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  • Writer's pictureManasa Mynampati

Kolleru Lake Bird Sanctuary

Updated: Jan 30

I went to my parents' place with my little one as I badly needed a Holiday. After a long wait of 3 years, I could altogether leave my kid with someone I could trust (of course it's my mom!) and spend some me-time, at least a day, without thinking of chores. This may sound mean, but for a corporate girl like me who has been busy her entire life from the age of 3 till I became a mother (to note, that's where my world suddenly stopped spinning without any notice), me-time is everything. Okay! That's not the context of my present article... Let's move on! My bestie came all the way from Hyderabad to visit us, and I wanted to get the best out of that trip. We decided to go to a nearby place so we could return at night. Being a nature lover, I picked Kolleru Lake, where many birds come from different places between October and February.

The Kolleru Bird Sanctuary is easy to reach from Eluru and is located between the deltas of Krishna and Godavari. It's just a 50 km drive from Bhimavaram, but it will take more than 2.5 hrs on the mud road. While we were on the way, there was a moment when I thought we might have to leave the car and ask for a lift back home since the car repeatedly hit the broken road and made loud noises. But our driver, Nagendra, was an expert and made our trip safe and memorable.

Kolleru Lake used to be the second freshwater lake in Asia, but now I don't think that's the case. Half of the lake is illegally occupied by the locals for fisheries. The best time to visit the lake is early morning or sunset when the birds stay in their nests. We chose the sunset time. We started at home by 3 pm when 2 best friends met, the entire world will, and on the way, we picked some fresh Indian sweets like rasagulla, milk laddu, paneer jalebi and Indian rice crackers (Pappu chekkalu). By the time we left the city traffic, it was 4 pm. It just so happens that, when 2 best friends meet, the entire world would become the stage for gossip. We recollected our college memories and wondered if we could just stay there rather than handle family responsibilities (I think it's the same with everyone irrespective of country and region) and then we were suddenly surrounded by green fields with coconut and palm trees as their boundaries.

Birds of different colours, some white and some black (Asian openbills), some with a combination of red and black greeted us on our way. We spotted Painted storks which had scarlet tints on their beak and wings. Many marbled teal birds and spot-billed pelicans were resting on the trees in groups. Few were on their own, hunting fishes, and when we tried to reach out to them, the entire flock took flight. It was a beautiful moment. We took many breaks while going as we couldn't stop admiring them. More than me, our driver was so excited as he had never gotten a chance to explore this area. The sun started to set but we were half an hour from our final destination. Finally, we made it to the sanctuary and guess what, it was closed! 🥺🥺

At least that was what we thought at first glance when we saw the entrance gate padlocked and thorn-fenced. When I saw another car parked near the mud road, I guessed there must be someone inside the bird sanctuary as the area is an isolated countryside, and no one would park their car for any other business. We stood there for a few minutes, unable to decide what to do until we saw a native walking toward us from inside the gate. He jumped the thorny fencing and walked away. In any case, we wouldn't want our long muddy journey to go in vain, so we straddled through the fence and walked into a narrow mud road behind the gate for about a km, and then we realised that the long wait was worth it.

It was so beautiful with the sun just setting behind the lake, birds talking among themselves about their day, young ones in their nests crying with excitement for their fresh dinner, and a slow breeze causing ripples in the lake to reflect our flow of thoughts. A three-storied watchtower and a few park benches were an addition to the mesmerising view. These kinds of charming places are best to be watched alone or with our partners or with our soul friends who can understand that there are things beyond our reach yet we have the luxury to enjoy them. like cool sun rays in summer, warm evening breeze touching our faces and ushering unknown secrets!

There is a small open boat chained; people can go on a ride to get a closer look at nests, but none were there to take us. I realised why the gate was closed at the entrance. The habitat must not be disturbed because of traffic and noise. We took a few pictures there until it was dark and by the time we returned home, it was around 9.30 PM. Worth a visit, but let me warn you, the road is not good!

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