Harike Wetland, the largest wetland in northern India, in the Tarn Taran Sahib, stands on the confluence of the rivers Beas and Sutlej in Punjab is a haven for birdwatchers. Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary is home to migratory birds visiting from as far as Arctic and Siberia. The wigeon, common teal, pintail, shoveller and brahminy ducks are commonly seen during the winter.
As a prior special permission is required to enjoy boating in Harike Wetland, Amritsar, tourists can delight in watching birds here on several trails here. Those who can obtain permission for the same can enjoy on the boat that rocks as the tempo of water changes while heading to the confluence, and proceeding further to marshes in proximity to Kapurthala along Sutlej channel.
The wetland spreads into three districts of Punjab namely Amritsar, Ferozepur, and Kapurthala is also known as “Hari-ke-Pattan”, where Satluj and Beas rivers merge. In 1953, a diversion was constructed across River Sutlej, which resulted in this manmade wetland. In addition, it is a rich source of water for the Indira Gandhi Canal (Rajasthan). The rich biodiversity (particularly birds) of Harike Wetland in Amritsar helps in maintaining the ecological balance and draws a host of tourists from far and wide.
Recognized throughout the world, Harike Wetland is amongst the most important wildlife sanctuaries of Punjab as well as the country. It was crowned with the Harike Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary in 1999. In 1990, its importance as a wetland of international stature caused it to be declared a Ramsar site by the International Body of Wetlands under the UNDP. Apart from avifauna, Harike Bird Sanctuary of Nihalpur, Punjab inhabits a number of rare and jeopardized faunal species, such as testudine, turtle and the smooth Indian otter. Other flora variety includes Indian wild boar, spot jungle cat, and mongoose that are seldom seen in any other part of the country.
The popular Harike Lake lies deep within the park. Diving ducks are an added attraction of the lake that include the variety scaup duck, whiteheaded stifftailed duck, common pochard, tufted ducks, and crested pochard. Floating vegetation of the park enhances the beauty of the wetland as colorful birds hovering around, present a visual treat in contrast to the emerald vegetation below.
There are many more local attractions for visitors as Harike Wetland is supposedly only an hour away from the city of Amritsar. Golden Temple and Wagah Border are a few of the attractions that are in proximity to this attraction.