In the world of bird-watching, there’s a popular saying that goes something like, “In order to really see the birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence”. Every bird watcher, novice or expert would know the importance of disconnecting from the world and connecting with nature for the perfect birding experience. If you happen to be a birdwatcher who’s had enough of commercialised and touristy bird sanctuaries or just someone who’s looking for some solace in the lap of nature, the Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh is exactly where you should be heading to right away!
Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
Located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, the Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary is spread across an area of 218 sq. km. and gets its name from the Red Eagle Division of the Indian Army which had its base here in the 1950s. The sanctuary is best known for it's extreme altitudes, rich flora and fauna including some rare species and scintillating landscapes that will take your breath away!
The sanctuary is known to house more than 700 recorded species of exotic birds and shot to fame after the spotting of Bugun Liocichla—a peculiar bird species named after Bugun community. Apart from Bugun Liocichla, Eaglenest is also home to other rare species such as Ward’s Trogon, Beautiful Nuthatch, and Wedge-Billed Babbler amongst others. In addition to the plethora of winged creatures, the park also houses a healthy number of Asian elephants, black bears and Bengal tigers amongst others.
Why visit Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary
1. Explore the park
The best way to explore the Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary is to hire a well-read and experienced guide and take a rented tour of the park. If you want a slightly more immersive experience, you can trek through the park, to soak in the beauty and watch the birds in their natural habitat.
2. Say cheese!
Owing to the park’s scenic beauty, Eaglenest is a haven for all photography enthusiasts who flock here from different parts of the world to capture the park’s awe-inspiring landscapes and exotic birds. Don’t forget to carry extra batteries because you just won’t be able to get over this place!
3. A soulful experience
Located at a distance of about 20 km from the sanctuary, lies a quaint little town of Tawang that houses the second largest monastery in the world, the Tawang Monastery. The monastery is believed to be 400 years old and is an abode for over 300 monks. A visit to the monastery is bound to be a mystical experience that will cleanse you inside out.
4. Honour the heroes
Tawang also houses the famous Tawang War Memorial, a 40-feet tall colourful structure constructed in honour of the martyrs of Sino-India War of 1962. Visit the memorial to pay your respects to the war heroes while experiencing some breath-taking views of the Tawang-Chu valley.
How to get here
Here is how you can get to the bird sanctuary from New Delhi:
By Air: The closest airport to Eaglenest Bird Sanctuary is the Tezpur airport situated at a distance of 150km. A one-way ticket from New Delhi to Tezpur will cost around ₹6500 and the sanctuary is approximately a four-hour drive from the airport.
By Train: The closest railway station to Eaglenest is Bhalukpong, which is at a distance of about 100km. There is no direct train from Delhi to Bhalukpong and it takes about 48 hours to get to Bhalukpong from the capital city.
Permits and Entry fee
While Indian tourists need a Inner Line Permit to visit Arunachal Pradesh, non-Indian tourists will need to get a Restricted Area Permit. One can get the permit issued from the office of Deputy Resident Commissioner which will then be checked at Bhalukpong. The Circle Officers at Tenga, Sing Chung, Bhalukpong or Bomdila can also issue the same to the Indian Nationals.
Once you have the permit, you can buy a ticket to the sanctuary and easily enter its premises. The ticket is priced at ₹100 per day for Indians and ₹500 per day for foreign nationals.
Though there are no accommodation options within the sanctuary per se, there are some jungle camps that allow you stay in the park premises, namely the Bompu, Sessni and Lama Camps. The camps have been put up in the best bird-watching spots and are a treat for camping enthusiasts.
However, if you are travelling with family or are just not a fan of camping, you can put up in a hotel in Tawang and then drive down to the sanctuary which is about 20km away from the small hill town. Here are some of the best accommodation options in Tawang:
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