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SANDI - WETLAND PARADISE


Sarus Crane

“Let’s go guys”, I was all excited about this trip. It was a family trip and Amit and I were heading off to Sandi, the beautiful wetland. This was my second trip to this paradise for migratory birds and like always I was the most excited of the lot.


Uttar Pradesh has been blessed with one of the largest number of wetlands in the country. Sandi is a wetland located in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh. The sanctuary is located at a distance of about 19 km from Hardoi on the Hardoi - Sandi road. It is about 1 km from the small town of Sandi on the Sandi - Nawabganj road. Basically it is located just outside Sandi. It was declared a bird sanctuary in 1990 with the view of protecting the local as well as migratory bird population present here. It has also been designated as a protected Ramsar site since 2020.

Indian Roller

We started off early on a beautiful December Thursday morning, my day off at the hospital. Plan was to return by 7 pm evening. The weather was nice. The sun was shining bright and the breeze was cool. It was a perfect combination for a spectacular day ahead. We headed off in our suv stocked up with lots of food and my gadgetry for birding.


Pied Kingfisher. (courtesy Mr. Ashutosh Kumar)

Our first stop was when we passed the historical city of Kannauj. Just a few kilometers from Kannauj flows the mighty river Ganga. It’s a beautiful sight. Just before the bridge starts, the place is studded with small roadside eateries. We stopped here for a cup of tea and had some pakoras and biscuits, spent some time talking to the locals and admiring the river flowing below us from the bridge. After about half an hour we resumed our journey towards Sandi.


After a two hour drive we reached the beautiful sanctuary at Sandi. We were greeted by a courteous staff along with the Foresster Mr. Ashutosh Kumar. Mr. Ashutosh ji is a proud man. He speaks volumes about the work that he does at Sandi. “You will not find a piece of plastic in

Shikra

the entire sanctuary”, Mr. Ashutosh was pointing out at his dedication for the environment and his commitment to the local biodiversity. The campus seemed beautiful, the toilets were clean and the staff ever ready to help. The moment we started off on our trek we were given strict but polite instructions not to litter and were handed a guide to the local birds of Sandi. Honestly speaking I was quite impressed at the maintenance and care that the staff took.

Oriental Magpie Robin

Sandi is an absolutely paradise. Peaceful. Not a manmade sound can be heard. The trek is a decent 7.690 km and the sanctuary covers an area of about 3.09 hectares. So basically you have to be physically fit to wander in this paradise. The place has watch towers for birders and also camouflage points where you can watch birds from a nearby distance. Sandi has been classified as an IBA (important bird area) by BNHS, Mumbai.


We started our trek and walked for about two hours, finally settling down for a

Collared Dove

delicious lunch break and then carrying on. We departed at about 5pm and were home by 7pm after a great trip.


Mallard

WHEN TO GO

The best time to visit would be anytime between November to March. Personally I suggest December or early January. The water bird census a citizen’s charter programme also takes place in January.

HOW TO REACH.

BY RAIL

Hardoi is the nearest railway station and is well connected from Delhi and Lucknow and most of the major towns. Hardoi is around 20km from the bird sanctuary.

Indian Yellow Spot Billed Duck

BY ROAD

Hardoi can be taken as a point of arrival for Sandi birds sanctuary. Hardoi is well connected by road from all the nearby major towns such as Delhi, Lucknow, and Bareilly etc.

Delhi to Hardoi – Around 480 km – about 7 hours’ drive.

Lucknow to Hardoi – Around 110 km – Around 2 hours’ drive.

Grey Heron

BY AIR

Lucknow is the nearest airport and is well connected from all major cities of India. It is about 110 km away and is a 2 hours drive.

WHERE TO STAY.

This could be a little tricky. Sandi is a very small town and I don’t think there is any decent accomodation and dining facility available.


The following could be the options available.

