Pong Dam reservoir or Pong Dam lake is a national wetland. It was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1983.
Pong Dam Also known as Maharana Pratap Sagar. In 1975, it was created as a result of Pong dam built across Beas River. The sanctuary plays host to around 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families. Migratory birds from all over Hindukush Himalayas and also as far as Siberia come here during winter.
The sanctuary area is covered with tropical and sub-tropical forests, comprising of eucalyptus, acacia, jamun, shisham, mango, mulberry, ficus, kachanar, amla and prunus. The forest area shelters a great number of wild animals including barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards and oriental small-clawed otters.
The lake is fed by Beas River and its numerous perennial tributaries such as Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner. The placid lake harbours a number of fish species, including rare fish like sal and gad.
Bird Watching: Pong Dam is a visual treat for avid bird watchers. Around 220 species of birds have made this sanctuary there home. Its a real treat to spot and watch the rare Red-necked grebes that visit the lake from October to Match. Some of the other birds that can be spotted here are Black-headed gulls, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl egrets, and more.
Water Sports: The Pong Dam Lake was formed as a result of the construction of Pong Dam over Beas River. It is fed by Beas River and its numerous perennial tributaries such as Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner. The adequate water level of the lake makes it an ideal destination to indulge in water sports, including canoeing, kayaking, rowing, sailing, yatching, and water skiing.
Angling: The reservoir of the Pong Dam right up to the town of Dehra has ideal spots for angling. Around 27 fish species belonging to five families have been recorded in the lake. Mahseer is the prized catch“2kg-5kg are common catches and if you are lucky, catch weighing 8kg-10kg can also fall in your trap. The other fish in the lake are malhi, soal, carp, shovell-headed catfish, bachwa, snakefish and singara. Here, the angling rules are liberal and the fee for the license is nominal.
Exact Location: Maharana Pratap Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Kangra district
Nearest Town: Dharamsala
How to Reach: Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary is at a distance of 8 km from Kangra and easily is accessible from Masrur, Pathankot and Nurpur. Its connected by regular bus service with Dharamsala and Pathankot, and taxis are also available.
The nearest railhead is the Mukerian railway station which is 30 km away. One can also reach this sanctuary by reaching Kangra Mandir railway station (narrow gauge) which is at a distance of 22 km. Since it is a small station, most of the trains do not halt here. The major rail junction is at Pathankot, which is about 32+ km away. Pathakot is well connected with all the major cities in and around India.
The nearest airport is the Gaggal airport in Kangra valley. The airport is at a distance of 12 km from Dharamsala and 40+ km from the sanctuary and reaching here, one can hire a taxi to reach Dharamsala.
Best Time to Visit: November to March
Advisory: There are five rest houses located at Dehra Gopipur, Jawali, Nagrota Surain, Dhameta and Haripur. There are also two small motor launches in the wildlife sanctuary. There is also a PWD rest house close to Pong Dam. There are many hotels at Kangra and Dharmasala.
Dharamsala: This is a highly captivating town in the upper reaches of Kangra Valley. The town is divided into two three parts”the upper Dharamsala called Mcleodganj, the middle Kotwali Bazar and the lower Kaccheri area. Dharamshala is bounded by dense pine and deodar forests, tea gardens and beautiful hills. The place plays host to the Tibetans population and Tibetan government in exile. Dharamsala is also the starting point to a number of trekking trails that lead trekkers across Dhauladhar into the upper Ravi Valley and Chamba district.
Masrur: A picturesque town, Masrur is situated at an altitude of 800 m above sea level. The place is a famous pilgrim centre for the followers of Hindu religion. The place houses 10th century built 15 rock-cut monolithic temples that resemble the Ajanta and Ellora caves. One can also find beautiful images of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Goddess Sita, apart from other deities and legendary figures.