BHARATPUR BIRD SANCTUARY
(KEOLADEO NATIONAL PARK- UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
The Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, otherwise known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, is one of the world’s best known bird feeding and breeding grounds. The park is over 29 square kilometers and boasts of 364 species of birds, including some threatened migratory birds from Central Asia. It is a major tourist centre, with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the winter season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971 and is also a World Heritage Site.
The sanctuary was created 250 years ago, named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. Initially, it was a natural depression and was flooded after the Ajan Bund was constructed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur between 1726 to 1763. The bund was created at the confluence of two rivers, the Gambhir and Banganga. The park was a hunting ground for the maharajas of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organised yearly in honor of the British viceroys. In one shoot alone in 1938, over 4,273 birds such as mallards and teals were killed by Lord Linlithgow, the Governor-General of India. After India’s independence, the rulers of the princely states were allowed shooting rights until 1972. In 1982, grazing was banned in the park, leading to violent clashes between the local farmers, Gujjar communities and the government.
Flora and fauna
The sanctuary hosts a small wintering population of the rare Siberian Cranes. Other species seen here include ruddy shelducks, gulls, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Painted Cranes, kingfishers, northern shovelers, northern pintails, coots, garganey, tufted ducks and common pochard.
Best time to visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
While you can plan a trip anytime you want to, the best time to visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is:
- October – March for spotting migratory birds.
- August – November for watching resident birds
Opening timings: 6 am – 6 pm (summers) | 6:30 am – 5 pm (winters)
How to reach Bharatpur
The nearest airports are in Delhi, and Jaipur. Daily flights are available between Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Lucknow. The nearest railway station is Bharatpur Junction (5 km). Bharatpur is connected with other parts of the nation by very good roads. One can travel through own vehicle too. There are regular bus services from Delhi (184 km), Mathura (39 km), Jaipur (176 km), Alwar (117 km), Agra(56km) and adjoining areas. Many trains from New Delhi (New Delhi – Mumbai and Agra – Jaipur route) stop at Bharatpur. Bharatpur is easily reached by train or bus, although private taxis from New Delhi or Agra can be employed. The Park gate is close to the bus stand and railway station.
For students, it’s only 10 inr with id. For Indians, it’s 50 inr per person. 400 for foreigners.
An optional driver is Rs100 an hour, and an optional guide is Rs150 an hour. Another way to see the park is to hire a bike at your hotel or entrance (approx Rs40/day)
HOW TO SEE
Generally people prefer to take bicycle. But the bicycles are not in a good condition. Most of the people take ricksaw ride or tangaa ride, this makes the roads crowded which scares off the wildlife and people hardly watch anything.
Try roaming around on foot or take a rickshaw. It’s a small park. You could try the boat ride too. It costs around 200 inr per hour with the guide. He takes the boat inside the park into the marshy land and there, the scene is completely different as most the wildlife resides in those areas.
Before renting the binoculars:
Rates mentioned are 50 inr per trip i.e. for a day but they usually trick people as when you go to return the binocular, they ask for 50 inr per hour (so multiply accordingly). It’s better to make it clear before renting.