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Pong witnesses migratory birds taking off due to mild winter


Himachal Pradesh: The mild weather observed this winter at Pong, located in the Kangra valley of Himalayas, resulted in many migratory bird species leaving the place, wildlife officials said.

Pong is one of the largest man-made wetlands situated in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India.

An estimation of waterfowl, both local and migratory, by the state wildlife wing conducted last week at Pong, found that their number has declined by over 30,000 against last year’s count of over 135,000 birds.

Around 128,000 waterfowl from 119 species were recorded in 2014.

The influx of waterfowl in the Pong wetlands every winter is normally over the 120,000 mark.

Around 105,000 waterfowl of 87 species were spotted during the three-day census conducted from February 2.

The decline in their number was mainly due to milder temperatures in the trans-Himalayas, their native habitat, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Pong wetlands) D.S. Dadwal, who was associated with the census, told reporters.

Ornithologists from the Bombay Natural History Society, the Chandigarh Bird Club, the Himachal Bird Club, the Asian Waterfowl Census, wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers and volunteers participated in the dawn-to-dusk bird counting exercise.

Waterfowl species are those birds that depend on water bodies for roosting and feeding. Last year, 93 species were spotted by the wildlife wing.

Even the count of the bar-headed geese, regular and prominent winter visitors in the Pong Dam wetlands spread over 307 square km, declined massively this winter.

A staggering 71,800 bar-headed geese were recorded last year, a new mark. This year, their number is around 44,000.

Flying thousands of kilometers from their native habitat in high-altitude lakes in Central Asia to avoid the extreme winter chill, the elegant shaped bar-headed geese, an endangered migratory bird species, regularly descend on India.

The Pong Dam wetlands have been emerging as their preferred wintering ground.

Listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the global population of the bar-headed geese is believed to be around 130,000, wildlife experts say.

Besides the bar-headed goose, other prominent species spotted in Pong in the Kangra Valley, some 250 km from Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla and 190 km from Chandigarh, are the coot, common Pochard, red-crested Pochard, great cormorant, Gadwall, Nnorthern Pintail, river tern and the Spotbill duck.

Other species recorded are the common Shelduck, the greater white fronted goose, the black bellied tern, the Sarus crane, the lesser white-fronted goose, the osprey, the buff bellied pipit and water rail. These species are not common visitors in other wetlands in India.

In Pong, an influx of the bar-headed geese can be spotted in marshy areas along the reservoir like Nagrota Suriyan, Nandpur Batoli, Chatta, Jambal and the Rancer island, say wildlife officials.

Figures from the Met Office show February 5 was the warmest day of the month in Shimla town in the past one decade with the maximum temperature recorded at 21.8 degrees Celsius, 13 degrees higher than the long-term average.

The 307 sq km Pong wetlands are also home to many native birds like the red jungle fowl, large Indian parakeet, Indian cuckoo, bank mynah, wood shrike, yellow-eyed babbler, black ibis, paradise flycatcher, crested lark and the crested bunting.

A total of 423 species of birds, 18 species of snakes, 90 species of butterflies, 24 species of mammals and 27 species of fish have so far been recorded in the Pong Dam wildlife sanctuary. (Vishal Gulati, IANS) (Photo:

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Himalayan Yogi to open art gallery consisting 8 quintal photographs

Wanderer Baba aka Click Baba Swami Sundaranand is all set to open his art gallery consisting of Himalayas pictures

Himalayan Yogi
Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Himalayan Yogi Sundaranand is also known as “Himalayan Wikipedia Baba”, have clicked 8 quintal photos in beautiful Himalayas

You must have heard about Himalayan yogis living upto hundreds of years and having miracle powers. But his is the story of a wanderer Sadhu, who is a mountaineer and photographer by choice. He has a deep connection with Himalayas. He is known to be a principal advocate for the ecological preservation of the Himalayas, the Ganges and its source at Gangotri.

During 1962 war Indian Army also seek help from this Himalayan Yogi as he was very much aware with all the rotes and region in Himalayas. The photographs he clicked weighs around 8 quintals.

Sundaranand’s love for Himalayas started at a young age when he read a book named “Himgiri Vihaar” by Tapovan Maharaja. He was so inspired by the book that he went to Tapovan Maharaja and started Yoga Sadhna under his guidance.

