VEDANTHANGAL BIRD SANCTUARY
VEDANTHANGAL BIRD SANCTUARY
THE BIRD PARADISE
State Tamil Nadu
Location Off NH45 from the state capital Chennai, close to the small town of Padalam in
Distance 86 km SW of Chennai
Route from Chennai NH45 to Padalam Junction via Chengalpattu; district road to Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
ABOUT VEDANTHANGAL SANCTUARY
Said to be the oldest water sanctuary in India, the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary was granted legal protection in 1798. Spread over 30 hectares, the ecosystem of the tank is made up of islands of Barringtonia mangroves, evergreen scrub and thorn forest. The area was recognised as a sanctuary in 1936. The 1962 Madras Forest Act accorded it the staus of a reserve forest and, subsequently, the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act pronounced it a Wildlife Sanctuary.
When to go The sanctuary season is Nov to Mar. Breeding season lasts from Oct/ Nov to March, peaking in Dec-Jan when about 30,000 birds nest here Go there for Painted storks, Oriental darters and ibis
Wildlife/Forest Dept office
Wildlife Warden's office
DMS Campus, Teynampet
STD code 044
Take NH45 from Chennai to the nearest township called Chengalpattu. From here, continue to the Padalam Junction (Padalam Town is 12 km from the sanctuary). Turning right from here, drive for about 20 mins and you'll pass the Forest Rest House (FRH); drive on for another kilometre to reach the sanctuary gate, the adjoining ticket booth and the car park. There is an interpretation centre (in a state of disrepair, but of some interest), where a knowledgeable ticket col- lector will also act as your guide. Guides can be hired at the sanctuary as well.
The birds can be viewed from the clear, stone paved path that follows the western embankment of the lake. Most of the facilities seem to have been designed with the tourist in mind and are very well-maintained. There are granite benches along the way for you to rest and various watchtowers (with winding staircases) that offer good views of the sanctuary, though I don't think the binoculars affixed to the towers were working when we were there. For good measure, there are even bath- rooms at the sanctuary!
You might want to plan a weekday tour as it gets very crowded on weekends
Sanctuary entry fee Rs 5 per person Camera fee Rs 25 Parking fee Rs 10 Sanctuary timings Sunrise to sunset
• Painted stork, cormorant, egret, spoonbill, Oriental darter, white ibis, grey pelican, grebe, sandpiper, shoveller, tern, open-billed stork, pin-tailed duck. Some have come from as far away as Australia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The migratory species include Brahminy kite, booted and short toed snake eagles, Montagu's and Eurasian marsh harriers
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
You can spend long hours just watching the birds go about their daily routine and not get bored at all. Children, in particular, will find a visit to this bird sanctuary an engrossing one.
Follow the paved path, dotted with watchtowers and benches, to survey the birds nesting in the tank area and their counterparts in the surrounding fields and scrub. Amongst the different bird species here, look for white ibis, Asian spoonbill, grey heron, grey pelican, rosy pelican, night heron and cormorant. Both in the sanctuary areas and outside (especially in the surrounding fields and grasslands), you are bound to spot the Eurasian thick-knee, black-headed cuckoo shrike and yellow-wattled lapwing, apart from several other Indian species.
Take binoculars, a bird book and a zoom lens camera to make most of your visit
Vendanthangal is fantastic for kids for the simple reason that there are hundreds of birds around that are sure to catch their imagination. When we visited, it was early evening, and the home- ward-bound goats, cattle and calves, meandering along the birding path, made the walk even more eventful.
The brahminy kite is more of a scavenger than a hunter. In fact it's a coastal and marshland bully swooping down to snatch food from lesser birds and in some cases large raptors such as the white-bellied fish eagle. It usually eats its catch on the wing to prevent theft and doesn't dive into water
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
The Forest Rest House (Chennai Tel: 044-24321471, 24791630; Tariff: Rs 300- 400), 1 km from the sanctuary gate, has 4 clean, well-maintained rooms (2 AC and 2 non-AC). Meals are also available on request. There is a playground for kids. Reservations can be done through the Wildlife Warden's office in Chennai. There is a cluster of tea shops where you can have some refreshments right outside the main gate of the sanctuary. There are also a few gift shops here. You will also find vendors selling guavas and tender coconuts (Rs 8), and delicious watermelons at an unbelievable price of Rs 5 each.
Karikili Bird Sanctuary
Just 9 km west on Uttaramerur Road, this is another great retreat for birdwatchers. You should plan to spend at least a night at Vedanthangal so that you can get to Karikili early, to en joy the wonderful morning scenery. For details, contact Selvam on 044-27500006.
Road Take NH45 from Chennai (86 km/1 ½ hrs) to the nearest big town Chengalpattu (35 km), and continue south to Padalam Junction. (Padalam is a small town in the opposite direction from the sanctuary.) Turn right here to access the sanctuary road. Vedanthangal can also be approached from Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram but the roads are in poor condition. Buses ply from Chennai to Chengalpattu; onward connections available to the sanctuary. But the best option is your own transport. Or hire a taxi from Chennai (Rs 6 per km)