Category Archives: orinthology

A Visit To KCK Simriti Ban

(Click on Image to view in gallery)

It is always a pleasure to visit the Karpur Chandra Kulish Simriti Ban on the Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg,Jaipur,Rajasthan. The fascinating aspect is the green oasis in a world dominated by sand as Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan a desert state in India. It has water & trees & plants to attract the local birds and other insects & butterflies etc.  It has lot of secluded corners where benches are provided by the administration for the young and not so young couples visiting the park.

My only suggestion is that they should provide an hour each in the morning & evening for nature lovers who would like to photograph the birds and the flora & fauna as the park is very busy during the visiting hours for a serious study to be done. Furthermore boys being boys some of the boys are  intentionally disruptive to the peaceful atmosphere in the park.

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A Walk At The Man Sagar Lake

( Click on the image to view in Gallery)

Whenever I get a chance, I take a morning walk along the Mansagar Lake, just like so many other Jaipur residents and tourists from outside Jaipur. It does not have any thing to do with getting exercise in the morning. It is just a fascination of  a resident of a desert state with a large body of water, greenery, sunrise & birds. I also took a few pictures which are enclosed herewith.

The dirt & general neglect were a pathetic site. This site is THE prime tourist spot of Jaipur. Any tourist visiting Jaipur visits here once at least.

Some stop gap arrangement should be made for the up keep of the site till the courts have their say.

The Salt Lake of Sambhar

Sambhar,SaltLake

About 65km from Jaipur the city of Sambhar with the salt lake & the migratory birds it attracts and the holy places of Shakmbhari Mata temple & Devyani Tank is an ideal spot for a day trip excursion out of Jaipur.
Sambhar,SaltLake

Sambhar Lake is the largest salt lake in India. It has produced salt for more than 700 years. Three small towns of Nawa, Sambhar & Gudha are located on the banks of this lake & all are engaged in producing salt. The salt produced from the Sambhar Lake water is much more salty than the salt produced from ocean water & it comes in three different colors, ordinary white & pink & grey.
Sambhar,SaltLake

In 1876 this area was connected by narrow gauge train. Trains were a boon to this area as the lake is spread over an area of 190 sq km. The trains not only connected the area effectively but also were a big help in shifting the salt from one place to another.You can see these trains or trolleys in use even today.
Sambhar

A.O.Hume, the founder of Indian National Congress (INC), was the first commissioner of Sambhar Salt. He was also a keen ornithologist.
Sambhar,SaltLake,Salt Museum

There is a detailed report on the method of salt production in a historical account written during the time of the rule of Aurangzeb. Abul Fazal has also mentioned Sambhar in accounts written by him.

The Circuit House of Sambhar was built by the British in 1880. There is a salt museum housed in a heritage building nearby, also.
Sambhar

During the monsoon the fresh water of the rains attracts a lot of migratory birds. But they fly away once the weather starts getting hotter and the lake water starts becoming salty.

You should take packed lunch and lot of water and cold drinks with you. You can get ice and softdrinks at the Sambhar Bus-stand, also. If you like eating dhaba food, the dhabas at the Nawa bus-stand are a good option. Sambhar is also famous for its feenees, a sweet dish.

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Photos Of Some Common Birds Found In The Parks & Gardens Of Jaipur.

OWL

Spotted Owlet (Athene brama indica)

Recently a cousin of mine,Madhav Rathore, an experienced, enthusiastic birder, bought a  Canon EOS 7D with a huge telephoto lens. When I kidded him about buying   such an expensive  camera he insisted on taking me birding in  the Central Park one evening. That is when the use of the camera became apparent to me.  He was shooting birds perched at the top of tallest of trees where as I was limited to shooting squirrels and birds sitting in front of me in the grass.

But I got hooked to birding that day. I am no expert birder but by my own experience it is far easier to watch birds today. I take a picture of the whichever  feathered friend which dares to cross my path and later on I put an ID to it with the help of a couple of Books. Where the books fail The Net comes  to help. This method helps to engrave the names of the birds in the mind too. So the next time I come across the same bird I  say smugly,” That is Brahminy Mayna you know !” and so on…

One thing you will notice is the exotic names of the birds.  I can bet you powers that be who gave names to the birds put more thought in naming the birds than in naming their newborn sons. They have names like starling,Black  Drongo,Grebe,darter etc. And each bird has its own charm. Own uniqueness which will hold you in thrall.