In 1956 he bought a camera for Rs. 25 from a Belgian tourist. And since then he has been clicking the beautiful Himalayas. He has taken more than 100,000 photos, over a 50-year period, of the shrinking Gangotri glacier in the Indian Himalayas.

Himalayan Yogi is now all set to open his Himalayan art gallery at a height of 10,310 feet in Gangotri region. He has invested Rs. 2 crores in this project, money which he got through royalty of his book “Himalaya : Through a lens of a Sadhu”. His book was launched by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Swami Sundaranand is the subject of a feature documentary shot at his home in Gangotri titled Personal time with Swamiji. The film was produced by The Centre for Healing Arts and directed by Victor Demko.

Himalayan Yogi Sundaranand is also a skilled naturalist that is familiar with thousands of Himalayan plants and he knows the lore and medicinal uses of these species. The most important parts of his life are meditation, japa and pranayama. As a younger man he was an accomplished hatha yogi, mastering 300 postures, and he continues to practice it daily. He is very devoted to the ecosystem in which he has lived for forty years and believes that “God does not reside in temples or mosques – he is scattered everywhere in the courtyard of nature.

So Himalayan Yogi’s art gallery you can not miss to visit! Plan your trip soon and thank us later.

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These 6 Untouched and Unexplored Indian Villages Will Make your Vacation Memorable!

Here are some untouched and unexplored Indian that will fill your eyes with admiration

Indian Villages
Nubra Valley in Ladakh. Pixabay

July 07, 2017: 

India essentially being a rural country acquired the urbanisation in the recent decades. However, there still exist some spellbinding hamlets dwelled in some parts of the country. These Indian villages are perched away from the hustle bustle of city life. Inhabitants of these villages live a peaceful and serene life.

Here are some untouched and unexplored Indian villages that will fill your eyes with admiration:

Lamayouro (Ladakh)

Indian Villages
Lamayuru Monastery in Ladakh. Wikimedia

Lamayuru village dwells in Khalsi Tehsil of Leh district in Jammu & Kashmir. The village is a peaceful dwelling with 117 households. The high altitude lands and azure blue sky provides a perfect pictorial landscape for the onlookers.

Chitkul Village, Himachal

Indian Villages
Chitkul is a village in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, inhabited near the Indo-China border. Wikimedia

Chitkul is a beautiful hamlet in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is also the last inhabited village near the Indo-China border. In winters, you will find the village draped in snow due to which the inhabitants move to the lower region of Himachal. The picturesque landscape of Chitkul is one thing which remains in the heart forevermore.

Zuluk Village, Sikkim

Indian Villages
The image was captured at lower Zuluk province. It is a small village in the Himalayas. There are a lot of rows in a row from the mountain. The amazing beauty of nature can be seen. Wikimedia

Zuluk is small hamlet nearby the Indo-Tibet border with military settlement in the area. This beautiful village of India renders enthralling experience to the visitors who looking for the tranquil sojourn. Lofty mountains, verdant grasslands, and cerulean skies are what makes the place unprecedented.

Also Read: Artist Ashish Kushwaha’s Tribute to his Inspiration – Nature: This Exhibition compels us to think about Present day Human Habits 

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya

Indian Villages
Mawlynnong is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of the Meghalaya state, India. It is famous for its cleanliness and natural attraction. Mawlynnong was awarded the prestigious tag of ‘Cleanest Village in Asia’ in 2003 by Discover India Magazine. As of June 2015, it had 500 residents. There are several homestays for interested tourists. Wikimedia

Mawlynnong village was being declared the “Asia’s cleanest village”. The waste is accumulated in the dustbins made of bamboo, directed to a pit and later used as a manure. A community initiative decrees that all inmates of the village should engage in the cleanliness of village. The scenic Mawlynnong also promotes itself as the “God’s own garden”. The village is located near Bangladesh border, three hours distance from Shillong. The natural panorama of the clean village is worth praising.

Pragpur, Kangra Valley

Indian Villages
At Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. Wikimedia

Pragpur, a quaint little village drew attention when the state government, in 1997, declared it as a Heritage Village, making it the first such village in India. The winding cobbled lane, mud-plastered walls and slate-roofed houses of the village makes it a perfect heritage site.

