Located just southeast of the city of Dehradun, Lachhiwala is good for a morning visit. This Forest Department maintains a picnic spot is located along the banks of the Song River and the road itself passes through some good primary Sal (Shorea robusta) forest. The so-called forest-edge vegetation itself is excellent for birding.
To get to Lachhiwala, one follows Haridwar Road (NH-72) upto the railway overbridge and Flyover. Also, all public buses on scheduled routes between Dehradun and points east pass this spot. The entrance to Lachhiwala is just to the left of this flyover. At the gate, the ticket counter will issue a vehicle permit for a small fee. Or, one could simply walk in. But, before entering, it is good to consult the guards as this area is sometimes visited by wild elephants. The guards will know whether or not it is safe to walk around.
The Sal forest, as with other sites in the valley is an excellent place to catch woodpecker species, including the elusive Rufous-bellied Woodpecker. In addition, one may see Eurasian Treecreeper, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Bar-tailed Flycatcher Shrike, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch. The understorey here may yield Puff-throated Babbler, Indian Pitta and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush.
The road exits the Sal forest after 1.5kms, crossing a tributary of the Song via a rickety bridge. Under this bridge, one may see Plumbeous Redstart, White-capped Water Redstart and if lucky, Brown Dipper. The road next follows the river with typical riverine vegetation of Khair (Acacia catechu), Semal (Bombax ceiba) and Kanju (Holoptelia integrifolia). The undergrowth is inevitably Lantana. This stretch of open forest is good for Grey Bushchat, Red Avadavat, Scaly-breasted Munia, Indian Silverbill and various species of warbler. Look out for White-tailed Ruby-throat Blue-throat and Rufous-bellied Niltava.
The picnic spot usually starts getting crowded after about 8AM in summer or roughly 10AM in the winter. To avoid these noisy crowds, birders will want to leave the area about then. The picnic spot has a small snack-bar and tea shop. For those inclined to get a head-start on birding in the very early morning without having to drive in from Dehradun or elsewhere, there is a passable (and affordable) Forest Rest House (FRH) nearby, bookable via the DFO Dehradun. This rest house may also be used as a base for a daytime visit to Thano RF, such that one returns at dusk, if one does not have a booking at Thano FRH itself.
And for those wanting to break in a new jeep or SUV on tough roads, an alternate route back to Dehradun is via Jharond, Bulandawala and Mothrowala villages. But in the summer or monsson this may be an endurance course with bursts of ornithological fulfillment! With the route sandwiched between Lachhiwala RF and Rajaji-West, one may see raptors, grassland birds and woodpeckers.. If lucky, pairs of hornbills may be seen in flight, passing between one feeding area and another.