Bharatpur is a historical city at Rajasthan state of North India. Presence of Keoladeo Ghana national park or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is the main identity of this town. It is one of the finest waterbird sanctuary in India which was created by humans and managed by humans. It provides feeding and nesting ground for more than 390 bird species. It was declared as a bird sanctuary on 13-Mar-1976. This national park was established on 10-Mar-1982. Since then, grazing was banned. After being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site (Natural), it gained popularity and tourists begun visiting this destination for bird-watching and birds photography. It also have status of Ramasar site and Important Bird Area (IBA). It is spread over 29 sq,kms with wetland area of 8.5 to 11 sq.kms. Its location is at the confluence of two rivers called Gambhir river and Banganga river. This land is of natural depression on which Ajan bund (West of park) helps in the water retaining capacity of this wetland and thus it offers ideal wetland for birds. Its name Keoladeo is derived from local temple, located inside the national park and dedicated to lord Shiva. Where as "Ghana" is a locally used word means forest. Thus Keoladeo Ghana means "forest of Keoladeo".
Bharatpur is a historical place. It is believed that its name is derived from Bharat who was brother of lord Rama. It is said that this region was under control of Bharat thus its name was given as Bharatpur. In Hindu epic "Mahabharata" period, reference of Matsya kingdom comes as the place where 5 Pandava brothers spend last one year of their exile in secret way. This kingdom was ally of Pandav brothers and they participated in historic was of Mahabharata. Here in 5th century, Matsya kingdom was ruling over this region. In latest history, Maharaja Surajmal had control over this region in 18th century. In those days, it was confluence of two local rivers called Gambhir and Banganga. Due to natural depression, this region gets flooded during monsoon but gets wasted and same region faces water scarcity in summers thus in order to save the monsoon water, Maharaja Surajmal decided to built a dam in south-west of this natural depression to develop a large catchment area to conserve the rainy and flood water and use it as per requirement. This construction was done in between 1726-1763 and given name as Ajan Bund. This resulted into development of aquatic vegetation, trees, grasslands. Wetland also attracted may aquatic insects and vertebrates. All this developed ideal conditions for migratory birds for nesting and feeding and thus bird sanctuary took shape. Bharatpur rulers use this as an opportunity to use it as an duck shooting reserve. As British India officers were fond of hunting and shooting so local rulers use this as an opportunity to invite them for shootings, in order to develop their ties with British Indian administration. As Delhi was not so far thus high-rank officers from Delhi were invited on shooting programs and thousands of birds were killed on such programs. In those days, nobody bothered for birds conservation till India gain independence. In 1956, it was notified as bird sanctuary but shooting at small level continues till 1965. In 1985, it was declared as national park and get listed as World Heritage Site (Natural).
Including Keoladeo national park in your tour itinerary is a value for money deal. It is a small destination with huge opportunity of good nature photography and birds photography. Like national parks, here park visit fee is very nominal and tourists get sufficient time to explore, study and do photography in national park. Those who are interested in becoming ornithologist will find themselves in a dream destination where hundreds of different bird species can be seen at a place and we can comfortable study their behavior, feeding habit, nesting process, flights etc. Here accessibility is very easy with many accommodation options. Being on route of Golden Triangle, it can be covered easily.
Keoladeo national park can be visited from sunrise to sunset. As per change in sunrise-sunset timing, opening and closing time also changes. Here park entry gets closed, one hour before park closing time.
Keoladeo national park is spread over 29 sq. kms. area. It is not a vast national park for which we need safari vehicles. It is a wetland which can be covered either by walking or using bicycles or tricycles. Thus majority of tourists use tri-cycle option to visit the park. Benefit of using tricycle is that it allows comfortable movement, inside the park, along with your camera equipments. As it is a birding destination thus we need slow movement vehicle to observe the birds movement easily and may stop at any point for birdwatching, videography and photography.
Bharatpur bird sanctuary is a small landscape with dryland, grasslands and wetland portion. This forest is chiefly of Central India dry deciduous type.
|Anogeissus Pendula||Nilgai||Common Crane||Indian Rock Python|
|Acacia catechu||Wild Boar||Little Grebe||Common Monitor Lizard|
|Zizyphus mauritiana||Hog Deer||Little Green Heron||Checkered Keelback Water Snake|
|Acacia leucophloea||Spotted Deer||Spotted-billed Pilican||Krait|
|Butea monosperma||Common Palm Civet||Indian White-backed Vulture||Indian Garden Lizard|
|Bauhinia racemosa||Small Indian Civet||Siberian Rubythroat||Spotted Pond Turtle|
|Grewia tenax||Indian Mongoose||Great Spotted Eagle||Indian Flapshell Turtle|
|Grewia flavescens||Common Mongoose||Peregrine Falcon||Spotted Supple Skink|
|Dichrostachys cinerea||Black Buck||Great Indian Bustard||Fan-throated Lizard|
|Balanites aegyptiaca||Sambar||Pheasant-tailed Jacana||Spectacled Cobra|
Bharatpur is just 190kms south-west of Delhi and 50 kms west of Agra city. It lies in extreme eastern part of Rajasthan state, close to Uttar Pradesh state border. It can be very well reached by flight and train options. Bharatpur have its own railway station thus it train approach is very good for visiting Keoladeo national park.
|Destinations||Keoladeo National Park
|Bharatpur Railway Station||6|
|Ranthambore National Park||240|
|Sariska National Park||150|
Keoladeo national park is a popular birding destination in which large number of birds are of migratory category. As major migration took place with the beginning of winter season thus it is said to be the best time to visit Bharatpur. Majority of tourists visit Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Autumn till winter end i.e. from October to February. It is the period when maximum inter-country migration took place thus large variety of bird species can be seen in this period. Here you need to understand that from 20th Dec to 15th Jan, north India remain affected by morning fog thus it may pose some challenge in morning photography. Resident birds have their breeding and nesting season from March to June but due to hot climate and dryness in vegetation, photographers avoids this period. If you are on tiger safari trip of India then period of February to May is good and thus tourists may include Keioadeo trip in their tour plan.
As Keoladeo national park is a birding destination thus its best time to visit will be as per availability of birds and how best they can be photographed. As already mentioned if your tour plan covers heritage sites and birding destination then plan for period of November to February. As their is no competition for safari permits in Keoladeo national park so short notice plans may also work unless your dates are on any festival period like Diwali, Dussehra, Christmas, New year. If you are on wildlife trip in which you would like to cover birding and tiger safari destination then choose the period of mid of January to April month and plan in advance as tiger reserves safari permits should must be booked in advance. Here Spring & Summer seasons are considered good for photography. If you have included Rhino safari also in your plan then choose the period of January to mid of April. North-east India is known for Rhino tours and here monsoon arrives till May thus must conclude tour before monsoon.
Large number of resorts and heritage hotels are located in Bharatpur town at very good rates. Here accommodation is not a challenge. Even if your are staying at Agra hotel, then also it is possible to visit Keoladeo national park as an excursion tour. If you have more than one night stay then choose Bharatpur hotels only. Sometimes wildlife lovers prefers to stay in Bharatpur hotel and visit Agra as an excursion tour.
Keoladeo national park is conveniently located at eastern part of Rajasthan, close to Uttar Pradesh state border. It is surrounded by variety of popular tourist destinations like Agra, Ranthambore national park, Jaipur, Sariska national park, Pushkar, Delhi, Gwalior etc.