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Maharana Pratap Sagar

NestledMaharana Pratap Sagar was formerly known as the Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam, the highest earthfill dam with an installed capacity of 390 megawatts with six generating units on the Beas River in the Kangra district of the state of Himachal Pradesh was completed in 1976 Named in order to pay homage to the great patriot Maharana Pratap, Rajasthan (1572-97 AD) and the dam is situated at an altitude of 450 metres above sea level. Its reservoir covers an area of about 24,500 hectares and the wetlands portion is 15,662 hectares .Over 200 villages lie along the wetland. This is 55 km. from Dharamshala and the shimmering waters of the reservoir are visible from Kotwali Bazar & McLeodganj.

This lake sanctuary is a big attraction for migratory ducks from Siberian region during winter. One can see thousands of ducks in the swamp area between Shahnahar barrage and Pongdam and the surrounding shallow waters of the lake. Clean blue water all around with the panoramic view of Dhauladhar Ranges and Kangra Valley make the visit to Ransar Island an unforgettable experience. Black buck and Cheetal on the island along with Surkhab, Cranes, Pintails and variety of water birds welcome the visitors on the Island.

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       History :The Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary has been named after patriot Maharana Pratap. Originally, a dam was built in 1975. Later in 1983, it was acknowledged as a nature reserve. Visitors to this sanctuary can find a wide range of flora and fauna and also different species of migratory and native birds. The lake spreads over 2 km and has abundant water. To get some amazing views of nature, the Maharana Pratap Sagar or Pong Lake is one of the best places to spend some quality time.

       Geography :The sanctuary spreads over a total area of 42 Km. The Maharana Pratap Sagar in this nature reserve is a major attraction. It spreads over an area of 24,529 hectares and its surrounding wetlands occupy an area of 15,662 hectares. This lake is an inviting ground for various species of migratory birds.

       Flora at Kanwar Sanctuary:The wetland around Pong Lake is surrounded by perennial and deciduous pine forests. Some of its trees include Acacia, Amla, Ficus, Jamun, Shisham, Kachanar, Mulberry, Mango and Prunus. Different varieties of shrubs and grasses can also be seen around.

       Fauna At kanwar Sanctuary :Migratory birds are a prime attraction for those visiting the area. These birds visit the sanctuary during winter. As many as 200 species of migratory birds visit the Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary. The popular avifauna includes bar-headed geese, northern lapwings, red-necked Grebe ruddy shelduck, Northern pintail, common teal, spot-billed Duck, Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, Black-headed gulls, black stork, plovers, terns, egrets, etc.

       Trekking :There are various trekking trails around the Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary. These trails vary in their degree of difficulty because of varied terrain. The sanctuary also offers visitors with exciting opportunities of water sports. The Pong Lake is good for swimming, rowing, water skiing, sailing and canoeing. Tourists can also try their hand at angling as it also has a good population of fish.

How To Get There

The Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary can be accessed easily.

Air: The closest airport is Gaggal Airport at an approximate distance of 40 Km.

Rail : The closest railway station is at Mukerian, about 30Km and Pathankot, about 32Km from the sanctuary.

Road : The nature reserve is about 55Km from Dharamshala and is easily connected by good roads. There are regular buses that ply from different towns of the state as well.

Where To Stay

Accommodation can easily be found in the area. There are several private and government-run guest-houses available, in and around the sanctuary. Best places close to the park include Kasol, Manikaran and Kullu. Kullu (42 Kms) has excellent accommodation options.

Best Time To Visit

Summer :

The weather during summer months is pleasant and mild. It is the best time to visit.

Monsoon :

Monsoon season can be harsh, as the area receives a lot of rainfall.

Winter :

Winters are very cold and the area witnesses heavy snowfall. Temperatures can drop to freezing point and exploring the area can become challenging.