Friday, April 23, 2010

Nainital Bird Heaven

From Kathgudam onwards the height appears striking. One can see steep rising hills with  tortuous winding road network. The climb up is steep and can be risky as the barriers on the side are missing at places. The driver of our bus drove with confidence and practiced fluency.  I held myself taught, not used to such heights and the plunging deep valleys. 

The place disappoints, we were going to Sat Tal which is some 14 km from Nainital. On my first visit I realized that Nainital was no more a tourist heaven it is more of a builders' paradise. Most of the hills have human dwellings - even flat systems. The sight is disappointing since few green patches remain. 

All the way through this part of Uttaranchal, I could see devastating effect of urbanization - unplanned and rampant. This was not what Jim Corbett had described in his books on man eating tigers and leopards. The urbanization certainly means end of the road for natural environment here. The lack of right policy regarding development in tourism zones  is apparent in this country.    

Sat Tal in Naini Tal district is a birders paradise still. The worst are the garbage  dumps - conspicuous by their absence. Whole surroundings are littered by plastic bags  - the quantity is astonishing. 

Kainchi Dham were we go for birding exhibits a rabid example of this, the rivulet is choked with plastic bags, litter and no one bothers. The tree line of the banks is receding and settlements are replacing them. The same devastation is apparent at Sat Tal township which is bustling with hotels, restaurants, colonization and private villas and what not. Thankfully Pachmarhi in MP has been saved from this scourge being a cantonment and a wildlife sanctuary that begins immediately.  

Naini Tal township is literary a Bhendi bazaar of milieu of tourists creating chaos. During my birding tours we have avoided this township which reeks of stuffed houses, choked bazaars and settlements littered with garbage on roofs and everywhere. Once a nature's paradise no more now.    

Pangot at greater height is untouched by ravages of uncontrolled tourism. But the forest denudation at places is of concern. I have seen hillsides occupied by settlements that are completely devoid of vegetation. Pangot offers mesmerizing view of Himalayan Ranges and is home to unique species of animals and birds. 

Corbett Tiger Reserve retains much of its glory in the core areas and the surroundings. But expanding civilization and urbanity sounds a death knell for this beautiful tiger heaven. The reserve is home to large number of bird species and fall in popular birding circuit in India.           

Many tour operators conduct bird watching tours  in Northern India. On a bird watching trip one can checklist a very large number of avian species.  But forest denudation is slowly destroying the habitats of birds in our country.

1 comment:

Salil Mohan said...

Very good information regarding Nainital.
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