Where to travel
Ramsar Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary (Mahrana Pratap Sanctuary) received whooper swan, a rare migratory bird, in 2013 after a wait of more than eleven decades. The image of whooper swan, the national bird of Finland, is engraved on the one Euro coin. The heavy swan remains in water most of the time because the legs cannot bear the body weight.
During 2012-2013 bird count survey, several species of waterfowls were spotted. The survey team also spotted northern pintail, common coot, common pochard, tuft pochard, little cormorant, common teal, common shelduck, ruddy breasted crake, bar headed goose and other migratory birds. The inland wetland with an average altitude of 450 meters is a rich source of fish, such as catla, catfish, singhara, mirror carp and mahseer.
The Ramsar Site No: 1211, a man-made wet land, is located on the Beas River in Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh. Every year the site hosts several migratory birds coming from Siberia, Russia, Central Asia and Tibet.
Pong Sanctuary, located on the migratory birds’ trans-Himalayan fly path, shares southern boundary with the Indo-Gangetic plain and faces the Dhauladhar Range in north. The wetland is the meeting point of two major faunal regions: Oriental (South) and Palaearctic (North). The sanctuary in the Shiwalik Range experiences hot and humid summer and dry and cold winter.
Who will enjoy this short adventure trip idea?
Water sports lovers
People looking for soft adventure trips close to cities
What to do & see: physical, cultural
Walk through the sanctuary
You may have to pay INR 40 per day to get a license for fishing. Contact Himachal Pradesh Fisheries Department for angling at Pong. http://hpfisheries.nic.in/license.htm
Boating and sailing
You can contact Regional Water Sports Center at Sansarpur Terrace, Pong Dam (Near Talwara), Kangra District for the training. The center is managed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS). http://www.adventurehimalaya.org/watersports.asp
When to go
October-February for migratory bird watching
How to reach
Delhi-Mahrana Pratap Sagar: about 450 kilometers
Kangra-Mahrana Pratap Sagar: about 62 kilometers
Delhi-Kangra: about 500 kilometers
Pathankot-Ramsar Pong: about 50 kilometer
Chandigarh-Ramsar Pong: about 170 kilometers
Chandigarh-Kangra: about 250 kilometers
Kangra –Nagrota Surien: about 50 kilometers
Jwala Mukhi-Mahrana Pratap Sagar: about 36 kilometers
Nearest airport: Gaggal Airport, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh. The flights from New Delhi to Gaggal may resume from March 31, 2013.
Several private buses ply on Delhi to Kangra route. The bus fare for about 11 hours ride starts from INR 600 per passenger.
Himachal Road Transport Corporation (H.R.T.C.) runs buses between Delhi ISBT Kashmiri Gate and Nagrota Surien in the evening. The bus fare starts from INR 440 per passenger. http://www.hrtc.gov.in/hrtctickets/
Car & Taxi
Drive your own car. Alternatively, you can hire a taxi.
The sanctuary covers a large area. Select a hotel location depending on the adventure activity you would like to enjoy. If you want to do water sports, stay in Talwara and / or Sansarpur Terrace. For bird watching, stay at Nagorta Surien and / or Ransar Island. Here is the list of government and private hotels and rest houses:
Forest Rest Houses (F.R.H.)
The Forest Department, Himachal Pradesh manages F.R.Hs at Dehra, Nagorta Surien and Ransar Island. The affordable rest houses offer double bed accommodation with basic facilities. Ransar Island is a 12-kilometer boat ride from Nagrota Surien and about five kilometers from the Pong Water Sports Complex. To book Nagrota Surien and Ransar Island forest rest houses, contact Wild Life Circle Dharamshala, Wild Life Hamirpur and / or the Forest Department. http://hpforest.nic.in/contact2.htm
Himachal Pradesh Public and Works Department (H.P.P.W.D.) Rest Houses
To book the rest house at Nagrota Surien, you can contact executive engineer of Jawali Division of H.P.P.W.D. Fax No: 01893-264186. The room tariff amounts to INR 250.00 per night. You can also stay at rest houses in Jawali and Jwala Mukhi. The accommodation tariff starts from INR 350 per night. Contact the booking office over phone or via email.
Bhakra Beas Managemen Board (B.B.M.B.) Rest Houses
You can also stay at B.B.M.B. rest houses in Sansarpur Terrace (Pong Dam Site) and Talwara. http://bbmb.gov.in/english/citizen.asp
Govt. and Private hotels
Lodge at Pong, located within Pong Dam Wetland Sanctuary, commands views of the Dhauladhar Range and Maharana Pratap Sagar (Pong Lake). The lodge near Dhameta, Kangra District offers deluxe and standard rooms. The tariff starts from INR 4,000 per night. http://www.lodgeatpong.com/
Hotel Jwalaji, a property of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, is located in Jwalamukhi. You can choose from suites, super deluxe and semi deluxe rooms. The tariff ranges from INR 1,300 to INR 3,200 per night exclusive of taxes.
Basunti Retreat on the banks of the lake consists of the Main House and two lodges that feature ten rooms. http://www.basunti-yoga-india.co.uk/