I have been to the Central Park many times before the day we went birding but I  did not notice the birds before that day. Oh I could see the pigeons and the doves but the other beauties were hidden behind a muslin curtain as it were. Somebody had to  point the birds out to me. Do you know  usually we see two types of Doves in Jaipur one is Laughing Dove and the other is the Eurasian Collared Dove. And that the house sparrow may be endangered soon enough! Who would have thought of it!

I have been posting photos I take around Jaipur to www.flickr.com for some time now. If you see the stats on the photos you will realize that people like photos of flowers and plants more than photos of birds. I do not know why that is so but we have to be more aware of the beauty surrounding us in the form of birds more. Birds forage in the early morning but people go for their morning walk just then too. So the birds perch themselves on the highest branches of the trees. I suppose they come down later. I do not know.There are some birds which do not mind people at all and are all over the grass in the Park.

Now a days in every home there is a computer and a digital camera. All you have to do is to buy a beginners guide to birding. Be sure to buy one which has photos of the birds & not sketches. You can graduate to the books with sketches  later.

Now find some time for yourself and the birds and go for a walk in the nearest Park or garden. Happy Birding.

I am posting  some photos of the Birds I found.

Brahminy Myna/Starling

Red-vented Bulbul

Black-Rumped Flameback

Black Drongo

Bank Myna

Asian Pied Starling (Pied Myna) - Adult

Green Bee Eater

Asian Koel Male

Rufous Treepie

Partridge

Purple Sun bird female

Eurasian Golden Oriole

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Day Break At The Man sagar

Early Mornings At Man sagar-4

Early Morning At Man sagar

Early Mornings At Man Sagar-1

Early Mornings At Man sagar

Early Mornings At Man Sagar-2

Early Mornings At Man Sagar-3

If you do not live near the Man Sagar why would you want to go there far a walk  at day break? It is a good question. The answer is because  I like to take pretty pictures. And sun rise is the best part of the day if you ask me. It is a different dawn every day. And each is prettier than the last one. There are birds, there are flowers and desert vegetation and paved paal to walk on. There is even a guy selling tea even before dawn. If you ask him he will serve your tea in disposable cups.There is even a Cafe Coffee Day at a petrol pump just opposite the lake which one presume is open during the day.Later in the day you can get Camel and Elephant rides too.You get a good walk, some fresh air and get to capture the changing moods of Jal Mahal Palace and the Man sagar Lake  in your camera.

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13th Birding Fair at Jaipur’s Man Sagar Lake to Promote ‘River Restoration’

That is a great age to start !

A young man in Jaipur welcoming some migratory visitors to Jaipur

In a continuing effort to conserve Jaipur’s Man Sagar lake and try to develop it as a Mini Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, and to offer better and diverse biodiversity for peoples’ welfare, the 13th annual Birding Fair will be held on 2nd and 3rd February 2010. It will be devoted to ‘River Restoration’ to enable decision makers realize how important the role of rivers is.

Two British experts will lead the 13th Birding Fair, Mr. Robert Oates, Director of The Thames River Restoration Trust, and Mr. Jim Lyons, Technical Specialist for Fish Science at UK’s The Environment Agency. Mr. Robert has been at the Man Sagar Lake some years ago and this time would like to observe how far Man Sagar has progressed towards restoration. These two gentlemen had a meeting with Mr. Harsh Vardhan, organizer of the Birding Fair, during August 2009 in Britain to discuss how the Jaipur event could be linked with lake and river conservation initiatives overseas.

Mr. Oates heads the Thames River restoration and would like to share his experiences at a lecture in Jaipur on 2nd February to let decision makers realize the importance of lakes for peoples’ welfare. Mr. Jim would like to check the fish species at this lake and suggest how to manage their population so that they may try and improve water quality and their presence can increase the migratory bird population as well. Two bird watchers from Britain will also join them on this visit to the Fair.

