Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of birds, especially during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to be resident. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a World Heritage Site.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a man-made and man-managed wetland and one of the national parks of India. The reserve protects Bharatpur from frequent floods, provides grazing grounds for village cattle, and earlier was primarily used as a waterfowl hunting ground. The 29 km2 (11 sq mi) reserve is locally known as Ghana, and is a mosaic of dry grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps and wetlands. These diverse habitats are home to 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species, 7 turtle species, and a variety of other invertebrates. Every year thousands of migratory waterfowl visit the park for wintering and breeding. The sanctuary is one of the richest bird areas in the world and is known for nesting of resident birds and visiting migratory birds including water birds. The rare Siberian cranes used to winter in this park but this central population is now extinct. According to founder of the World Wildlife Fund Peter Scott, Keoladeo National Park is one of the world’s best bird areas. Along with the Loktak Lake of Manipur, Keoladeo National Park is placed on the Montreux Record under the Ramsar Convention.
The sanctuary was created 250 years ago and is named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. Initially, it was a natural depression; and was flooded after the Ajan Bund was constructed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, then the ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur
Among land birds are a rich assortment consisting of warblers, babblers, bee-eaters, bulbuls, buntings, chats, Painted francolins and quails. There are many birds of prey including the osprey, peregrine, Pallas’ sea eagle, short-toed eagle, tawny eagle, imperial eagle, spotted eagle and crested serpent eagle. The greater spotted eagle has recently been recorded breeding here, a new breeding record for the species in India.
Mammalian fauna of Keoladeo National Park is equally rich with 27 identified species. Nilgai, feral cattle, and chital deer are common while sambar are few. Wild boar and Indian porcupine are often spotted sneaking out of the Park to raid crop fields. Two mongoose species, the small Indian mongoose and the common Indian gray mongoose, are occasionally found. Cat species present include the jungle cat and the fishing cat. The Asian palm civet and the small Indian civet are also present, but rarely sighted. The smooth-coated otter can be seen attacking birds such as coots and at times crossing the woodlands. Golden Jackals and Striped hyenas are also sighted and have taken up the role of predators and feed on birds and rodents. Many species of rats, mice, gerbils and bats are also found in the park.
By virtue of being one of the best bird watching sites of Asia, more than 100,000 visitors come to the park every year. The range of visitors varies from very serious birdwatchers to school children. Of the visitors, 45,000 are foreign tourists.
Near by Places
In addition the location of the park is such that tourists visiting Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur invariably stop over at Bharatpur. The park opens from sunrise to sunset around the year.
The ticket is Rs 500 per foreign visitor and
Rs 75 for Indian visitors.
Vehicles are not permitted inside the park, but you need to park them in the designated parking area for Rs 50 for a four-wheel vehicle. After this you can choose to walk, bicycle, or go by cycle rickshaw, Tonga or boat when the water level is high.
Gents standard bicycle is available for IRs 25 and ladies cycle is available for IRs 40. Do check that the bicycle is in good condition. For all services including parking you will have to pay and take a token from the counter at the main gate. There is no charge for taking a digital camera inside the park. The charge for a video camera is Rs 450.
If you do not wish to drive bicycle or walk, then take a rickshaw for IRs 100 per hour. The cycle rickshaw wallah’s displaying yellow plate meaning authorized double up as guides also carry binoculars which are for Rs 50 per hour.
How to reach
Air: The nearest airports are in Delhi, and Jaipur they will connect Bharatpur with rest of country.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Bharatpur Junction (5 km). Many trains from New Delhi (New Delhi – Mumbai and Agra – Jaipur route) stop at Bharatpur. One can easily reached by train.
Road: Bharatpur is very well connected by roads with other parts of the nation. One can travel through own vehicle too. There are regular bus services from Delhi (180 km), Agra(55 km), Mathura (35 km), Jaipur (178 km), Alwar (117 km) and adjoining areas.