Lesser Whistling Duck

1. Hardoi has a few options available. Try makemytrip.com .

2. Kannauj has a three star accommodation available. Asha Hotel. Details can be found on the web. Sandi is around 2 hours’ drive from Kannauj. The benefit of arriving at Kannauj is that you can visit two beautiful wetlands. Sandi and Lakh Bahosi (https://www.unknownbirder.com/post/lakh-bahosi-my-backyard). Kannauj is also well connected by rail and road and is around 2 hours from Lucknow airport.


Darter

3. This is also a very good option for those who wish to just take only a day off. Arrive at Lucknow and take up accommodation at Lucknow. Drive down from Lucknow, visit the sanctuary and then head back to Lucknow. Lucknow has hundreds of options for stay that can cater to indivual budgets, and is just 2 hours from Sandi.


WHAT TO CARRY AND PACK

Blue Bull (Nilgai)

Winters can be quite a chilly experience in north India. Hence please prepare accordingly. Winter clothing along with a cap is mandatory. Winter sun can also be quite harsh on your skin, hence a sunscreen is always advisable. Carry plenty of water a few snacks once on the trail. The 7 km of trek will provide you with nothing else other than nature.


Purple Swamphen

WHAT TO SEE

Sandi is home to hundreds of migratory birds. It was once the abode of the famous Siberian Crane, now considered extinct. It has hundreds of Sarus cranes flocking in the summers here. Painted stork, Northern Pintail, Greylag Goose, Ibis Family, Shrikes, red crested Pochard, White eye Pochard and many many more are the winter attractions.

WHO SHOULD GO

Coomb Duck

This place is a strictly a bird watchers place. There is nothing else to do, the town has nothing else to offer, so kindly don’t have any high expectations once you are out of the sanctuary. But once in the sanctuary, be prepared for a surprise of nature’s bounty.

Indian Pond Heron

GRADE

Moderate . The track is quite easy but the length of the track could make a person tire out easily. Hence take proper precautions.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS-

1. Travel in December or early January.

2. Take at least two days off if you can.

House Sparrow (courtesy Mr. Ashutosh Kumar)

3. Try staying at Asha hotel Kannauj. You won’t regret it. Make Kannauj as your midpoint and visit Sandi one day and Lakh Bahosi the other day. Finally departing from Lucknow to destination home. If planning for a single day you could choose to stay at Hardoi or better Lucknow. Overall Lucknow would be more convenient as a start point.

4. Travel in a group. Its always more fun

5. Carry a binocular, and a camera to take home memories.

6. For further assistance please get in touch with Forestter Mr. Ashutosh Kumar @ 094155 21363. He is the person in charge at Sandi Bird Sanctuary and would be glad to help you in case of any need.

Serpent Eagle

As I wind up, I am reminded of an inspiring story related to the famous 18th century English poet William Ernest Henry. William was suffering from tuberculosis of the bone that had finally resulted in him losing one of his legs. In 1875 during the hospital stay he wrote a beautiful and inspiring poem ‘Invictus.’ The Latin word Invictus means ‘unconquerable’ or ‘undefeated.’ In his poem William focuses on courage and the resilient human spirit in the face of death. The poem was finally published in 1888. Eventually in 1903 William fell from a railway carriage that activated a latent tubercular infection which finally led to his death.

In these testing times when the world has changed, I leave you with a few inspiring lines from the ‘Invictus’

“Under the bludgeoning's of chance,

My head is bloody, but unbowed…..

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.”

William Ernest Henry ( Invictus )

ADD LIFE TO DAYS

NOT DAYS TO LIFE

Take care. Stay safe.

Ravi.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:-

Mr. Ashutosh Kumar, Forrester, Sandi Bird Sanctuary .

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1 Comment


nikhil_chandak
Aug 16, 2020

Your blogs are worth waiting for.... One could get all necessary information. Although I am not an ardent bird watcher but because of you I can identify few of them... Keep writing....

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