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Home >> Hotspots >> Dehradun

Dehradun (Uttaranchal)

Jul 23, 2005 at 05:04 AM
Exploring bird watching areas in Dehra Dun valley, the lower Garhwal Himalayas - Arun P. Singh
The Dehra Dun valley (77o40’ to 78o15’E and 30o00’ to 30o35’N) lies between the west Himalayan mountain ranges in the north and the Shiwalik range running parallel to it in the south at a mean altitude of 485 m. and covers an area of ca. 1920 km2. In the west it is bordered by the river Yamuna and in the east by the river Ganga. The valley is also well watered by perennial streams ( Asan, Tons, Song, Suswa and Jakhan) which are ideal haunts for birdwatchers during winter.
The mountain slopes (north and south) of the valley are covered with pure and mixed forests dominated by sal, Shorea robusta which cover 51-58% of the valley and rise up to 1000 m altitude. However, the flat areas in the central part of the valley are under different land use practices: irrigated & cultivated agricultural land; agroforestry plantations; old tea gardens; orchards; urbanized areas; cantonments and riverine scrubland.
The valley receives ca.200cm rainfall annually, mostly during the monsoons (June–September). The temperature fluctuates between –1oc to 44oc 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. A total of 23 ‘globally threatened’ avian species listed in IUCN Red list have been recorded in the valley which is habitat for more than 400 species of birds. If we include the surrounding hills then this combined checklist touches 600.
Although, the entire valley is covered with vegetation and water sources are scattered plenty all over the mountain slopes, however the following 11 treks are worthwhile especially for those birders who are not familiar with the area.
Karvapani (KP)
A magnificent stretch of dense and high sal forest that has perennial sources of fresh water with swamps and covers the entire northern aspect of Shiwalik hills. In the west it adjoins the Rajaji National Park while, eastwards it transgresses through a 35 km stretch of Asarori-Karvapani-Malhan-Timli forest ranges. KP lies 20 km south-west of DD. To approach KP take Saharanpur (SH) road from DD and 2 km after you have entered the sal forests on Shiwaliks you reach Asarori forest check post. From here take the right gate turn that goes straight to KP, which is about 10 km, while this road goes further to Timli and is not motor able during the monsoons (July-October). Otherwise, on SH road take the right diversion for Shimla road at Majra ( 5 kms from DD). This road goes to Paonta Sahib and enroute (after 10 km) is Buddi village. From Buddi market crossing take a left turn towards the Shiwaliks and this narrow road goes to KP Forest Rest House (FRH) (2 km) via Manak Sidh temple through agriculture fields and forest.
Rajaji National Park (RNP - Phanduwala -Kansrao-Motichur)
A lush green, undisturbed 40 km stretch of dense sal forest that covers a one-third the area of the RNP, lies south-east of DD on the northern aspect of Shiwalik hills, east of Asarori forest. Suswa river runs parallel to these three connecting ranges (Phanduwala-Kansrao-Motichur) and marks the northern boundary of the park. A jungle road goes connects these forest ranges from Asarori to Motichur via Phanduwala and Kansrao and is the only motorable road ( open from 15 November to 14 June). There are 6 approaches to this road in its entire route. First road is from Asarori gate opposite to Karvapani gate on SH-DD highway. From here Phanduwala is ca. 10 km. An alternative route is from Ramgarh gate near Clemet Town (7 km south of DD located on the left side of SH road after (I km) Majra. This road goes through ‘Mathurawala swamps’ along Suswa river to reach Phanduwala (PH) after 6 kms. Besides, another all weather road to reach PH is through Lachhiwala (LH) range. From DD as you reach LH overhead railway bridge [17 km east of DD on way to Haridwar (HR)] take the right jungle road that goes to Ahmed Satellite Earth Station, on this forest road continue until you hit Dodiwala -Doodhli road at the jungle edge. Then continue straight again on this track, cross over Suswa river until you reach ‘Cheering Crossing Barrier’ (Bullawala) located on the northern boundary of RNP after another 2.5 kms. From this dead end, the right road goes into RNP to PH FRH(4 kms) while the left to Kansrao (15 