For a passionate birdwatcher, there's no better time than now to go searching for the beautiful avian species that the Indian skies welcome. If you count yourself as one and are ready with your gear packed, you must give this offbeat destination near Udaipur named Menar Bird Village a try.
While Rajasthan is home to many prolific birding destinations, such as the Keoladeo National Park, this quaint village is having its moment under the spotlight as it has been chosen by the Ministry of Tourism for "Best Tourism Village Competition 2023" after winning the silver award in the "Travel for Life" category. Moreover, it is also set to attain the Ramsar site status.
With 250 types of birds, of which 100 are migratory, the Menar Bird Village promises enthusiasts many opportunities for a unique sighting. During the migratory season, starting from October till April, you can spot species like the greater flamingo, white-tailed lapwing, and marsh harrier, among several others, flailing over the Brahma and Dhand ponds. As of July 19 this year, these two ponds were also officially recognised as wetlands. More interestingly, this under-explored but thriving birding spot was also where the rare migratory red-necked grebe was spotted for the first time in Rajasthan after 28 years in 2022.
Another interesting find that one must keep their eyes peeled for is the great crested greaves, known as "Shiva Dubdubi" in the local language. This bird, from the Himalayan foothills, has been in Menar for the last ten years and is known to never come out of the water.
While the number of species that soar over this village during the migratory season is a testament to the region's flourishing ecosystem, credit goes to the volunteers, also called "Pakshi Mitras." The volunteers, recruited from the village itself, have been trained to record the native and exotic bird species to help conserve the population and guide the visitors around the area. It is also essential to note that one of their conservation efforts also bars the photography of birds. However, the volunteers help arrange other alternatives if you wish to carry the snapshots of these exotic birds back home.
The village is not only a birdwatcher's paradise but also welcomes tourists who want to explore the vibrant history of the Mewar region. Alongside spotting avian wonders, you can explore the 600-year-old Nagara-style temples dedicated to Shiva flanking the ponds. These temples feature intricate inscriptions from ancient scripts not only on their facade but also on the shivalingas housed inside the sanctum.
While Menar is explored best during the migratory season, it is worth visiting in July and September, when the 40-day Gavari festival begins. This festival, celebrated by the Bhil tribe of the Mewar region, colours the villages in festive fervour as people come together to perform a mystical dance and music drama to invoke the goddess Gauri, also known as Gavari and Ambavi Mata.
Since Menar is only a short drive away from Udaipur and is fit for a day trip, it is best to book a stay in the city itself. From hostels to heritage stays, there are hundreds of options to choose from based on your price range and preferences.
However, if you want to skip the city bustle and prefer an accommodation that falls between Udaipur and Menar, choose The Fern Bambora Fort (23.9 km away from Menar) or Chunda Shikar Oudi (14.7 km away from Menar). The former is a 17th-century fort converted into a heritage stay, while the latter is a luxurious countryside retreat located amidst 150 hectares of forest.
Menar is located approximately a 50-minute drive away from Udaipur. Therefore, the best option would be to either fly to the Udaipur Airport or board a train to the Udaipur Railway Station. If you want to travel by road, Udaipur is well-connected to cities like Delhi (11 hours away) and Jaipur (6 hours away).