Pong Dam Sanctuary also known as Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake.
Pong Dam Sanctuary is also a national wetland. In 1975, it was created as a result of a dam built across Beas River. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1983, and is now also a Ramsar site. 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, which shelters a great number of Indian Wildlife animals.
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 around 22 species of fish, including rare fish like sal and gad. The adequate water level of the lake makes it an ideal destination to indulge in water sports.
Flora: Eucalyptus, acacia, jamun, shisham, mango, mulberry, ficus, kachanar, amla and prunus.
Fauna: Barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards and oriental small-clawed otters. Fish: Labeo, rohita, mahasheer, singhara, sal, gad.
Avian-Fauna: Black-headed gulls, Red neck grebes, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl egrets, and more.
Birds: This sanctuary 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 March.
Exact Location: It is situated in the district of Kangra of Himachal Pradesh.
Area: 240 sq. km
Route: It 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 is the best season for bird watching.
Things to keep in mind
- Carry Binoculars
- Do not speak loudly in the sanctuary area
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.