One of the finest bird parks in the world, Bharatpur Bird
Sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park) is a reserve that
offers protection to faunal species as well. Nesting indigenous
water- birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside
birds, this sanctuary is also inhabited by Sambar, Chital,
Nilgai and Boar.
Flora in Bharatpur
More than 300 species of birds are found in this small wildlife
park of 29-sq-kms of which 11-sq-kms are marshes and the rest
scrubland and grassland. Keoladeo, the name derives from an
ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the
centre of the park. 'Ghana' means dense, referring to the thick
forest, which used to cover the area.
A Man Made Natural World
While many of India's parks have been developed from the hunting
preserves of princely India, Keoladeo, popularly known as
Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary, is perhaps the only case where the
habitat has been created by a maharaja. In earlier times,
Bharatpur town used to be flooded regularly every monsoon. In
1760, an earthen dam (Ajan Dam) was constructed, to save the
town, from this annual vagary of nature. The depression created
by extraction of soil for the dam was cleared and this became
the Bharatpur Lake.
At the beginning of this century, this lake was developed, and
was divided into several portions. A system of small dams,
dykes, sluice gates, etc., was created to control water level in
different sections. This became the hunting preserve of the
Bharatpur royalty, and one of the best duck - shooting wetlands
in the world. Hunting was prohibited by mid-60s. The area was
declared a national park on 10 March 1982, and accepted as a
World Heritage Site in December 1985.
Major Wildlife Attractions
The major attractions of tourists visiting the park are the
numerous migratory birds, who come from as far away as Siberia
and Central Asia and spend their winters in Bharatpur, before
returning to their breeding grounds. Migratory birds at
Bharatpur bird sanctuary include, several species of Cranes,
Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Wagtails,
Warblers, Wheatears, Flycatchers, Buntings, Larks and Pipits,
Other Travel Attractions
Bharatpur Govenment Museum : One of the major attention grabber
after the Bharatpur sanctuary is Government Museum of Bharatpur,
which provides a glimpse of the past royal splendour of
Bharatpur Palace : Not far from the museum is the Bharatpur
Palace, an marvellous structural blend of Mughal and Rajput
Lohagarh Fort : The invincible Lohagarh Fort, which remained
unconquered despite several attacks by the British regime.
Deeg Palace : Situated just 32-kms away from Bharatpur is
the Deeg Palace. A strong and massive fortress, Deeg Palace was
the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and houses numerous
beautiful palaces and gardens.
Best Time to Visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary is open throughout the year, still
the ideal visiting months are from August-November for resident
breeding birds and October- February for migrant birds.
Trips within Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary
There are well-defined forest trails, which can easily be
covered on foot or on a cycle or you can also hire a rickshaw
that are available on hire. Rickshaw pullers have been trained
by the park management in bird watching and are quite
knowledgeable. Boats are also available on hire. A early morning
boat trip or a late evening one is quite a rewarding experience
to check out the hidden surprises of Bharatpur.
How to Get there
Air : The nearest airport is situated at Agra, which is
56-kms from Bharatpur.
Rail : Regular rail services connect Bharatpur with all the
major cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Agra.
The Bharatpur railway station is 6-kms from the park
Road : An excellent network of roadway services connects
Bharatpur to all the major cities of the Rajasthan and its
neighbouring states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana.
Bharatpur is well connected by road from Agra (56-kms, 5 hours),
Delhi (176-kms, 5 hours) and Jaipur (176-kms, 6 hours), all of
which have airport facilities too.