Apr 18, 2012

Is Jam Ka Nasha Abhi Tak Hai....

(I know the title of this post does sound a bit cheesy but this alone could express my feeling of intoxication about this city whose tale I am going to narrate. I am sure you will get intoxicated too as you read along  & browse through the pictures.)

This was not the first time that I was visiting this city, but was the first one as an urban yayawar!

Unlike a traveler for the purpose of commerce, this time, the perspective was different. Yet, as we reached the town, I was realizing the similarities this city shares with my hometown, Mumbai.

The winter afternoon being used by the people – children, teenagers & adults alike, in playing cricket, resembled any of the numerous gullies of Mumbai. In fact, rather than Mumbai, this city should have been the Mecca of Indian Cricket – what with 2 of the premier national level tournaments named after the great crickters of the country, who happened to be the rulers of this erstwhile
Princely State. But it is not!

It is a lesser known fact, but after Mumbai, this is the only city in India having all three wings of Defense, i.e. Army, Navy and Air Force. However, it still does not get the prominence which Mumbai gets!

As a coastal city, it also could have been the premier port town of the country. No doubt, it is a busy harbour, and ideally located, but a premier port? No, it is not!

Jamanagar Ships

Of course, it is the Oil Town of the country, with world’s largest crude refinery located near the town. Yet, in the world of commerce, the city is not a frontrunner.

And yes, migrants do favour this city, but these are a different variety of migrants - the feathered ones who come flying from far away across the mountains & oceans.

Yes, in a way, this city is almost like Mumbai, but something differentiate it from Mumbai, and how! There is essentially a lazed & laidback kind of ambience that is all pervasive in the city of Jamnagar, an absolute anti-thesis to the urgency led hectic life of Mumbai. Perhaps, despite all the similarities, this alone has somehow ensured that it has not been able to achieve the status of the Mega-city. And that perhaps is the reason why this city is way ahead of Mumbai when it comes to nature-watching, specially birds.


It has been said that when you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it. Well, as we approached Jamnagar, with almost 48 hours to spend, before boarding the train back to Mumbai we were looking at our aspirations as the birdwatchers; the hope was that Jamnagar stays true to its much prided reputation amongst birders.

There was a feeling of curiosity & excitement, coupled with the fear of unknown as we went exploring the city & the areas around it. Stating that our aspirations were fulfilled would not be doing justice to the true charms of the city. Jamnagar’s bird population is largely centered around a couple of sanctuaries, away from the city & at the beaches near the mouth of its Ports – Bedi Port & Rozi Port.

At Lakhota Lake - Dalmatians and Cormorants
But unlike other urban areas, the the surprise packages of Jamnagar’s birdlife are the pockets of birdlife within the city. Lakhota Lake, a man- made lake at the heart of the city, & the wasteland near Jamnagar Railway Station allow an eyeful feast of birds for eager watchers.


At both these places, one can get much closer, than any other place in India, to Pelicans, Flamingoes, Cormorants, terns, Ducks & waders – all busy in their own routines. With proximity to the coastal area, as well as shallow fresh water lakes within & outside, the city did look promising. We, out to explore the birdlife, chose Khijadiya & Narara as the preferred destinations.

Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary


In a direction towards Rajkot located at a distance of about 12 km. from Jamnagar lies Khijadiya bird sanctuary. These are two fresh water lakes, which were formed by reclamation bunds. On one side of the bund fresh water lakes are formed by water which drains from Ruparel and Kalinri rivers.

Khijadiya Panorama 2

On the other side of the bund, large creeks flowing from the Gulf of Kutch are located. These creeks support mangroves and other marine vegetations on the Gulf side, thus creating a unique wetland eco-system, found nowhere else in India.

With this kind of diversity in the eco-system, the avifauna life was also of varied nature, where nothing could have looked out of place.


Oriental white-eyes & Paradise Flycatchers were at home as much as the varieties of waders were.


Black Necked Stork flying in a hurry surely was a familiar sight for a mumbaikar, experiencing it everyday as thousands of us hurry through to reach our work stations.

Amidst constant patrolling of sky by the Marsh Harriers, River Terns and Brown Headed Gulls,


Pelicans kept taking off & landing with precision like the huge aircrafts.

Great Crested Grebe, for whom this place is a breeding ground, alongwith cormorants, coots, pochards, teals & pintails using their diving skills for fishing & Indian coursers and larks tilling the field in search of their food at the same location are rare to find, but was a common sight here.

Neelgai_in_jamnagar crop
The wild boars, Neelgais & Jungle cats managed to complete the picture.

Marine National Park - Narara

The earlier winter morning we had headed to Narara Maine Sanctuary, the first ever of its kind in India. Narara is situated at the mouth of Gulf of Kutch, at a distance of 60 kms from Jamnagar. As the tidal water recedes, it leaves behind the mudfats & live corals stretching for almost two kilometers. Though wading through the sea water gets tiring &, with backpacks & a camera, a bit cumbersome, the pleasure of getting close to the marine life makes it really worthwhile.

Just beneath the surface lies the treasure of numerous creatures within reach, including the live sponge, crabs, sea anemones, sea urchins and sea slugs.

Puffer Fish Normal

Puffed Up

Of course, not to forget a variety of fishes - starfish, brittle starfish, puffer fish to name a few, and  


the octopus that could be picked up easily but was difficult to hold onto.

Crab Plover

Naturally, the place is also a hunting ground for a number of waders, storks & herons. The most prized catch though is of Crab-Plovers, a strikingly beautiful coastal bird that is a regular winter visitor to the coasts around Jamnagar.

Western reef Egret

The salt panes around Narara also provide the sightings of birds, including Great White & Dalmatian Pelicans, Black tailed Godwits & Western Reef Egrets.


To all those interested in All Creatures - Great & Small, I would recommend a visit to Narara. Experiencing the marine life from close quarters is an obvious reason for such a visit. But more important, as one stands amidst water with only the shades of blues & whites all around, the soul reaches out in unison to other creatures around, making you feel getting closer to the God. On the second thought, this stands true for the city of Jamnagar itself.


As the train departed for Mumbai at a leisurely pace, the last sight of Jamnagar was the large flock of lesser flamingoes, in their symphony of pink & white. That I was tempted to pull the chain & get down to be left behind among those glorious feathered creatures is stating the obvious. That I did not do it was as much out of fear of breaking the law as much because of the promise to self of visiting this place again..and again.. and again…!!