Originally called Keetham Lake, and then later, Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, this shallow water reservoir in Agra, Uttar Pradesh was developed by the British more than 100 years ago. It is the largest lake in Uttar Pradesh and acts as an emergency reservoir for the water needs of Agra during hot summers.
Named after the famous poet of Braj Bhasha Surdas, the entire area around Keetham Lake is of religious and cultural importance. This beautiful, tranquil place, teeming with flora and fauna, is around 20 kilometers away from the Agra city center and 12 kilometers from the town of Sikandra.
The Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is connected by railway at Keetham Railway Station and was declared as a national bird sanctuary on March 27, 1991 by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. Almost 100 species of migratory and local birds can be found here, including Siberian cranes, Brahminy ducks, and Spoonbills just to name a few. It is also home to 12 species of mammals, four species of amphibians, and 18 species of reptiles. It is an ideal spot for bird watching and the best time to visit this place is between September and March.
The Keetham Lake inspired the famous poet Soordas to write the ‘Bhakti Kavya’, one of the best pieces of devotional poetry ever written. Initially covering an area of 4.03 square kilometers, it has expanded to an area of about 7.83 square kilometers. Its depth varies from five to eight meters, which has been identified by the National Wetland Commission. Dotted with small, artificially made islands and ravines, the surrounding area forms the habitat of Yamuna.
The lake is pentagonal in shape. The artificially created islands are developed to provide shelter and breeding grounds for travelling birds. The best part about Keetham is that tourists from Delhi can visit this place when on their journey to Agra.
At Sur Sarovar, shovellers and gadwalls are common, as well as coots, garganey teals, common teals, wigeons, tuffed poachards, dubchicks, and Sarus cranes. The red-billed purple moorhen prunes the rich vegetation of the lake. Trees such as Acacia, Kadam, Sheesham, Prospopis, and Cassia grow abundantly. Shags, darters, and little cormorants are also commonly seen perching the trees. In addition, this is the best place to watch for the kingfisher and rosy pelican, both of which are a fabulous sight.
The freshwater in Keetham Lake originates from Agra Canal, which comes from the Okhla barrage on Yamuna River in Delhi. The water from Agra Canal is diverted to Jodhpur branch close to Anand Engineering College, situated 2 kilometers from Keetham. The lake water is also used for freshwater intake at the Mathura Refinery Water Treatment Plant.
It is easy to go to the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary or Keetham Lake. Sikandra Town is only 12 kilometers away from Agra. You can take the bus at Idgah Bus Station in Agra to reach this place. In addition, Agra has road and rail connections. You may also hire a taxi or take auto-rickshaws to reach Sikandra.