The Nalsarovar Lake in Gujarat is probably the largest water bird sanctuary in the country. It has been identified as one of the 15 important wetlands of India by the National Committee on Wetlands for intensive conservation. Nalsarovar may also be a potential site for consideration as a wetland of international importance. Besides being one of the largest bird sanctuaries, Nalsarovar harbours one of the highest populations of waterfowl anywhere in India. It supports a variety of other resident bird species, and it also attracts several migrant varieties.
Migratory birds start arriving around October so the period between November and February sees a wide variety of winter migrants. It is one of the best seasons to be at Nalsarovar. Indigenous species also flock in plenty during this season, affording maximum sightings to a birdwatcher. Birds start leaving the area during the dry spell between March-April.
Nalsarovar is predominantly a birdwatcher’s paradise. The wetlands of Nalsarovar attract a wide variety of birds. About 250 species of birds may be seen here, including 158 species of waterfowl. These include local residents and winter migrants. Various water birds, such as flamingos, pelicans, storks, ducks, egrets and herons flock at the lake in winter. Kingfishers and darters also make themselves at home here. You may come across cormorants fishing in the lake with their dagger-like beaks or snipes and godwits probing in the mud for food. Jacanas, Moore hens, grebes, coots and ducks have an interesting straining mechanism where they lift up plant food submerged in water in their bills and then consume only the plant matter, straining out the water.
Nalsarovar is a peaceful lake situated very close to the busy city of Ahmedabad, making it a popular weekend getaway. Avoid visiting on Sundays as it may be overcrowded with local tourists.
Thol is another bird sanctuary, about 40 km. from Ahmedabad. Swimming in the lake is not permitted.
Carry a good pair of binoculars, camera and a bird book. If possible, take a local guide or birdwatcher with you who can help you identify the various species.
The park has a small temple dedicated to Lord Krishna near the Tulsi Shyam hot springs.