Delhi’s big, it’s bustling and its bursting with people. But within its boundaries there are some special green spaces if you know where to look. Getting away from the masses and enjoying nature’s rich bounty is a magical experience. Today’s post takes you from the heart of the city to the home of the Conservation Education Centre in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.
A 30 minute early morning drive from central Delhi takes you away from the city to a place where forests and open scrub land replace buildings and tarmac.
On the fringes of the massive Tughlakabad Fort, South Delhi, the 21 square kilometres of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is home to over 200 species of birds, 10 species of mammals, 10 species of reptiles, eight amphibians and over 90 species of butterfly.
The sanctuary is also home to the Conversation Education Centre, a urban wildlife site managed by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Since 1883 this membership driven organisation has been promoting the wonders of natural world, educating cities dwellers about the environment and striving to protect what’s naturally beautiful.
The team in Delhi is doing a tremendous job. Last weekend, I was up bright and early to take advantage of one of the CEC led walks. Taking place twice a month, the Centre’s naturalists take visitors around the sanctuary and show of its natural beauty.
There’s six guided nature trails and bespoke walks that look at plants, trees, birds, mammals and butterfly life. The team also offer the public the chance to learn new skills with lectures, workshops and talks, on a range of different topics. There’s also a volunteer programme if you fancy getting stuck in and helping out.
I’d come along for the 7am butterfly walk. Was I successful?
Well, I spotted 18 different varieties of butterfly, including the beautiful bright orange Common Leopard, and the Black and white male Danaid Eggfly and its more colourful mate. I also saw the tiny Grass Jewel, one of India’s smallest butterflies with a wingspan of just 15 – 22mm. I count that as success.
Fluttering around in the cool morning breeze, I managed to capture a couple of butterfly shots. But most were too fast for me and flew off before I had chance to focus in.
The walk wasn’t only about butterflies though. The calls of peacocks and pen hens accompanied us and some stunning birds flew in to see what we were up to. A pair ofbeautiful Grey Hornbills and long-tailed shrike were the pick of the bunch.
Add in blue skies, green space and fresh clean air, and I left the Aravalli Range a very happy man. My fellow butterfly spotters were seemed pretty happy too.
Butterfly walk costs 350 INR and comes with an early morning chai and a brilliant Butterflies of Delhi pamphlet.
Find out more about the Conversation Education Centre
Twice a month there’s an early morning guided walk with a CEC naturalist. There’s also other events and activities throughout the year. Conservation Education Centre website and Facebook page list attractions and what’s happening, when and how to book.
CEC education officers can be contacted on 011-26042010, 918800748967 or 08800741864. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm. Walks, talks and others events are run at weekend. Check on the programme on CEC Facebook page. The centre is closed on CEC on major public holidays.