Menar Bird Village of Udaipur District: A hidden treasure of Rajasthan tourism

Menar Bird VillageJaipur 13 December 2023: Rajasthan boasts an incredibly diverse tourism landscape. Notably, wildlife tourism holds a significant place in the state’s offerings, particularly in bird tourism where Rajasthan stands unparalleled. The Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur stands proudly as one of the state’s foremost bird sanctuaries, recognized as one of the initial two Ramsar sites in Rajasthan.

Recently, Menar Bird Village, located forty kilometers from Udaipur district, has been making headlines. It’s poised to receive Ramsar site status and has been chosen by the Ministry of Tourism for the “Best Tourism Village Competition 2023,” after winning the Silver award in the “Travel for Life” category.

Menar village, nestled within Vallabh Nagar tehsil of Udaipur district, has earned its fame as the Bird Village, boasting a captivating habitat for over 250 migratory bird species.

In Menar, passionate bird lovers have taken extraordinary care of the ponds and have devoted them exclusively to their feathered friends. Recently in a crucial step, Bramha Pond and Dhand Pond were officially recognized as wetlands on July 19, 2023. The Forest Department has initiated proposals aiming to designate these sites as Ramsar sites.

Menar Village stands as an exceptional destination that encapsulates the valorous tales of Mewar, rich traditions, deep-rooted civilization, a vibrant tapestry of natural culture, and heritage, and a beautiful amalgamation of archaeological tourism and conservation. This unique blend offers an unparalleled experience that leaves an indelible mark on tourists, unmatched by any other place than Menar.

This village beautifully showcases the harmonious blend of community-driven conservation and forest preservation. Ornithologists note that the birds here exhibit an extraordinary comfort around humans, allowing for close and intimate encounters with these fascinating creatures.

Menar’s sanctuaries include a bird village, Brahma pond, and Dhandh pond, treasured by the villagers through their profound wisdom. The dedicated volunteers maintain a strict policy against photographing the flying birds to ensure their protection while offering accessible alternatives for those seeking bird photos.

These volunteers are also called Pakshi Mitra, for their dedication to fostering a bird-friendly environment. Their efforts have gained Menar village recognition on the global tourism stage. Ornithologists and volunteers highlight the area’s appeal to migratory birds, some of which have chosen to stay and adapt to the ecosystem, finding a new home in Menar.

The incident of 1832 shows the relationship between birds and their bird friends-

During the British occupation, an Englishman named John Telston arrived with his group on March 6, 1832. They must have been around fifty in number. When John observed that there were thousands of birds here, he shot one for breakfast. All of the birds got alert and hostile as soon as he shot. They made a peculiar shape in the sky, and when the villagers saw it, they went there and killed the British team. This action by residents of Mehnat village led the British authorities to withhold food and water in the region.

Menar’s Gunpowder Holi, where Diwali is celebrated on the day of Holi:

For 400 years, the people of Menar have been celebrating Gunpowder Holi on the second day of Holi, creating an illusion of Diwali coinciding with Holi. This tradition intertwines with the return of migratory birds to Menar. The village is home to the Menaria Brahmins, who supported Maharana of Mewar in defeating the Mughal military camp during the Mughal era. The celebration known as Jamarabeej in the local language marks this historic victory through the festivities of Gunpowder Holi.

Menar is a village of culinary experts or Maharajas: In every household in Menar village, there are skilled culinary artisans, traditionally referred to as Maharajs in ancient times, who are the precursors to today’s chefs. According to experts, Menaria Brahmins continue to hold the position of chief chef in the nation’s largest business establishments, including five- and seven-star hotels that are well-known for their Vaishnav cuisine. The kitchen in the home of actor Juhi Chawla, which also houses Ambani, Ambuja, and Hinduja Brothers, is managed by residents of Menar village.

Menar village holds significant archaeological importance with numerous Shiva temples situated along its pond banks. These temples and Shivlingas date back to six hundred years and are adorned with inscriptions in ancient scripts. Remarkably, these inscriptions not only grace the temple exteriors but also embellish the Shivlingas themselves. At the moment, the villagers are enthusiastic about partnering with linguists and archaeologists. They aim to decode these ancient scripts in the hope of uncovering profound insights into their village’s history.

No crackers, no fireworks on Diwali:

In Menar village, a unique tradition stands out on Diwali as there are no fireworks to protect the migratory birds that camp there during this time. The villagers also refrain from lighting fireworks due to the harvest season, aiming to prevent any accidental fires amidst the crop harvest.

Which migratory birds are found here – While Menar hosts over 250 migratory bird species from November to March, it’s particularly known for its diverse avian residents, including the Damascene Crane, Pelican, Osprey, Flamingo, Red Kirsted Pochard, Bar Headed Goose, and Greylag Goose.

Great Crested Greaves – In the local language it is called Shiva Dubdubi. This bird, which comes to Menar from the foothills of the Himalayas, has been here for the last ten years. This crested bird never comes out of the water, its nests float on water and it also reproduces in water. This bird makes his children ride in the water by making them sit on his back and feed them food. There are many species of birds found here that have decided not to leave Menar.