Harike Wetland is the largest man-made wetland in Northern India!
It’s time to put on your explorer hat, grab your binoculars, and get ready to discover this beautiful sanctuary. Situated on the border of Tarn Taran Sahib district, Hari-ke-Pattan, as it is locally known, is spread over three districts of Punjab – Amritsar, Kapurthala, and Ferozepur – and spans over 4100 hectares of land.
This magnificent wetland was created in 1952 when a barrage was built at the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers. The Harike Lake, located in the heart of the region, is a beautiful sight to behold and attracts a large number of tourists. The bird sanctuary in the wetland is a treat for birdwatchers and nature lovers as it is home to over 375 species of birds, including exotic and endangered migratory birds that come here during the winter season.
But that’s not all! The sanctuary boasts of several varieties of animals such as amphibians, turtles, snakes, fish, and invertebrates. Here, you can spot seven species of turtles and 26 species of fish, including testudines turtles, smooth Indian otters, catla, channa, rohu, chitala chitala, puntinus, ambasis, and cyprinus. The Indus dolphin was reported extinct before it was spotted here again. You might also come across Indian wild boars, common jackals, jungle cats, and mongooses, making this a wildlife lover’s dream destination.
The wetland is also a haven for close to 200 species of birds that fly down annually from far-off regions like the Arctic and Siberia, making it an exciting bird-watching spot. Among the popular bird species are cotton pygmy goose, tufted duck, Pallas’s gull, brown-headed gull, black-headed gull, yellow-footed gull, Indian skimmer, yellow-crowned woodpecker, yellow-eyed pigeon, water cock, hawk, Eurasian hobby, white-winged tern, white-rumped vulture, hen harrier, Eurasian tree sparrow, horned grebe, and black-necked grebe.
If you plan to visit Harike Wetland, the best time to do so is during the winter season, between the months of October and February. The nearest town to the wetland is Makhu, and the Railway Station and Bus Stand are situated 10 km south of Harike town, which connects to Ferozpur, Faridkot, and Bhatinda by the National Highway. Just remember to take prior permission from forest officials for entry!