kms). Birding at PH can be done along this road and river Suswa that flows 500m north of the FRH. Kansrao (KS) can be reached from Cheering Crossing via Jabbarwala check post that lies 7 kms further ahead. If this road is not motorable then Jabbarwala check post (JB) can be reached alternatively from Doiwala (3 kms from LH railway bridge crossing on the highway).From Doiwala proceed towards Kurkawala village(2 km) – Suswa river (1.5km)– Gullawala (1km) to reach JB another 2km by road. From JB, KS is another 8 kms but this Jungle road goes through many river beds and swamps motorable only during dry season. KS has the best maintained old FRH ( without electricity) in the valley and here bird watching can be done along the Suswa-Jkahan river confluence near the FRH and surrounding sal forest. Motichur (MT)is another 15 kms east by jungle road from KS. MT FRH lies very near to DD-HR Highway and KS can be reached alternatively from here also. However, the best option during monsoon to reach KS and return back the same day is by taking an early morning train from DD [DehraDun -Laksar- Saharanpur (DLS) local train departs from DD at 8.05 a.m. and at 6:30pm this train can be taken on the way back to DD from KS railway station)
Thano (TH)
Thano forest lies 18 kms north-east of DD. The forest here is open as well as dense- mixed sal which is continuous with the mountain slopes of Garhwal in the north. While it is connected to Lachhiwala -Phanduwala ranges in the south, the only forest link between Shiwaliks and Himalayan ranges in the valley. This makes it a peculiar place for observing local altitudinal migrants descending /climbing down the mountain slopes enroute during passage and even a few mountain residents during extreme winter. To reach TH village take the road to Raipur township (6 km east) from DD. From Raipur, TH is about 12 kms straight from the right diversion on Raipur-Maldeota road. You enter sal forests 4 kms before TH and birdwatching can be done here. FRH at TH lies after 3 kms from here on the way (left). A bush covered nullah with a perennial water source leads to the mountains (north), adjacent to the temple behind (50m) the FRH, is a good trek to observe birds. A jungle road also goes south from the FRH to join at Kalu Sidth Temple (4 km) near the Song river (motorable from November to June). Or else take a parallel road which goes south from TH village to Jollygrant village(6 km) (located on DD- Rishikesh highway). Enroute you will find open and mixed patches with dead sal trees due to borer beetle infestation and good forest is in the right (after 3 km) that can be trekked by foot trails. On reaching Kaluwala check post located at the jungle edge on tthis road (5 kms from TH village ), turn right on a jungle road to reach Kalu Sidh temple (2 km). Scan Song river marshes and swamps and forest for birds.
Lachhiwala (LH)
Lachhiwala forest lies 10-17 kms east of DD on Haridwar (HR) /Rishikesh Highway. Forest around Laxman Sidh Temple and Lachhiwala Picnic Spot are places of interest. Laxman Sidh Temple lies 10 km from DD very close (1.5km) to the highway, on the right turn as soon as you enter the sal forest after a small bridge after Harawala. A jungle road (not motorable) from the temple climbs uphill west and then descends down to reach Suswa River near Mathurwala swamp after 4kms passing through one of the best patches of sal in the valley. From here one can reach back to DD via Clement Town ( Turner road which joins SH road near Majra). To reach LH picnic spot from Laxman Sidh, continue on HR highway till you cross the over head railway crossing. Turn left towards where LH FRH is located and this jungle road reaches picnic spot (river Song) after 3 kms. The jungle here is mixed moist deciduous with and with out sal and birding here can be done along the marshes and grasses besides the song river.
Barkot (BK)
Barkot lies 40 km east of DD on the highway to Rishikesh which is 10 kms further. The FRH here, located inside the forest, can be reached by taking the right uphill road as soon as the sal forest begins after (1 km) crossing Ranipokhri village while coming from DD. A jungle road from the FRH goes through BK range and reaches Gola tappar area (dilapidated FRH ) after 7km and then turns left to join the DD -HR highway ( 3km) before Nepali farm at Teenpani but is not also motor able during the monsoons. The vegetation along the route is dense undisturbed sal and at Gola tappar -Teenpani is wet,different from other places in the valley. Forest stretch enroute the DD-Rishikesh highway from BK FRH also offers the best habitat for birding.
