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.
You can stay at the Forest Department Rest House at Nalsarovar. For details, contact: Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, Nigam Bhavan, Sector 16, Gandhinagar – 382016. Tel.: 02712-21951/ 22525/ 22645; Fax: 02712-22189. Or Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, H. K. House, Opp. Bata Showroom, Ahram Road, Ahmedabad – 380009. Tel.: 079-6589172/ 6587217/ 6589683; Fax: 079-6582183.
Another option is to stay at Palace Utelia, 10 km. away from the lake at Utelia. Tel.: 079-6445770.
You may stop for food at K.P. Farm (Sanand) en route which has a swimming pool, children's amusement park and a water park.
Day trips from Ahmedabad are another viable option, since the accommodation at Ahmedabad is likely to be more comfortable and more easily available, suiting all budgets and tastes.
By Air: Ahmedabad (60 km.) is the nearest airport, well-connected to major cities all over India.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is at Ahmedabad (60 km.)
By Road: The Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is about 60 km. from Ahmedabad and State Transport buses ply to and fro between Ahmedabad and Nalsarovar, a journey of about an hour.
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 shallow lake that occurs over a flat, extensive low-lying stretch of land in Gujarat, 80 km. from Ahmedabad. The lake covers an area of about 115 sq. km. on land, which is mainly marshy. The lake is situated at the junction of the Saurashtra plateau with the Gujarat mainland. It is rain-fed and serves as a water-catchment area in the monsoons. The lake dries up almost completely in the summer.
The marshes do not support much vegetation although the lake is surrounded by grasslands and open fields. Reeds and aquatic plants may be found around the lake whereas trees are practically absent. About 48 species of algae, 72 species of flowering plants, and 76 species of zooplankton and zoo benthos have been recorded from the lake. The surrounding Gir forests are rich in teak, jamun, acacia and banyan trees.
The Padhars ferry visitors around the lake where one can see a variety of birds either wading in the water, or taking flight. In the reeds around the lake, birds find safe nesting grounds. Some seek food in the mud or eat the plants growing at the fringes of the lake. The ride around the lake is extremely rewarding, filled with promise of hearing the most delightful sounds and glimpsing unique bird flights! Pelicans, geese, cranes, storks, ibises, spoonbill, wading birds, swallows, fishing eagles, osprey, harriers are only some of the species seen around the lake.
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.
Assistant Conservator of Forests, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, P.O. Vekaria, District Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Tel./Fax: 079-2122430.
The Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary was established on April 8, 1969. Bharwad shepherds live on the islands of the lake while Padhars populate the banks. The Padhars are very talented artisans and you must view their folk dances. They also double as boatmen who will take you around the lake. The economy of nearby villages is almost entirely dependent on Nalsarovar for its fish, fodder, grazing and employment opportunities.