If you need a quiet weekend getaway, would like to experience nature and are fascinated by birds, the next time you are in Delhi, Agra or Jaipur, make it a point to take a trip to the nearby Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
Created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur, this sanctuary (also known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park) is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world! The sanctuary is unique because it is one of the two wintering grounds for the endangered species of Siberian cranes. The sanctuary also has a number of migratory birds mostly from Central Asia.
While August to September is the breeding season, the best time to visit here is between October and February, when the migrant birds arrive from all over the globe. However, the sanctuary is open all year through.
What to see
The park houses more than 300 species of birds and is spread over 30 square kilometers. It is the perfect place to introduce your child to the wonderful world of animals and birds. The migratory birds arrive by August and leave in February. You can find several species of Cranes, Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Wagtails, Warblers, Wheatears, Flycatchers, etc. The migratory birds include the Coot Snipes, Spanish Sparrow, Red Crested Porhard, Rosy Pelican and Flamingo. The star of the show is, however, the Siberian Crane. You can also find many mammals and reptiles in the park apart from birds. Pythons, Sambhars, Jackals, Otters, Spotted Deer, etc. are some of the other inmates here.
Things to do
The park has well-defined paths so you can choose to walk, cycle or simply hire a rickshaw. If you hire a rickshaw, the pullers are trained guides (trained by the park management) and can spot birds and provide information. Of course, you can decide to walk through the park if you want to explore nature leisurely. This apart, boat trips are available to add to your bird watching experience.
How to get there
The sanctuary is located in east Rajasthan just 50 kilometers from Agra and can make for an ideal weekend vacation. You can get to Bharatpur by bus (operated by the state transport and private operators) from Delhi, Agra or Jaipur. You can also ask for a conducted tour from the Rajasthan tourism office. Bharatpur also has a train station in case you decide to get there by train. It connects to all the major cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai Jaipur and Agra. The nearest airport is situated in Agra. You can also get to Bharatpur by road as an excellent network of roadways connects Bharatpur to all the major cities.
Where to stay
Bharatpur has a number of forest lodges, hotels and guest houses. The Bharatpur Forest Lodge provides an opportunity to stay inside the park. You can also choose to stay in luxurious heritage properties maintained at Bharatpur. Most of the accommodations are maintained by the Rajasthan Tourism Hotels and you can make a reservation in any of its tourist offices in India.
What you need to know before you get there
- Bharatpur has a very tropical climate as is located on the fringes of the Thar Desert. Wear light cottons during the summer and woolens during winter.
- You need to carry a pair of binoculars for bird watching.
- While restaurants are located within the park, they are very basic. It is preferable to carry your own food.
- There is an entry fee to visit the park. Extra charges are levied for cameras and photographic equipment.
Other Travel Attractions
Visit the Bharatpur Government Museum which provides a glimpse of the past royal splendor. The Bharatpur Palace is an exquisite structural blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture. The Lohagarh Fort and Deeg Palace are other places you could visit.