The Birding Fair is a citizen’s initiative. It was started in 1997 through cooperation of the British Bird Watching Fair which is held annually in August at Anglian Water in Rutland (Oakham, Leics), Dr. Tim Appleton and Mr. Martin Davies, the two main organizers of the British Fair, are appreciative of the Jaipur event.

The Fair is organized by Tourism & wildlife Society of India (TWSI), a non government and non profit organization in service of nature conservation since 1979. It receives support from WWF – India, Bombay Natural History Society, INTACH, Schools, Teachers, government departments like Tourism, Forest, Jaipur Development Authority, banks etc.

The Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd (JMRPL) is actively associated with the Fair for past some years as it has major stake at this lake owing to its commitment to develop a tourism related multi-faceted facility over vacant land south of the water body. This company, led by Mr. N.R. Kothari, a renowned jeweler of Jaipur, has initiated series of measures to control flow of sewerage of the city in to this lake to improve water quality. Introduction of aquatic vegetation in the lake, removing plastic waste, bypassing the main drain and treatment of polluted storm water are some of the main initiatives being made by this company. It is refreshing to realize that a jeweler is serious about cleaning up this heritage lake.

Outcome of such measures is loud and clear. Water quality of Man Sagar has improved and foul odor, which would not allow a visitor to stand by the main road until a few years ago, has totally disappeared. More betterment is being attempted by JMRPL which has devised constructed-wetlands to enable sewerage water flow through vegetation to get it treated. It is going to be a two-pronged strategy. Firstly to treat sewerage received from the city, through vegetation and release the treated water in to the lake. Secondly, pump out lake water (from another end) and flow it in the same process, treating it again. The entire process does not look as simple as described here: aquatic eco systems are complex to sustain.

Larger number of birds have started arriving again at Man Sagar. More than 180 species of birds have been registered in and around this lake round the year. The number looks high as the forest habitat near by supports many birds. Happy augury is that the migratory birds have found this water body, again, as their winter home: shovellers, and pintails with good number of common teals outnumber other migratory ducks. Waders are numerous at the water edges. Divers are reporting back: pochards, grebes etc. Flamingos are becoming annual guests. Painted Storks and Spoonbills, rare here earlier, have reappeared.

Three earthen islands are being dressed up with appropriate acaia trees, wild grass and shrubs to assume the shape of ‘mound plantations’ as exist at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur. They are poised to become breeding-centers (heronries) for resident bird species; when it will happen, hopefully soon, the lake will attain its long cherished objective.

The fish management is under way towards appropriate balance to be struck at this lake. Once it is completed, more fish eating birds will make this place as their breeding ground. The number of breeding birds is on rise which is a positive sign.

Despite JMRPL’s major thrust made at this lake (it has so far spent about Rs 15 crores which is about Great Britain Pounds 2 million), lot more needs to be attended to at this scenic water body by the Government of Rajasthan, which has its headquarters located a few kilometers away from the lake. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (RTDC) is the nodal agency to monitor certain aspects of this lake while Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) is in charge of the land development, which includes areas around the lake. The Department of Forest has charge of the well wooded hills which constitute water shed of the lake. Department of Irrigation appears having minor say in water management in face of JDA’s over all control. Department of Fisheries is yet to step in to remove and reintroduce fish as per a definite plan. The sewerage treatment plant is with another agency. The Department of Tourism (DoT) takes care of promotional aspects of tourism here. The Ministry of Environment & Forest, based in New Delhi, has its indirect say at this water body, having disbursed huge amount to JDA for restoring this water body.

Man Sagar Lake is going to add a new feather in city’s cap through the various initiatives taken by the many organizations involved in its development as a world class site.

The writer of this guestpost, Mr.Harshvardhan, is a famous bird enthusiast based in Jaipur and organizer of the 13th edition of the birding Fair to be held in February in 2010.He may be contacted at birdfair@birdfair.org .

A Birding Fair in Jaipur

Ramana Athreya (center) ,discoverer of Bugun Liocichla,a new species of bird, and friends.

