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Home >> Hotspots >> Chambal


Nov 03, 2005 at 10:19 PM
Originating in the Vindhayan ranges of Central India, the river Chambal passes through the Kota, Sawaimadhopur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan, Morena and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh, and Agra and Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh, before merging with the river Yamuna.
In 1979 a 400 km stretch of the river Chambal and an approximately 2 km wide swathe of the river ravines on either side was designated the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS). The National Chambal Sanctuary (76o40’ to 78o10’E and 15o15’ to 26o30’N), an IUCN Category IV Protected area (Managed Nature Reserve), lies in the Indus-Ganges Monsoon Forest belt and covers an area of ca. 1270 km2. The Sanctuary begins downstream of the Kota barrage in Rajasthan and the lower limit is after Pachnanda near Bhareh in Uttar Pradesh where the Chambal flows into the Yamuna.

The Chambal is a perennial river bordered by steep ravines with an altitude range of 200-500 m, is known for its pristine unpolluted waters and is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Tropical dry scrub forest. The dominant tree species are Cordia myxa, Gardenia turgida, Azadurachta indica, Streblus asper, Dalbergia sissoo, Acacia arabica and Prosopis juliflora.
The Chambal valley receives ca.210cm rainfall annually, mostly during the monsoons (June–September). The temperature fluctuates between 2oc to 47oc from winter to summer. The distribution of the seasons is, spring (March-April); pre-monsoon (May-June); summer/ monsoon (July- August); post-monsoon (September-October); autumn (November- December) and winter (January- February).
Bird watching in the valley
The best season to explore the valley for birds is undoubtedly autumn and winter when both altitudinal migrants from the higher Himalayas and palaearctic region assemble here. However, spring and post -monsoon are best for observing the passage migrants, while pre- monsoon and monsoon seasons are perfect to observe breeding of summer visitors and residents. The current NCS bird checklist stands at close to 250 species of resident and migratory birds and is increasing with each bird-watching season. The Sanctuary is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most reliable places to see the Indian Skimmer. In addition the NCS is also home to threatened species such as Ghavials, Marsh Crocodiles, Gangetic Dolphins, Striped Hyenas and Wolves.
Most birders access the sanctuary near Agra in Uttar Pradesh, where the Chambal Safari operates boat cruises and walks along the river and ravines. The NCS is 86 km southeast of Agra and 125 from Bharatpur and the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, on the Agra – Fatehabad road. Despite its proximity to these places, the Chambal Valley remains largely unexplored. Listed below are a few birding sites that have been ‘explored’.
Nandgaon Ghat, Nandgaon, District Agra
The Nandgaon Ghat is an access point into the National Chambal Sanctuary. The ghat lies 2 km from the village of Nandgaon, (in Agra District). The terrain is flat farmland followed by rough ravines covered with indigenous wild trees such as Shisham, Ber, and Acacia.
Nandgaon Ghat is 86 km from Agra, a comfortable one and a half hours drive on good country roads. Follow the Fatehabad road from Agra to Bah (70 km) and then further to Jaitpur (10 km). At Jaitpur’s main market crossing take a right turn and then follow this road through the ravines to Nandgaon (4 km). Beyond Nandgaon the road becomes a dirt track about 500m before the river. The Chambal Safari boats are stationed at the Ghat for birdwatching cruises on the river.

