The Harike Wildlife Sanctuary is rated among the most important wildlife sanctuaries not only in Punjab but India. The sanctuary is also popular as Hari-ke-Pattan. The sanctuary spreads over an area of 86 Sq. Km and is located at the convergence of the rivers Sutlej and Beas. The sanctuary is ideally located on the border of Ferozepur and Amritsar. The sanctuary spans around the Harike Lake, which is triangular in shape. The barrage connects the city of Amritsar with Ferozepur, bhatinda and Faridkot by a national highway.
The area has recorded around 26 species of fish and over 7 species of turtle. The sanctuary is also home to several mammals. The endangered species of Smooth Indian Otter and the Testudine Turtle are also a part of the sanctuary. The sanctuary spreads over the wetland and this shallow water body attracts several birds during the winter season. The sanctuary is a haven for bird watchers; birds from as far as Siberia and the Arctic visit the sanctuary. During the peak season as many as 45,000 ducks have been recorded in the sanctuary.
The Harike Lake is particularly famous for attracting large number of diving ducks like tufted ducksand, common pochard and crusted pochard. The other birds that can be seen during the migratory season include the common teal, wigeon, shoveller, pintail and the brahminy duck. There are around 375 birds that have been recorded in the sanctuary. Among these there are around 40 species of migratory birds that visit the sanctuary. Three mud mounds have been built around the marshland to increase the nesting sites for the birds.
There are several other attractions located close to the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary can easily be accessed from Amritsar and Ludhina via Moga. It is an excellent place to visit for anyone interested in seeing different types of birds in their natural surroundings. Visitors should carry binoculars and cameras with them but should be careful and should not to scare away the birds and animals. For all nature lovers the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary is a place worth visiting.
The wetland was created in 1953 because of the construction of a barrage at the meeting point of the Beas and Sutlej. The Harike Lake and its surrounding wetland spread over an area of 41 sq. km and was established as a sanctuary in 1982. The wetland holds international significance and was established by the International Body of Wetlands as a Ramsar Site under the UNDP in the year 1990.
The area of Harike Wildlife Sanctuary was enlarged to 86 sq. km in 1992.
Amaltas, Bel, Bahera, Drek, Chitta siris, Elephant Grass, Water Hyacinth, Khair, Kala Siris, Nara, Khajoor, Gandhela, Puthkanda, etc.
Avifauna in the area include the White-winged Tern, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Hen Harrier, Pallas's Gull, Tufted Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Brown-headed Gull, Watercock, Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, White-browed Fantail, Yellow-legged Gull, White-rumped Vulture, Indian Skimmer, Eurasian Sparrow hawk, Horned Grebe, Eurasian Hobby, Black-necked Grebe, Common Wood shrike, Brown Shrike, White-tailed Stonechat, Rufous-vented Prinia, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Striated Grass bird, Sulphur-bellied Warbler and the Cetti's Bush Warbler. Animals dominantly seen in the sanctuary are Jungle cat, Indian wild Boar, Mongoose, Smooth Indian Otter and Jackal.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary is during the winter months. This is when the area is visited by several migratory birds and the weather is also enjoyable.
Summer and monsoon months are not recommended for visiting the sanctuary because of the extreme hot weather during the summers and the heavy rainfall in the monsoon season.
How to Reach Harike Wildlife Sanctuary
The Harike Wildlife Sanctuary is located close to Amritsar about 60 Km away and Ludhiana around 104 Km away. From Amritsar buses, taxis and private cars are conveniently available to reach the sanctuary. Visitors who wish to access the sanctuary from Ludhiana should travel till Moga and then further to the sanctuary. From Moga Harike is at a distance of 40 Km.
The nearest major railhead and airport to the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary are in Amritsar. The city is connected to all major cities of Punjab and India by rail and flights. From Amritsar, visitors can easily hire taxis or cabs or take government or private buses to reach the sanctuary.
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