Hunder, Nubra Valley

Indian Villages
This is en route town called Hunder in the Nubra Valley. Wikimedia

Hundar is a hamlet in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is dwelled in the Nubra tehsil, on the shores of Shyok River.

By Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

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Chandigarh’s landmark Sukhna Lake is no more the picturesque Water Body: Here is Why!

In just under six decades, the area under water of the scenic lake, which has the Kasauli Hills and lower Himalayas in the backdrop, has shrunk by nearly 57 per cent

Sukhna Lake, Pixabay

– by Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh, May 16, 2017: Large patches of dry bed, more than 50 percent of the water body showing its dirty and smelly underbelly of weeds, boating limited to a small area and marine and bird-life affected — Chandigarh’s landmark Sukhna Lake is no more the picturesque water body that used to attracts thousands of people every day.

In just under six decades, the area under water of the scenic lake, which has the Kasauli Hills and lower Himalayas in the backdrop, has shrunk by nearly 57 per cent.

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While going dry is not entirely a new phenomenon for the rivulet and rain-fed Sukhna Lake, this year is particularly bad as the lake started drying up quite early in the summer.

With monsoon rains over the region not likely to arrive for the next 45-50 days, Sukhna Lake could be headed for one of its worst dry periods.

With an average depth of eight feet and a maximum of 16 feet, Sukhna Lake is barely managing to stay afloat in some parts. The water depth in some areas, where boating is still being allowed in a restricted area, is just about 2-3 feet.

Built in 1958, the Sukhna Lake was spread over an area of three square km. In 2016, the area of the lake under water was reduced to a mere 1.3 square km.

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With rainfall over the region not being as high in recent years as earlier, the seasonal rivulets have not been able to maintain the supply of water to the lake. The construction of over 200 check dams in the Sukhna choe (rivulet) and other rivulets, which feed the lake from the catchment areas of neighbouring Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, in the past over four decades, has also meant that the lake gets lesser water from upstream.

“The check dams were constructed to stop silt from coming to the lake. But it stopped the water flow too,” Yogesh Kumar, a retired engineer, who has been coming to the lake since the 1970s, told IANS.

The lake complex, which attracts hundreds of visitors, tourists, regular morning and evening walkers, fitness freaks and even lovelorn couples, presents a picture of neglect as far as the water body is concerned.

“We had heard a lot about Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake. But we are disappointed after coming here. The lake has very little water and looks ugly in some parts,” Suresh Das, a tourist from Kolkata, who stopped with his family while en route to Shimla, told IANS.

Last year, the water level of the lake was not even close to its maximum water storage capacity of 1,167 feet. Even at the end of the monsoon season, the water level stood at only 1,154 feet. It is down to about 1,151 feet now.

Such is the state of affairs that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had to intervene last year and direct the Chandigarh Administration to list immediate steps to save the lake.

Despite the administration, on the directions of the high court, spending up to Rs 15 lakh ($23,000) to pump water into the lake from five tubewells, the effort hardly helped in saving the lake from going dry.

The high court even appointed an amicus curiae to invite suggestions from experts, environmentalists and concerned citizens to save the lake.

Sukhna, the most popular tourist spot in the city along with the Rock Garden, was built in 1958 by making a three-kilometre-long dam on the Sukhna Choe. It was conceived as a place of relaxation, seclusion and sport by the city’s founder-architect, Le Corbusier.

The lake is situated in an upscale and VIP area of Chandigarh, with the governors of Haryana and Punjab, senior officers of the administration and some affluent people residing in its immediate vicinity.

The lake, which is a national wetland, has lost its water body area to silt and forest cover that has grown on this area.

The man-made lake has a capacity of only around 500 hectare metres against the original capacity of over 1,074 hectare metres in the late 1950s when it was built.

In the late 1980s, comedian Jaspal Bhatti and members of his “Nonsense Club” had played cricket on the dry bed of the lake to highlight the plight of the water body. They were chased away by the police.

Boating activity at the lake is very popular with over 100 paddle and rowing boats and some Shikaras’ (traditional boats like those in Srinagar’s famous Dal Lake) being booked by people daily for boating. (IANS)

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