New Forest (NF) and adjoining Tons valley forests
The campus of the Forest Research Institute created in 1927 also known as the ‘New Forest’ covers an area of 4.45 km2 and lies 5 km west of DD Clock tower on Chakarata road. Entry through Trevor Gate or Kaulagarh Gate should be done. NF has a variety if habitats with diverse vegetation (972 species of trees, bamboos, shrubs and climbers) that attract more than 250 species of birds in a year, which depict the point diversity of DD valley. Ideal bird watching places here are: A big botanical garden with a canal and adjoining pine forest with old bamboo, cane, teak plantations (south-east), big lawns, nurseries and the main building (central to south) and an arboretum behind it (north), a golf course with another adjoining pine and mixed forest (west), tree road avenues, orchards, and north-west facing slopes Tons river valleys forests lying behind bunglows (no 8 –16) and Officers rest house (ORH), that form the north-western boundary of NF. Approach to Tons and Nun rivers is through a small gate near House no.9 close to ORH and this jungle road reaches the Tons and Nun rivers further west via Bajawala and Masindawala villages (1 km ) where birdwatching can be done. Other approach is a foot trail from the backyard of ORH into a lush dense- undisturbed nullah which also descends into to Tons river valley and slopes after 500 m. Climbing up stream river Nun or Tons are also other places of interest during winter.
Jhajra (JH) -Majaun
Jhajra forest lies 14 kms west of DD on Chakarata road. On reaching JH here turn right near a small temple to enter the jungle road. The FRH is located 500 m on the hillock inside the forest by turning left after 200 m as you enter or else go straight in the jungle which is continuous for another 4 km. Bird watching can be done all along the route by entering into the jungle foot trails. A large opening with a water pool/swamp lies on the right side 1 km from Jhajra on this road . After this jungle ends this road meets a dead end. From here turn left to reach Bhauwala Chawk after another 1.5 km. From here turn right (north) towards Donga village (3 kms). Mountain slopes north of Donga village have sal forests merging with chirpine where bird watching can be done. From Donga take the right turn through the forest to reach Bidholi 2kms ahead. In way after you cross over the sal forests and then enter into meadows and get the most spectacular view of landscapes in the valley. From Bidholi you reach Paonda after 3 kms via Kandholi. From Paonda you turn left to reach Majaun (2 km). Here, the perennial stream below and sal forests rising into the Himalayas further north, that are to be approached by foot, also offer majestic views. Then return back to Paonda and now turn left to reach Nanda- ki -Chawki (5 km) located near the Tons river bridge on Chakarata road. From here return back to DD which is 10 km.
Langha (LG) -Bhadraj
Langha lies about 40 kms north-west of DD at the base of the Bhadraj mountain. From DD drive west on Chakarata road and after 2 km when you have crossed Sahaspur township (23 km) you reach ‘Langha turn’ on the right. From here LG FRH is about 17 km straight north. From LG crossing, FRH ( ca 1000 m) is located 400m on the left up hill inside sal forest where one can halt. From LG crossing take the road which climbs to reach Pastai village 4 kms ahead via Pipalsar village (1.5km). From Pastai, Bhadraj peak/temple (peak 2400 m)lies overhead at a distance of 6-7 kms up hill that has to be trekked on foot and it takes up to 3.5-4 hrs to reach there. On way you will find rocky slopes with planted chir pine trees and grass and later a dense patch of ban oak forest at the top. However, enroute their are no villages or water sources. Best time to climb Bhadraj is in early winter or early spring . Near LG, climbing along the jungle streams eastwards in sal forests or going down west to reach the Yamuna bridge (10-12 km) are good jaunts for birding. [Alternatively, Bhadraj can be approached from Mussoorrie by driving west to George Everest house which is 8 kms. From here trek to Bhadraj temple is 12 kms further up south –west].
Asan Barrage (AB)

