Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica) on flower.
Sultanpur National Park is in the Indian state of Haryana, and just a few kilometres from the heart of Gurgaon. Although this area was once famed for its salt exports, this industry was shut down when it was no longer deemed economically viable. This happened in the early 20th century. At the urgings of respected ornithologist, Peter Jackson, Indira Gandhi (founder of the Delhi Birdwatching Society and Prime Minister of India during the 1960’s), passed orders for the Sultanpur Jheel to be declared an official bird sanctuary. This occurred in 1972. In 1989, Sultanpur was proclaimed a National Park. This park is famed for its variety of birds, both local and migratory. These fascinating avian species arrived during a time before industrial and residential development, when vast areas of the land were waterlogged. Birds migrated from miles around to feed in this abundant land.
As people began to move into the area, building homes, cultivating crops and establishing businesses, it was necessary for them to implement effective drainage systems, which naturally led the water away from the land and into formal networks. In order to maintain the biodiversity and keep these birds happy, the park has artificially revived water from the Jamuna River and uses that for the habitat and watering of the animals. Some of these popular birds include the Purple Sunbird, Black-headed Ibis, Weaver Bird, Bank Mynah, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted Owl, Red-wattled Lapwing, Paddyfield Pipit, Laughing Dove, Green Bea-eater, Crested Lark, Red-vented Bulbul, Indian Cormorant, Gray and Black francolins, Northern Pintail, Yellow Wagtail, Black-winged Stilt, Siberian Crane, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Asian Koel and many more. Some of these are migratory, while others stay in the Sultanpur National Park all year round.
In addition to the impressive array of birds, the Sultanpur National Park is also home to many wildlife species. These maintain a high level of biodiversity and all play an important role in the maintenance and balance of the environment and its natural processes and systems. Some of the common species include the Indian Porcupine, hedgehog, Caracal, Four-horned Antelope, leopard, wild cat, Nilgai, mongoose, Striped Hyena and Blackbuck.
Because this park is fairly small in terms of the physical area that it occupies, visitors are able to walk its entire perimeter in approximately two hours. This gives them an up-close-and-personal experience of the fauna and flora that flourish under these geographical conditions and sub-tropical climate. Sultanpur National Park has erected four towers from which to watch the animals from an elevated position. There is also an education centre, which includes an interpretation centre, where visitors can learn more about the natural wonders of this park and its surrounds, as well as about how to protect them in the future.
The best time to visit in terms of optimal weather conditions and the abundance of birdlife is between October and March. The commercial and cultural hub of Delhi is less than 50 kilometres from the park. Nearby tourist attractions include the Red Fort, the world-famous Lotus Temple, India Gate and Qutub Minar.
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