Feathers all the way
NE Rajasthan, West India
Go there for :
45°-37°C (Sum); 31°-7°C (Win)
Best Sightings :
Park Closed :
Open round the year
STD Code :
+91 - 7653
A mere 55 km from the Taj Mahal is Keoladeo Ghana National Park in
Bharatpur, named after the Lord Shiva temple right in the middle of the
park. About one-third of the landscape is etched with tracts of wetlands,
and with the wooded scrubland around, it forms an ideal wintering sanctuary
for the migratory birds from the Arctic and Central Asia. The park first
shot itself to fame when the nearly extinct Siberean cranes from the Arctic
earmarked it their winter retreat and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage
The 400 odd species of migratory and domestic birds (as many as found there
in entire UK) make this tiny sanctuary an ornithologist's dream-come-true,
just anytime of the year. An inscription on a pillar near the Keoladeo
Temple reads how Lord Linlithgow, then Viceroy of India, massacred 4,273
birds in one day - a merciless tragedy - that can also be interpreted as a
hint at its avian abundance.
Widlife Attractions :
Exotic migratory birds from
Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet, Siberian cranes from the Arctic, prey-leg
geese from Siberia and bar-headed geese from China come here during the
monsoon and breed till October/November. Sadly enough, due to hunting and
consecutive years of drought in Bharatpur, the Siberian Cranes that travel
up to 6,500 km, all the way from the Ob River basin region in the Aral
Mountains in Siberia, have not been sighted since 2002. But who knows they
might be just back this year and you might be the lucky one to spot these
red-billed white cranes pecking one another noisily.
This avian kingdom also hosts mammals like nilgai, spotted deer, sambhar,
chital, black bucks, jungle cat and the wild boar. The large rock python,
which is spotted basking under the sun in winters at Python Point beyond
Keoladeo temple, as well as its nemesis - the mongoose, are found in
appreciable numbers. However, spotting a duel between the two is purely a
matter of luck.
A stroll around the well-defined forest trails with more than 44,000 trees,
has most chances of spotting colonies of cormorants, spoon bills, storks,
egrets, herons, pelicans, ebis and grey herons all over the park. The raised
paths camouflaged by Babul trees make their viewing easier.
Lohagarh Fort :
This 18th century massive iron structure fort was
conceived and designed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the founder of Bharatpur. The
fort has three palaces within its precincts - Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and
Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj :
A few of the eight imposing towers
still stand erect within the glorious ramparts of the fort. Especially two
of them - Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj are of special interest. These were
built by Maharaja Suraj Mal to commemorate his victories over the Mughals
and British respectively.
Bharatpur Palace with the Museum :
This royal edifice is a fusion of
the Mughal and Rajput architectural styles housing a rich repository of a
large number of ancient exhibits that date back to the early 15th century.
Take an early dawn elephant back safari with an authorized mahout
guide. Jeep rides can be arranged at the Tourist Center. Walking and
cycling, however, are the best ways to explore the park. A walk of around 2
km from the main gate will take you to the core area where two roads branch
off in different directions - both ideal for bird watching. Rickshaws, with
trained pullers cum guides can be hired for Rs. 50 per hour. A cycle can be
hired for Rs 25 per day. The rickshaw puller's displaying a yellow plate
means they double up as guides, also carrying binoculars. Perhaps, no other
National Park promises so much accessibility and fun of exploring on your
own. A boat ride along the shallow freshwater lakes, that comprise a third
of the Park's total area, can be most rewarding of all touring experiences.
Another, very promising dekko at the parks avian world can be had if you opt
for a boat trip in the lake where most animals and birds come to quench
their thirst. (Boat ride charges : Rs. 100 per person/ hour)
The park remains open from sunrise to sunset around
Entry fee for foreign tourists is Rs. 200 while Rs. 25 is
fixed for Indian residents. Guide fee Rs. 75/hour, Video Camera Rs. 200 3
hours is a standard time you would need to cover the entire sanctuary.
Field guides and park maps are sold at the Tourist Reception
Center (the place where you show your park entry tickets).
Try the route to Sopan Mori and turn right from there towards
the Keoladeo Temple (turning left will take you to the sunning ground of
(32 km): A strong and massive fortress, Deeg
Palace was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and houses numerous
beautiful palaces and gardens.
Hop next to: Khajuraho
Ujjain, Kanha National Park