From the left Mr.Ashok Singhvi,Ramana Athreya,discoverer of a new species of bird called Bugun Liocichla at the Eaglenest Sanctury and Mr Subhash Uppal at the 12th Birding Fair.

On 6th & 7th February 2009, The Tourism and wildlife Society of India(TWSI) organized the 12th annual birding fair at the Man Sagar Lake,Jaipur.The theme is “Communities in Conservation”.

Ramana Athreya,from Pune,Tom Jones and Rajkumari Jones from UK,and about a dozen representatives from Keoladeo National Park,all avid bird watchers were present.

Mr.Athreya discovered a new species of bird in 2006 and named it Bugun Liocichla.Mr.Tom Jones takes care of the shore birds at Anglesey Island in North Wales.Ms.Rajkumari Jones chairs the squirrel protection group in UK.

The event was  sponsored by WWF, SBBJ, Bombay Natural History Society and Jal Mahal Resorts (P) Ltd. among others.

This was  one more of the Society’s and the authorities ongoing efforts to develop the Man sagar Lake area into a haven for the migratory birds visiting Jaipur.Recently the Forest Department has  proposed to declare  the area as the first protected area of Jaipur  instead of  a reserve and to develop the area as a tourist spot with horse safari,nature trail,dear park etc.

Extensive renovation has been going on at the Jal mahal itself for some time now.

This 250 year old lake is a natural habitat for about 150 local and migratory birds.

Peacock-The National Bird Of India

Indian Peafowl

‘The gorgeous peacock is the glory of God’.A sanskrit verse says.It seems the poachers  are only interested in its white meat and eggs and  tail feathers and not in its glorifying God.Due to poaching and use of pesticides their numbers are decreasing alarmingly.So much so that the 11th bird fair in Jaipur was dedicated to the peacock to bring awareness to its plight. A census was also organised to count the actual birds.

There was a time when these birds were everywhere in the north,west and central India.It had been proclaimed the national bird so it was protected by law and according to the scriptures it was thought to be a vehicle of Goddess Saraswati( learning),Kartikeya(god of war) and Subrahmanya (god of yogic powers).

Alexander the great took back with him to Greece 200 birds and they spread to western Asia,north Africa,Europe and America.

It is said that on the peacock throne of Emperor Shah Jahan there were two figures of bejeweled peacocks.

Indian Peacock has fan shaped tips to their tail feathers and the Burmese sub species has pointed tips.The peacock unfurls these feathers to attract the pea hen.They shed all their tail feathers every year and grow new ones.

The Peacock is  the first bird to sound the alarm of the approach of a tiger or a leopard in the jungle.

Gardens Around Jaipur

Jaipur is not all tall buildings and monuments.You will be surprised to know that there are more than a dozen gardens in jaipur.Not all of them are on the tourist trail.Let us talk a little bit about them.

Ram Niwas Garden

Built during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh II in 1868 as a famine relief project,on 36 acres of land  it is home to a zoo(0141-2617319),an aviary,a green house,a herbarium, The Albert Hall Museum(designed by Sir Samuel Jacobs), several Sports grounds ,The Ravindra Manch Theatre and a Parking Lot.

The Sclpture In The Central Park Jaipur,Rajasthan

The Sclpture In The Central Park Jaipur,Rajasthan

Statue Circle & The Central Park

You will find statues on most Jaipur circles but only one Circle is known as the Statue Circle and A full length white marble statue of Sawai Jai Singh stands tall in the center.And nearby Behind Birla Planetarium is the Central Park Developed by the J.D.A. It has a walk way around the golf greens of The RamBagh Golf Club and a Sculpture and grassy knolls.It is also a venue for the monthly fixture of The Music In The Park organized by Spic Mac,JDA and RTDC.

Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh (0141-2680494)

About 6km from the city center on the way to galta ji off Jaipur Agra Highway is a garden built by Sawai Jai Singh for his second wife, a Sisodia princess from Udaipur.It is a terraced garden with a palace on the top terrace.  This garden is a popular venue for weddings and parties.

