Sultanpur National Park.
Declared a bird sanctuary in 1972, Sultanpur has long been an area that attracted and housed myriad birds. It was due to the efforts of Peter Jackson, the famed ornithologist, that the land was set aside for its current use, and in 1989, the bird sanctuary was upgraded to a national park. Throughout that time, the thousands of resident birds have kept up business as usual. Roughly 150 species of birdlife in and around the national park throughout the year, and they range widely in behavior, size, color, and call. From water birds to birds of prey, some of the more notable species that make their home in the national park include:
- Purple sunbird
- Little cormorant
- India-crested lark
- Great egret
- Bank mynah
- White-throated kingfisher
Between 90 and 100 different species of migratory birds pass through Sultanpur National Park each winter, and they travel from as far away as Siberia, Africa, Europe and Afghanistan. During the winter months, the birds come through in massive numbers to feed in the park’s easily accessed low brush. The summer finds smaller amounts of migratory birds in the area, but there are still some that make their way through as they head to cooler climates. Some of the migratory birds you might spy on your visit are:
- Siberian crane
- Long-billed pipit
- Rosy pelican
- Grey heron
It isn’t just birds that will call for the attention of your eyes and ears, either. The fauna scattered throughout Sultanpur is impressive as well. From blackbuck, nilgai (or blue bull), and hog deer to wild dogs, striped hyena, and the Indian porcupine, wild creatures abound, making the national park an always-fascinating — and slightly thrilling — place.
One of the reasons Sultanpur National Park is such an ideal place to watch birds is due largely to the fact that the flora in the national park is ideal for bird watching, as there are few tall trees to obscure the view. The vegetation ranges from tropical to deciduous, and there are an abundant variety of grasses making for a rich, thick carpet of the brush. The trees range from the dhok and Khair — a stubby, thorny tree — to acacia shrubs and the banyan tree — the official tree of India. One of the most pleasing sights in the park and sanctuary are the massive amounts of bougainvillea that thrive here in the dry soil and bring their bright flowers to bloom every spring and early summer.
When you visit Sultanpur National Park, there are a few things to keep in mind. The park is closed every Tuesday, and it is open the rest of the week from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walking the perimeter will take you roughly two hours time, and a good pair of binoculars isn’t a must, but they will greatly enhance your experience of the place. Whether you’re a seasoned ornithologist or simply in need of a simple getaway, go to Gurgaon. Its bird sanctuary and the national park will refresh you and remind you that the world is a vibrant, teeming place that in some places, at least, cares nothing about the world of business.