Birds of the same feather flock together; but at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary birds migrate together, venture together and pose for beautiful photographs together. Renamed as Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur National Park is a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage located in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Its proximity to the capital makes it one of the popular weekend getaways from Delhi during autumn and winters.
Housing more than 366 species of birds, 379 species of plants, and around 30 mammals, the new name of the sanctuary is derived from the temple of Keoladeo, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Bird family in the park includes hundreds of aquatic birds that are natives of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Siberia. These birds come to India during winter, and that’s what makes Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary an interesting getaway for bird watchers and wildlife photographers.
Best time to visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
While you can plan a trip anytime you want to, the best time to visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is August – November for watching resident birds and October – March for spotting migratory birds.
Opening timings: 6 am – 6 pm (summers) | 6:30 am – 5 pm (winters)
How to reach Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Once an impregnable city, Bharatpur is located in east Rajasthan. The city is well connected to Delhi, Agra, Gwalior and other major cities of the country, so planning trip there shouldn’t be tricky at all.
By air: The nearest airport is Agra at a distance of 56 km.
By train: Bharatpur railway station is at a distance of 6 km from the park.
By road: NH-11 connects Bharatpur with Agra (56 km, 5 hours). Delhi (176 km, 5 hours) and Jaipur (176 km , 6 hours) are the other two places from where tourists prefer to drive.
Please note that entry fee in the park for Indians is INR 50, and for Foreigners, it is INR 400
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History of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Now known as the Keoladeo National Park, the area was used as a duck shooting preserve by the Maharaja of Bharatpur. This was from 1850s until March 1982, when it was Bharatpur National Park. Later in March 1976, it was renamed as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. After seeing the diverse range of flora and fauna flourishing in the park, the UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in 1985. Finally in 1982, grazing in the park was completely banned by the government thus making it a green haven for birds and animals residing there.
Flora and fauna of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Flora: Flowering beauties of the sanctuary
Keoladeo National Park is an amazing oasis of tranquility between the otherwise crowded getaways of Agra and Jaipur. The forest here is semi-arid biotype with significant vegetation. Given that the forest here is a dry deciduous type, the place is dotted with medium size trees and shrubs.
Kadam, Jamun, and Babul trees cover a major portion of the north-east region of the park. Forests in the park comprise of Babul with a small amount of Kandi and Ber. Pilu is the only hardwood plant that grows in the forests of Keoladeo National Park. The aquatic vegetation of the park is rich and suffices the food requirement for waterfowl.
Fauna: Known for migratory birds and wild animals
Bharatpur National Park is one of Asia’s finest birding areas, with over hundreds of resident and migrant birds. Once a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas, Keoladeo now sees a lot of birds such as cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks, and pipits.
The 29 sq km area of Keoladeo National Park is not just known for birds. It is also a great place to watch mammals like the golden jackal, jungle cat, nilgai, sambar, and wild boar. It’s a treat to watch them play, pounce and move around freely in their natural habitat. During the month of winter, pythons can also be found moving around sluggishly.
Watch out for: Demoiselle, the rare Siberian Cranes, Striped Hyaena, Fishing Cat, and Blackbuck
Bird safari at Bharatpur National Park
Bird safari makes for the most surreal experience at Keoladeo National Park. In fact, it is one of the best things to do in Rajasthan for the nature lovers. To catch the live action from some of the rarest birds in the world stay punctual and plan a visit when birds from neighboring countries migrate to spend the winter season there. As mentioned above, the best months to visit the sanctuary are August to November and October to March.
The sanctuary is spread over 29 sq km with well laid-out forest trails and can be easily covered on foot, a rickshaw, or a cycle. However, motor vehicles are not permitted inside the sanctuary premises. Add lots of excitement to your birding tour by going for an early morning or late evening boating trip. Make the most of your photography skills by taking candid shots of birds flying around.
Timings: 8 am – 5 pm all days; to get the best value of your time, plan an outing early in the morning or immediately after the sunset
Tips for visitors to Bharatpur National Park
- Carry your own water, hat, shades, and mosquito repellent. Sunscreen will save you from tanning and a pair of binoculars to have a closer look at the beautiful birds.
- Only traveling by rickshaws is authorized inside Bharatpur National Park; however, tongas and boats are also available. Motor vehicles are strictly prohibited inside the park premises.
- Harming any flora or fauna species in the park is a serious offense. Watch and appreciate them from a distance.
- To avoid any difficulty, reach the sanctuary at least one hour before the schedule. You have to go through the basic form filling formalities before you enter.
- A boat ride in the early morning or late evening is suggested. It is considered as the best time to spot the beautiful birds in the park.
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Popular places to visit near Keoladeo National Park
1. Bharatpur Palace: Contemplate the architectural wonder
Exhibiting the right blend of Mughal and Rajputana architecture, the Bharatpur Palace is a fine piece of architecture that was built over a period by different kings. The palace is adorned with intricate design patterns towards its main entrance. There is a museum located at the center of the palace that showcases the 2nd-century art and workmanship.
2. Rope Castle Adventure Park: Try some adventurous activities here
Rope Castle Adventure Park offers a number of rope activities like rappelling, Burma bridge, zip-line, climbing, archery etc. The best part is, it is just 200 meters far from Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary.
Tariff: Starts at INR 900 per person; includes veg-lunch, hi-tea, and any 4 activities
Timings: 9 am – 7 pm
3. Lohagarh Fort: The invincible and unassailable fort!
Formidably structured with a deep moat surrounding it, Lohagarh Fort stood unscathed against numerous attacks made by the British. As you enter the fort you’d see attractive monuments, built by Raja Suraj Mal, each one dedicated to his victories over the Mughals and the British. The Ashtadhatu (eight-metal) gateway bears paintings of huge elephants is a major attraction at the fort.
4. Deeg Palace: A monumental palace turned luxurious resort
Built by Raja Suraj Mal – the famous ruler of Bharatpur, Deeg Palace is enclosed by impressive moats, ramparts, and gateways. Many canons and guns belonging to different rulers can be found in this palace, which is an insignia of invincibility of Bharatpur.
Best places to stay at when visiting Bharatpur
Bharatpur greets its visitors with imposing forts and lush greenery where you find nature at its best. Udai Vilas Palace near the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is, in fact, considered to be one of the best wildlife resorts in India. For other options, here is a list of a few hotels recommended for a calm retreat. Consider them before you freeze your Rajasthan tour package.
Flocking to places such as this could act as a natural stress buster. So, how soon are you going to plan a tour to the haven of chirpy birds and flourishing meadows?
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