The wetlands, also called ‘Hari-ke-Pattan’ is the largest wetland in northern India, with the Harike Lake situated in its deeper part and is located in the Tarn Sahib District in Punjab. The wetland was formed in 1953 by constructing head works across the Sutlej River. The wetlands are a cross between a river and a lake thus making it a unique location and ecological niche which spreads into three districts namely, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Kapurthala in Punjab and covers an area of 10131.32 acres.
The wetlands are a bio diverse area which houses many species of turtles, snakes, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. The rich concentration of migratory avifauna which includes a vast number of globally threatened species has given the wetlands the recognition of a Bird sanctuary which was renamed in 1982 as ‘the Harike Pattan bird sanctuary’ with an extended area of 21251.06 acres. Even the Indira Gandhi canal in Rajasthan is fed from this source and is reportedly rich in ground water resource.
Reportedly, around 200 different species of birds visit this area during the winters the commonly photographed species include Cotton Pygmy Goose, Tufted Duck, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Yellow-eyed Pigeon or Pale-backed Pigeon, Water Cock, Pallas’s Gull or Great Black-headed Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-footed Gull, Indian Skimmer, White-winged Tern, White-romped Vulture, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Hawk, Eurasian Hobby, Horned Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, White-browed Fantail, Brown Shrike, Common Woodshrike, White-tailed Stonechat, White-crowned Penduline-tit, Rufous-vented Prinia, Striated Grassbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Sulphur-bellied Warbler and Diving duck. The Indus dolphin, which was supposedly extinct in India, was also spotted here, exemplifying the importance of this man made ecological niche.