Just a 20 minute drive from the center of Kolkata lies a 13,75,000 square feet lake,
known as the Santragachi Jheel. Winter months (October to March) draw 4000 to 5000
ducks and moorhens to this safe haven. What is really the key feature of Santragachi
is the protection that these birds receive at this small lake. Unless you visit
Santragachi and see the unconcerned way in which the normally wary birds move about,
you can never appreciate the miracle of Santragachi. And the credit goes to the
Indian Railways who own and maintain the lake ( Water Hyacinths are a major problem)
and more particularly to the local residents who take pride in protecting the birds.
Santragachi is not beautiful. It is hemmed in by habitation and railway tracks.
Water hyacinth dominates the surface and there is very little green cover. But the
birds more than make up in their variety, numbers and in the unconcerned way they
make Santragachi a home. Lesser Whistling-Ducks dominate this lake, as they do in
most parts of the east. But by no means is Santragachi a one duck pond.