A Pleasant Niche of the Migratory Birds
Keoladeo Ghana National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan is a famous bird sanctuary. It is home to thousands of birds during summer season. The park was created 250 years ago and is named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its premises. It was a duck shooting reserve for Maharaja Suraj Mal since the 1850’s. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971 and a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1985. This diverse habitat is home to 366 bird species and the park attracts migratory birds from Siberia, Central Asia, Europe and Tibet.
Migratory birds include several species of Cranes, Pelicans, Eagles, Ducks, Geese, Hawks, Wagtails, Larks and the famous Siberian Crane. It is also inhabited by zoological species as well like Sambhar, Chital, Nilgai, Boar and Chinkaras. Walking and cycling along the reserve get visitors close to the rich bird life.
The terrain of the park consists of grasslands and scrublands, along with marshes. The principle vegetation types are tropical deciduous forests, which are dominated by Kadam, Jamun, Babul and small amount of Kandi and Ber. The aquatic vegetation is rich and provides valuable food source to waterfowls.
Worms, Insects, Mollusks are in abundance, which are food for many fishes and birds constituting a major link in food chain. Apart from bird’s paradise, it provides shelter to various wild animals like jackal, hyena, fishing cat, jungle cat, wild boar, blackbuck etc.
Bharatpur Government Museum
Located inside the park, the museum exhibits the rich archaeological collection of wealth, antiquities, sculptures and inscriptions and provides an insight to the royal grandeur of Bharatpur.
Constructed by Maharaja Suraj Mal in the 18th century, it is one of the strongest forts ever built in Indian history. It is named as Iron fort due to its invincibility at the time when British tried to conquer it. The fort complex also houses a Ganga temple and a Lakshman temple.
Excursions in Bharatpur
Built in 1730 AD enclosed by an 8km high wall, the fort is a conglomeration of palaces- Purana mahal, Sheesh mahal, Suraj bhavan, Nand bhavan, Krishna bhavan, Keshav bhavan and Gopal bhavan, collectively termed as Deeg Palace. Sprawling gardens in the fort on the ‘Char Bagh’ style are famous and often visited.
Besides these spots, one can also visit Agra and Taj Mahal, which are only 35km away.
When to Visit
Though the park is opened throughout the year but the best time to visit is August to November for resident birds and October to February for migratory birds.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is Agra, which is 50km away
Located on NH-11 a good network of transport is available that makes it easily accessible to all major cities.
The Bharatpur railway junction is 6 km from the park and regular trains run from all major towns and cities.