The reservoir at AB, is the largest wet land (ca 3.5 km2) in the valley and refuge for winter migratory water birds, lies 38 km west of DD enroute to Poanta Sahib. To reach AB take Chakarata road from DD and from Herbertpur crossing (32 km) continue west to reach Rampur Mandi 6 km ahead where AB is situated on the left at the confluence of Yamuna canal and Asan river, while river Yamuna flows besides it in the right. One can trek all around the reservoir, in the island marshes by a road from the in its eastern side, adjoining swamps and woodland ( north-west) , Yamuna river bed (north) and fields along the river Asan (south- east)].

Santaladevi (SD)–Nun river

Santaladevi lies 12 kms mid-north of DD at the base of Mussoorrie (MS) mountains. From DD take the road going to Garhi Cantonment. From Garhi Market area (Birpur Road) take Ghangora Road just after you cross the bridge over Tons river and near the gate. Continue for 2.5 km on this road to reach Jaintanwala village lying besides the river Nun on its left and at the base of Galjwari reserved sal forest on right. This roads descends on river Nun after about 1 km and then climbs to SD Temple by foot another 2 kms. Park your vehicles besides the tea stalls along Nun river. Bird watching can be done here all along the Nun river by following its origin for another 1 km north-west until you reach the base of MS mountains and also in sal forest present on both sides Nun river. Return is by the same route.

Rajpur Forest and Robber’s Cave (RC)

‘Malsi deer park’ (MDP) lies 8 km north of DD on the MS by pass road on the western slopes of Rajpur Reserved Forest. The gate to MDP is on the right side of this road just before the bridge on rivulet (a tributary of Tons). Climb over to the deer park and park the vehicle there. Bird watching can be done by taking a foot trail that goes from its left (north) end of the park towards the ridge which is about 1.5 km until you reach cremation ground. From here you can come back or else move down further north to reach Rajpur road near Sahanshai Ashram/Tandoori Night’s restaurant which lies 1 km ahead of Rajpur town.
For going to the Robber’s Cave also called ‘Guchhupani’, from MDP come back on the MS bypass road towards DD for about 1 km and then turn right on a road (near shops/lime stone kiln)) that goes to Sinola village. After 1 km you meet a dead end , turn left towards Anarwala until you reach a small bridge over Tons. Descend down on the river and follow the river for half a kilometer until you reach the north side of RC. Otherwise, from Sinola go towards Anarwala straight for about 1 km until you reach Johri village. From here take a foot trail downwards south to the Tons river until you reach the mouth (south) of RC after 500m. Here, water flows between deep narrow gorges of high rocks for a long stretch (100m) to give it a cave like appearance. This can also be trekked along with the adjoining vegetation for birds.

Further Tips

To observe this magnificent bird life, permission for entering and staying in Rajaji National Park ( FRH’s at Phanduwala, Kansrao, Moitchur ) has to be obtained from Director, Rajaji National Park ,5/1 ,Ansari Road ( Near Bindal Bridge), Dehra Dun city –248001;Tel-: 0135-621669(O), 744225(R);( see website: ). For Staying in forest rest houses in DehraDun Forest Division [ i.e Asasrori, Karvapani, Sabbawala (Malhan), Jhajra, Thano, Lachhiwala, Barkot ] permission has to be obtained from DFO, Dehra Dun, 5-Tilak Road (adjoining Director, RNP) , Dehra Dun –248 001; Tel-0135-627612 (Fax) . While for staying at FRH’s in Yamuna Circle [ Timli, Langha, Kalsi and Van Chetna Kendra at Rampur Mandi (Asan Barrage)] , permission has to be obtained from DFO Kalsi , Soil Conservation Division, Kalsi , Dehra Dun. Stay at Asan Barrage can also be done in independent log huts , situated at the AB it self (Tel :01360-24098,22133) owned by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam ( a state government enterprise -General Manager, GMVN, 74/1 Rajpur Road, Dehra Dun; Tel-0135-746817,749308; This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it ). Permission for staying in New Forest campus at ORH can be done by through Publicity Liaison Officer, FRI , DehraDun, 248 006; Tel : 0135-752925(Fax) ;757021*4315 . However, one can always halt in DD city where a good number of hotels are available on Rajpur road.

Arun P.Singh , Entomology Division, Forest Research Institute, P.O. New Forest, Dehra Dun, Uttranchal State, India –248006.
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