Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur is one of the most important
breeding and feeding grounds for migratory birds in the world. More than
30 sq.km of shallow lakes and scrubby woodland harbour over 350 bird species
from as far away as Europe and Siberia. It is possible to see 150 species
in a day and as many as 10 species nesting in a single tree. The main migratory
season is from mid October to mid February, but many residents nest and
breed in the sanctuary during the hotter months and monsoon.
Bharatpur was given National Park status in 1982 to control visitors, and offer protection from illegal grazing. The sanctuary was declared a World Heritage Site in 1985 and is widely held to be the best birding site in India.
One of the most visually exciting sights is the Keoladeo Heronry with six different species of herons and egrets. Nesting alongside are Painted Storks, Ibises, Spoonbills, Jacanas and Cormorants, together with terrestrials including a variety of Babblers, Warblers and Bee-Eaters. The most important visitors are the Siberian Cranes, but since they raise only one chick their numbers are dwindling, just one or two pairs have visited in recent years.
The park is refreshingly free of any motor vehicles. Walking and cycling along raised embankments offers a unique opportunity to get closer to the rich birdlife. Many people choose a cycle rickshaw, which has the added advantage of providing a local bird expert. Boats are also available, depending on water levels. The park lies between Delhi and Ranthambhore and is only 50km from Agra, the ancient Moghul city of Fatehpur Sikri is also nearby. The Bund Bhareta Reservoir and National Chambal Sanctuary offer further wildlife opportunities for those with an additional day to spend in the area.
Best Time To Visit
The park is open throughout the year although most visitors choose to come between October and February, when wintering wildfowl assemble in thousands on the lakes. The breeding season is between August and October.
The park supports a population of 375 species of birds, numerous mammals and reptiles. With the onset of winter, migratory birds from all over world come here. They arrive by August and leave in February. Visitors include Coot Snipes, Spanish Sparrow, Red Crested Porhard, Rosy Pelican and Flamingo. The special attraction, however, remains the arrival of the rare Siberian Crane. The park is also rich in Pythons, Spotted Deer, Sambhars, Blue Bull, Black Buck, Jackals, Otters, Fishing Cats, Monitor Lizards.
Nearby places of interest are the Government Museum, Bharatpur which gives a glimpse of past splendour. Not far from the museum is the Bharatpur Palace which is an excellent blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture. There is the Lohagarh Fort which remained invincible despite several attacks by the British. Just 32 km from Bharatpur, is the Deeg Palace. This strong and massive fort was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and has many palaces and gardens.
How to reach
56-kms from Bharatpur is the nearest airport situated at Agra.
The Bharatpur railway station is 6-kms from the park and regular rail services connect Bharatpur with all the major cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Agra.
A fine network of roadway services links 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.