Nal Sarovar is a Bird Sanctuary, spread in the area of 120.82-sq-km Lake, a serene marshland with shallow waters (4-5 ft) which contains 36 small islands. Nalsarovar-Ahmedabad distance is about 60 km located near Sanand Village, in Gujarat. Mainly inhabited by migratory birds as their wintering ground, Nalsarovar wetland is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India. Nalsarovar is a Bird Sanctuary since April 1969 and Nalsarovar is a Ramsar site since 24 September 2012.
The Nal Sarovar Lake is in a lowest-lying area between the Central Gujarat and East Saurashtra. It represents a sea link that once existed between the Little Rann and the Gulf of Khambat.
More than 200 types of birds mainly waterfowl inhabit this lake and come from as far as Siberia. Nalsarovar in Gujarat is a bird watcher’s paradise, one can find rosy pelicans, lesser and greater flamingos, crakes, brahminy ducks, purple moorhen, herons, white storks, various species of bitterns, grebes etc in the lake. Best time to visit Nalsarovar is in winter between November to February. However, migratory birds starts arriving in October and stay until April but their population reaches its peak in mid winter. Best time to see the birds is early in the morning and in the evening. The locals have maintained strict cleanliness policy and one can find the water so clean that u can clearly see the sheval plants grown inside the lake. Sheval plant is food to the birds as well as the fish inside the lake.
One can visit Nalsarovar in Sanand by personal vehicle or taxi. Gujarat Tourism also offers luxury tent accommodations 1.5km from the lake, other than few more resorts there is no proper accommodation available. It is advisable to stay in Ahmedabad city for better accommodation. Nalsarovar bird sanctuary timings are 6 am to 6 pm but the ticket window closes at 5:30pm. Private vehicles are not allowed past the ticket window area but Vehicles are available from parking to the lake site, which is approx 1 km. Nalsarovar entry fee is Rs. 75/- per visitor on weekdays and Rs. 85 on weekends and Rs. 200/- for camera(mobile cameras ). Nalsarovar Entry fee also includes vehicle charge to the boating area. Nalsarovar Boating charges are Rs. 220/- per person and Rs. 1320/- if you want an individual boat. In bird watching season government announce Nalsarovar Package, which includes everything such as entry, boating and stay. Guide charges are Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 but there is no need to hire a guide, as every boatman is a guide himself, pay him the same amount and he will be glad to show you around the lake.
Boat ride includes journey from start point to Dhrabla Island (BET as called by locals) and return. On island, one can enjoy view of the lake from the watchtower. There are small huts where kathiyawadi thali (consist of three sabzi, Bajra roti, jaggery, makkhan & chatni) is served by local vendors. All the vendors sell similar food at same rate i.e. Rs. 150/thali, in rush hours to manage crowd, your boatman will take you to a specific hut assigned to him. The local vendors are very humble and good at hospitality. If you are a regular visitor you can request the menu of your own wish on prior notification of your arrival to the vendor.
There are ‘pilu trees’ on the island, which bears small red berry type fruit; you can enjoy that free. The journey will take around 2-3 hours so visit washroom before the journey starts, as there is no washroom/toilet available on the island. However, for boating farther in to the lake one needs to negotiate with the local boatmen, who will charge you more. You can buy gathiya (Guajarati snack) to feed the birds, vendors sell gathiya at Rs.10 to Rs.60. You can take snacks and refreshment along with you on the boat ride, but don’t throw rubbish in the lake. It is advisable to go in groups of 6 to 7, to occupy an entire boat. If you are in-group i.e. less than 6, for example, you went in a group of three people. Pay for only three people and in return, you can bargain with the boatman to take only three of you on the remaining boat ride. The best time to reach there is just before sunrise as the lake is calm and quiet and flocks of birds having their food. There is no 3G/4G coverage in Nalsarovar, you will get 2G/Edge with poor connectivity so be aware.
Visitors can take a horse ride at lakeside Nalsarovar national park, horse riding charges start from Rs. 50. There is also an information centre in the sanctuary which gives details of migratory birds and Nal Sarovar itself, can also be given a visit. One can get to know a lot about migratory birds and the sanctuary by visiting the information centre. You can visit here for your One-Day-Picnic; it has huge fields where you can enjoy playing cricket or volleyball. You can also set up a live barbeque on the banks of the lakes. On your return journey towards parking you need to pay Rs. 8 to 10 to the driver.
Tip: Although there are binocular slots at few places, but to enjoy the view while boating and at the watchtower, a pair of Binoculars and Camera is must have accessory while visiting Nalsarovar.