If you’re an avid bird-watcher, Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, located off Narendrapur  Ramkrishna Mission is a must-visit. It’s a protected area, very close to the city of Kolkata and famed for its wide variety of birds, butterflies, ferns and orchids.

Locally also known as ‘Kayaler Bagan’, the 17 acre park was originally declared a sanctuary in 1982 but could only be converted into one much later in 2005 after the Government of West Bengal acquired the land for it.

Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary is the result of the people initiating wildlife conservation with the help of the government. Named after the noted sculptor, Chintamoni Kar, the highlight of the wildlife sanctuary are its variety of orchards including mango, tamarind, jackfruit, guava, and coconut trees.

Chintamani Kar, along with local people and NGOs, fought for decades to obtain wildlife sanctuary status for the park. What used to be an old abandoned orchard surrounded by bamboo brakes, waterbodies and wasteland, slowly saw the light of day as a park that supported as many as 150 varieties of birds, with the collective help of the commoners who supported its existence.

As of today, the most commonly spotted birds here include black-naped monarch, Asian paradise flycatcher, emerald dove, streak-throated woodpecker, orange-headed thrush, white-throated fantail, common hawk-cuckoo, orange-breasted green pigeon, crested serpent eagle, large-tailed nightjar, ashy wood-swallow, lineated barbet and greater flameback.

Among the rare varieties are the Tickell’s thrush, greater racket-tailed drongo, slaty-legged crake, grey-headed fish eagle, Eurasian woodcock, scarlet-backed flowerpecker, scaly thrush, eyebrowed thrush, little spiderhunter, blue-throated flycatcher and large-billed reed warbler.

Additionally, the sanctuary also hosts some small wildlife including the jungle cat, civet cat, lizards, jackal, three-striped palm squirrel, buff-stripped keelback, vine snake and water monitor lizard.

It takes about an hour to reach Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary from the centre of Kolkata. It’s about 15km from Sealdah.