Keoladeo Ghana , Bharatpur
Amongst Indias premier wildlife sanctuaries is the Bharatpur Bird
Sanctuary, on the border between the states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Formally known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, its a marshy area,
stretching over 29 sq km of kadam forests, grasslands and shallow lakes.
Created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the 19th century by diverting water
from an irrigation canal, Keoladeo was founded as a shooting preserve, but
given the status of a bird sanctuary in 1956. Upgraded to a national park
in 1982, the area today ranks as one of the best waterbird preserves in
the world- and its a World Heritage Site.
Keoladeo Ghana, Bharatpur harbours some of Indias richest birdlife,
including the gorgeous shocking-pink tinted painted stork, several species
of cormorants, egrets, pelicans, ibises, cranes, ducks and geese. One can
see over 350 species of birds, both native as well as migratory. Among the
latter, the highly endangered Siberian Cranes, which come to nest in winter,
are the rarest. Bharatpur is the Siberian Cranes only known wintering
ground in India; at last count, only 2 cranes nested at the park, definitely
a cause for worry.
In addition to the birds, Keoladeo is home to a wide range of mammal and
reptile species, including deer, jackals, blackbuck, fishing cats, otters
and blue bulls.
All visitors to Keoladeo Ghana, Bharatpur need to obtain an entry permit
from the Warden or Ranger at the entrance to the park. Foreigners need
to pay an entry fee of Rs 200; Indians pay Rs 25. Extra charges are levied
for cameras and photographic equipment.
Keoladeo Ghana is situated just two km from the town of Bharatpur, which
is connected by train and road to Delhi (176 km away) and Agra (50 km
away). There are regular buses plying to Bharatpur from Delhi, Agra, and
other cities, and taxis can also be hired to do the trip. Within the park,
walking or cycling is easily the best way of seeing Keoladeos fabulous
range of avian life. Taxis or private vehicles, however, are allowed into
the park and can be used. The forest department also operates mini buses
and boats within the park.
If you decide to pedal through the sanctuary, cycles can be hired at
the entrance to Keoladeo; a map of the parks walking trails can
be obtained from the reception counter at the entrance.
Best time to visit
Keoladeo Ghana Bharatpur is open throughout the year for visitors, although
winter is definitely the best time to visit. Summers are too hot and monsoons
too wet for comfort, but the months between October and February are very
suitable for a trip. Besides the fact that the weathers good at
this time, the parks migratory birds arrive during the winter.