Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary has one of the most prolific avian populations in the country. Two-thirds of the Park remains under water and the remaining one-third is covered in dry deciduous forests and extensive grasslands.
Bharatpur can be called the kingdom of Avian fauna in India with more than 400 bird species already spotted. If your luck permits it is not too tough to spot 50 to 100 species in a day. Travellers during the winter season can expect a sudden (though most unlikely as the last sighting was in the year 2002) encounter with the elusive Siberian Crane wintering here. The fact remains that Bharatpur is one of the only two known wintering haunts of Siberian Crane.
Flora and Fauna: 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.
One of the finest bird parks in the world, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana Natiuonal 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.
Major Wildlife Attractions: Over 350 species of birds find a refuge in the 29 sq-km of shallow lakes and woodland, which make up the park. A third of them are migrants, many of whom spend their winters in Bharatpur, before returning to their breeding grounds, as far away as Siberia and Central Asia. Migratory birds at Keoladeo include, as large a bird as Dalmatian pelican, which is slightly less than two meters, and as small a bird as Siberian disky leaf warbler, which is the size of a finger. Other migrants include several species of cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks and pipits, etc.
Attracted by the influx of the water fowl, the predatory birds – tawny eagles, spotted eagles short-toed eagles, imperial eagles and fishing eagle also arrive. Common Kingfisher, Colourful Kingfishers, graceful pelicans, rare Siberian cranes and trans-continental fliers like the migratory water-fowl are amongst the 400 species of birds found in the Keoladeo National Park. The most spectacular nests are those of the egrets, storks, herons and cormorants which make over 10,000 nests every year. They all form the apex of the biological pyramid of the sanctuary and complete the avian food chain of the ecosystem. There are large herds of the nilgai, chital, wild boar and fear cows in addition to a few herds of sambar. Some of the unique attractions of the park include….
Siberian Cranes are a highly specialised member of the crane family in terms of habitat, morphology and behaviour. Being omnivorous they eat a wide variety of food items including cranberries, rodents, fish and insects. The threat to the wintering habitats of these species caused due to the growing human population has put a serious questionmark on the existense of these rare birds in India.
The story of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is incomplete without an account of the migratory waterfowl. The most prominent water fowl coming to this park are bareheaded and greylag geese. Ducks also create a lot of fluttering in the lakes. The ducks usually found here are pintail, widgeon, common shelduck, shoveler, garganey, teal, mallard pochard etc.
White Breasted Kingfisher:
The beautiful amalgam of colors as if painted extremely carefully by nature with a brilliant turquoise blue body, a chocolate brown head and neck, a long red pecker and a white front are sure to draw curious glances from on lookers. The main delicacies on its menu include fish, tadpoles, grasshoppers, lizards and other small insects.
Other Attractions: Take an early dawn elephant back safari with an authorized mahout guide. Jeep rides can be arranged at the Tourist Centre. Although jeeps penetrate deeper into the forest than elephants, they cannot get nearly as close to the wild animals.
Best Time to Visit: 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..
How to Get there:
Air: Agra is the nearest airport connected to Delhi through a number of flights. However, Jaipur will be the most convenient airport, if you are traveling from cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The Indian Airlines has regular flights from Mumbai.
Rail: Bharatpur, on the Delhi-Mumbai trunk route, served by a number of important trains.
Road: A network of express bus services link Bharatpur with several cities within and outside the State. Tongas and Cycle-rickshaws are the best way to commute within the city. Buses for Sariska are easily available at an interval of 30 minutes. To reach Bharatpur from Delhi, take the NH2 to Mathura via Faridabad, Palwal, Hodal and Kosi Kalan. From Mathura, take the state road to Bharatpur.
General Info / Tips:
Walking and cycling 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.
The park remains open from sunrise to sunset around the year.
A cycle can be hired for Rs 25 per day and a cycle rickshaw is available for Rs. 50 per hour. The rickshaw puller’s
displaying a yellow plate means they double up as guides, also carrying binoculars.
Entry fee for foreign tourists is Rs. 200 while Rs. 25 is fixed for Indian residents.
3 hours is a standard time you would need to cover the entire sanctuary. The best time to start the day is around 8 AM.
Field guides and park maps are sold at the Tourist Reception Centre (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 pythons).
To observe the flora of the park from close quarters, take a boat trip in the lake where most animals and birds come to quench their thirst. (Boat ride charges : Rs. 100 per person/ hour)