The key bird species include: Grey Francolin, Greylag Goose, Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Comb Duck, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Lesser Whistling Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Pied Kingfisher, Greater Coucal, Lesser Coucal, Sarus Crane, Demoiselle Crane, Brown Crake, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Painted Sandgrouse, Common Snipe, Eastern Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Greater Painted-snipe, Eurasian Thick-knee, Great Thick-knee, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Pacific Golden Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Long-billed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Northern Lapwing, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, River Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Small Pratincole, Indian Skimmer, Pallas’s Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender billed gull, River Tern, Little Tern, Black-bellied Tern, Osprey, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Red-headed Vulture, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Crested serpent Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant , Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Great Egret , Intermediate Egret, Black Ibis, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Blue Rock Thrush, Common Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Desert Wheatear, Brown Rock-chat, Sand Lark, Crested Lark, White-browed Wagtail.
The Chambal Safari Lodge, Jarar
The Chambal Safari Lodge is situated 16 km short of the National Chambal Sanctuary, in order to disperse the impacts of eco-tourism in the area. Follow the Fatehabad from Agra to just before Bah. The lies 500m off the road, 3km short of Bah, and is well signposted.
The Chambal Safari lodge is located in a 35 acre plantation of large trees, some of which are over a century old. Several indigenous varieties of trees and shrubs have been planted to supplement the existing plantation, creating a veritable ‘jungle’. The trees and a series of large water bodies around them are home to numerous birds and small mammals, several of which are not seen in the sanctuary.
Accommodation at the Chambal Safari Lodge consists of eight independent cottages scattered around the woodland area. The cottages, built using locally available materials and craftsmen, have a rustic charm and are simple, spacious and airy. The ensuite bathrooms have running hot and cold water. The Lodge however has limited electrical connections and does not keep generators. Hot water is supplied on demand from the kitchens, in the absence of electricity to run the geysers. Candles and lanterns are kept in the rooms, and the possibility of solar lights backup is currently being explored.
The old stables have been converted into dining and seating areas for guests, and the lodge kitchens use locally grown organic produce.
Birders usually spend about 2 days at the camp, but additional time will pay benefits in terms of the birds seen. There is plenty of good birding in and around the lodge area, as well as the lodge being ideally located for day excursions to numerous other smaller birding sites.
For further information/bookings contact Ram Pratap Singh at +919412651921 or +919837415512.

The key bird species found at the lodge include: Black-rumped Flameback, Brown-headed Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Indian Grey Hornbill, Common Hoopoe, Indian Roller, Black Redstart, Chestnut shouldered Petronia, Common Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Plum-headed Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Brown Hawk Owl , Collared Scops owl, Red Collared Dove , Eurasian Collared Dove ,Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Brahminy Starling, Sarus Crane, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Coot, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Osprey,  Oriental Honey-buzzard, Egyptian Vulture, Crested serpent Eagle, Shikra, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Bonelli’s Eagle, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Rufous Treepie, Small Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Black Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Red-throated Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Indian Robin, Common Myna , Jungle Myna, Oriental White-eye, Common Tailorbird, Hume’s Warbler, Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Large Grey Babbler, Jungle Babbler, Black Drongo, Purple Sunbird, Paddyfield Pipit.
Bateshwar, District Agra
The ancient temple complex at Bateshwar on the river Yamuna, 8 km from the Chambal Safari Lodge, consists of more than a hundred temples dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. Said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna’s mother, Bateshwar is associated with numerous myths and legends. High rising ravines surround the temples and river, and are home to a number of Naga sadhus (holy men) who have carved out little caves and temples within the mud walls.
The river Yamuna and its ravines are also home to a number of resident and migratory birds such as Terns, Cormorants, Kingfishers and Pelicans amongst others.
In early November, the open areas around the temple complex play host to an annual animal fair, the origins of which are believed to stretch into antiquity. The fair coincides with the most auspicious period for praying at Bateshwar and is an important fixture for saints, sadhus, tradesmen and villagers.

Key species include: Grey Francolin, Ruddy Shelduck , Lesser Whistling Teal, Common Hoopoe,  Indian Roller, Common Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Rose-ringed Parakeet,    Plum-headed Parakeet, House Swift, Laughing Dove, Spotted Dove, Red Collared Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Coot, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank , Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank,  Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Black- winged Stilt, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, River Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Pallas’s Gull, Brown-headed Gull, River Tern, Black-bellied Tern, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Western Reef Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret , Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Little Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great White Pelican, Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Black Stork, Woolly-necked Stork,
Black-necked Stork, Black Drongo, Blue Rock Thrush, Brown Rock-chat, Common Myna, Bank Myna, Wire-tailed Swallow, House Sparrow, White-browed Wagtail.
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