‘Lying at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej, it welcomes visitors from Siberia and the Arctic.’
Harike Wetland is the largest wetland in northern India and is located in the Tarn Taran Sahib district of Punjab. The popular Harike Lake lies deep within the park. This man-made wetland was created as a result of the diversion constructed across the Sutlej River in 1953 and therefore stands at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers. It occupies an area of 4100 hectares and spreads into three districts of Punjab namely Amritsar, Ferozepur and Kapurthala. It is also a water source for the Indira Gandhi Canal, situated in Rajasthan. The rich biodiversity (particularly birds) of this wetland helps in maintaining the ecological as well as ecological balance and attracts a large number of tourists. The Harike Wetland also known as Hari-ke-pattan is a famous destination for bird watchers. There are many more local attractions for visitors as it is supposedly only an hour away from the city of Amritsar.
[Also Checkout: Top 100 National Parks in India]
The summer season is quite hot with temperature lying in the range 23˚C – 45˚C from March to July. Heavy monsoon hits the city sometime during July to September. The winter season lasts from October to February.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Harike is during the winter months from October to February when a lot of migratory birds are known to visit the wetland.
Wildlife & Vegetation
Aqua fauna is present predominantly in the Harike area. As many as 7 species of turtle and 26 species of fishes have been reported here. These include the endangered testudines turtle, smooth Indian otter etc. Fish varieties found here include rohu, catla, channa, chitala chitala, puntinus, cyprinus, ambasis etc. The Indus dolphin that was previously reported extinct in India and found primarly in Pakistan was recently spotted at Harike Wetland. The terrestrial animals found here include mongoose, Indian wild boar, common jackal and jungle cat.
Come winter, come birds! Around 200 species of avian fauna are known to visit Harike during the winter season from far off lands such as Siberia and the Arctic. These include cotton pygmy goose, brown headed gull, sulphur bellied warbler, white winged tern, tufted duck, hawk, brown shrike, striated grassbird, Eurasian tree sparrow, Indian skimmer, yellow crowned woodpecker to name a few. As many as 45,000 ducks have been recorded here during the peak season. You ought to keep your binoculars ready to catch a glimpse of these spectacular species.
The wetland is rich in floating vegetation comprising of plant species such as Eicchornia crassipes, Azolla, the lotus, typha, ipomoea aquatica etc. The floating vegetation paints a stupendous picture of scenic beauty with all the colourful birds flying over. Recently the wetland faces major threat from the widespread weed water hyacinth that seems to clog the irrigation supplies.
Distance From Nearby And Major Cities
Harike wetland is close to the cities of Amritsar, Ferozepur and Kapurthala. Distance from these and other major cities is as follows:
- Amritsar: 58.5 km via NH 15
- Ferozepur: 66 km via SH 20 and NH 15
- Kapurthala: 69 km via NH 703A
- b 79 km via Dalla Rd
- Ludhiana: 108 km via SH 20
- Chandigarh: 210 km via NH 95
- Jammu: 267.4 km via NH 1A and NH 15
- Himachal Pradesh: 294 km via Shimla – Nalagarh – Dhanauli Marg.
- New Delhi: 434 km via NH 1
- Jaipur: 620 km via NH 11 and RJ SH 7
- Mumbai: 1680 km via NH 8
How To Reach
- By air: Nearest airport is at Amritsar at a distance of 60 km from Harike Wetland.
- By rail: Nearest railway station is at Amritsar situated 60 km away.
- By road: From Amritsar, you can hire a bus or a cab towards Harike Wetland. A cab ride costs around Rs. 1600 – 2000 (or more) for a day trip.
- Harike Lake and Harike Bird Sanctuary at the Wetland are worth a visit for adventure seekers, nature lovers and bird lovers.
- The city of Amritsar is only an hour’s drive from Harike Wetland. A number of tourist attractions speaking volumes about India’s struggle for independence are present throughout the city.
Private hotels and guest houses are available at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana.
Other Useful Information
- There is no entry fee at Harike Wetland.