Vidhyadhar ji ka Bagh(0141-2680494)

Named after the genius who planned the Pink City for Sawai Jai Singh II this garden is under renovation right now( Budget 5 Crores).They have discovered a 250 years old bawadi which was used to harvest water. This water was used for Vidhyadhar Garden and The Roop Niwas Garden.It was also used as  a vineyard for the jaipur royal family in the times gone by.

Kanak Vrindawan (0141-2634596) On the way to Amber,near Jal Mahal,newly restored temple and garden,is a popular picnic spot.

Peacock Garden & Rose Garden in Mansarovar

These two garden have had the rare distinction of having commemorative covers issued  in 2007.

Karpoor Chandra Kulish Simriti Ban

Area- 108 Acres.Cost-7.68 Crore rupees.Main entrance opposite Shiksa Sankul (Museum Gate) 2nd gate near MNIT(Aravali Gate).Eco Environmental  Museum with 500 books.Centuries old rocks.About 90 species of birds.A seasonal waterfall.3 Hills. 8 Ponds  with lotus and fish. A walk way.2 Foot Bridges.9 Sections(Vasundhra,Champa,Dhanvantari,National,Nakshatra,Arid,Brindavan & Holistic Wellness Farm).Ample parking Space.No entry for vehicles( a big parking lot in house). Horse Trail Proposed.

Jhalana Eco Tourism Park

The park is situated  in the Kho-Nagoria region on a 470 hectare parcel of land in Jhalana.It has a budget of 25 lac rupees.

About 85 species of birds are found in this park.The park has 30 rare species of  plants with medicinal value.

Shastri Nagar Science Park

It is proposed to build a planetarium and I T Gallery in this park (Budget 20Lac).15 new models have been installed.3 guides are also being employed to impart information to the visitors.

Jai Niwas garden

The Spireless  Govind Dev ji Temple is  dedicated to Lord Krishna and is  located in the central pavilion of the Jai Niwas Garden in near the city palace complex.

Kesar Kyari & Dilaram Bagh,Amer

Kesar Kyari  the Dilaram Bagh on the Mawatha provide a spectacular view of the Amer palaces.

Kesar Kyari Garden  is the venue for the light and sound show by the RTDC costing 5.25 crores.The 45 min. script has been written by Gulzar and will be narrated by Amitabh Bachan.

Rajasthan University Campus

Spread over 285.5 acres Rajasthan University Central  Campus has emerged as  the only place in jaipur where  Ecology students can research various flora and fauna-plants and trees which are a representation of vegetation found in rajasthan on a level ground.Besides  students from various colleges of jaipur  out station college students also come here to do research. One other rich source of plant specimens is the Campus nursery.

Proposed

Chameli Bagh at Jal Mahal

It is proposed to recreate the vanished garden in the Jal Mahal terrace according to an 18 th century map found in the City Palace.Lime and mortar-age old building materials will be used.It will have a lift and lighting will be done by Australia based D.J.Ghosh.If all things go as planed it will be one of the 80 most exotic garden locations of the world.

Collectorate Circle A Theme based Garden .

In a novel marketing step Forest Department  nurseries even develop plants according to the recommendations of the  12  zodiac signs and make them available for sale to the common man during the monsoon season.

Bird Watching In Jaipur

A Bird Fair in Jaipur you say. Read this.On  8 th & 9  th February 2008 the 11th annual   bird fair was  organised by the Tourism Wildlife Society of India at Mansagar Lake,Jaipur.This lake has been developed by the Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt.Ltd. after an expenditure of 17 crore rupees.The basin has been cleaned and three types of grass,two varieties of lotus and fish preferred by the migratory birds have been sown. Consequently about  100 types of migratory birds  were seen here by the help of binoculars by school children bird enthusiasts from jaipur and foreign tourists .The fair was inaugurated by American ornithologist Peter G Caisner.He has seen 8144 types of approximately 10,000 species of birds found on earth.In India we can find only about 1200 types of birds. The event was dedicated to the national bird peacock,as their numbers are decreasing day by day due to poaching and use of pesticides.About  a dozen  experts from Bharatpur also  attended the fair and imparted information about how to protect our feathered friends.  Common Teal, spoonbill duck, grey heron, red crested pochard , sand piper and flamingos were some of the birds seen here.