One of the best reserve parks for the avifauna in the world, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is the most tempting tourist destination for the bird lovers. A safari in the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is an alluring and refreshing experience in the tranquility of Nature with the melodious bird chirping everywhere. Now known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, the park is among the few of the protected park, especially, for the hundreds of unique bird species. Apart from the exotic avifauna species such as native water birds, migratory winter birds, waterside birds, etc., the dense forest of the sanctuary is also a home to the various species of Deer - Chital, Sambar, Spotted Deer as well as Wild Boar and Nilgai. The park is the natural home to more than 300 bird species, around 50 species of fish, 25 reptile species, including snakes, lizards and turtles, 7 amphibian species and numerous other invertebrates along with more than 370 flora species.
The total area of the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is around 29 sq km among which approx 11 sq km is the swampland the rest of the area consists of the big grasslands and scrublands. The Sanctuary was once the bird hunting ground for the Royals of the Bharatpur princely state. In fact, this bird sanctuary was created around 250 years ago when a large area with the natural depression was flooded after the Ajan Bund was built by the then King of the Bharatpur state, Maharaja Suraj Mal during 1726 to 1763. The swampland, which became the habitat of the hundreds of bird species, was named after the local temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which is locally known as Keoladeo Temple. The Bund was constructed at the convergence of the Gambhir River and the Banganga River.
The hundreds of exotic migratory birds are the prime attractions for the bird-loving tourists visit the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. The migratory birds, mostly visit here from the distant areas of Siberia and Central Asia to spend the winter season. These migratory birds arrive in the winters and after spending the winter near the Bharatpur Lake, they return to their homeland to visit again in the winter. The prime species of the migratory bird that visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary are different species of Cranes, Geese, Pelicans, Ducks, Hawks, Eagles, Shanks, Stints, Warblers, Wagtails, Wheatears, Pipits, Larks, Flycatchers, Buntings, etc.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, also known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park, is home to the finest birds and faunal species. The park got its name from Keoladeo Temple that is located inside the boundary of this sanctuary.
The park was the hunting ground of the rulers of Bharatpur until the year 1972. As, even after the independence of India and abolishment of the Imperial rule, the rulers of Bharatpur were given the hunting rights in the park. This private duck shooting preserve of Bharatpur Royals declared as a protected Bird Sanctuary in the year 1976 and the sanctuary was designated as the National park in 1982 and named as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The national park was given the UNESCO World Heritage site status in the year 1985. Most of the National Parks in India were developed from the natural forests which were the hunting preserves of the rulers of the princely states of India, but the Bharat Bird Sanctuary was man-made habitat for birds, created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur.
The numerous counts of the bird species are the major attractions for the tourists in Bharatpur. These species fly through distant places like Siberia and Central Asia specifically in winters. Migratory birds at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary include several species of Cranes, Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Wagtails, Warblers, Wheatears, Flycatchers, Buntings, Larks and Pipits, etc. Along with that some major counts of Sambal, Chital, Nilgai and Boar can also be found at the sanctuary.
There are three options to take the safari, viz. Elephant Back Safari, Jeep Rides or Rickshaw Safari. To get the best views of birds, elephant back safari and rickshaw safari is recommended. However, if you want to penetrate deep into the jungles, jeep safari is the best option. Jeeps can booked at the tourist centers outside the main entrance of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
Most productive birding here is done on walking trails or waiting at strategic points. The entire paved path inside the park is around 11 km.
It’s exceptionally tiring if you consider walking. However, the first 5 km in the park, up to the canteen, is where you get to see most of the birds. So, you could consider walking if you are used to doing so. But, remember, it’s 5 km one way.
For most tourists, and for bird photographers with heavy lenses, cycle-rickshaw is probably the best choice. It’s expensive but well worth the enjoyment you get. The park officials set Cycle-rickshaw charges to INR 100 INR 150/- per hour (as on Jan 2019). The cycle-rickshaw pullers are as knowledgeable as the highly-priced guides, at least some of them. If you go in groups of more than 10 people, a guide is compulsory.
Rent a Biycle
Another option is to rent a bicycle, which is quite cheap, around INR 50 – 100 per day. It’s probably the most reasonable and enjoyable way of exploring the park if you are a loner. It would be quite enjoyable if you have a partner. This is the most suitable option for bird photographers with shorter/lighter equipment.
Safari Timing : -
Timings in Summer : 6AM to 6PM
Timings in Winter : 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Sightseeing in Bharatpur
Bharatpur Palace and Museum
A perfect reflection of the royal past of the Bharatpur princely state, the Bharatpur Palace is as impressive as the other elegant palaces in Rajasthan. The graceful and magnificent architecture of the Palace makes it one of the best tourist attractions in Bharatpur. The grandeur of the Bharatpur palace reflects the old heritage of this Rajput royal state and the culture and traditions of the medieval Bharatpur. The palace was constructed with the fusion of Rajput as well as Mughal architectural style. The astounding beauty and grace of the palace come from its unique design which includes floor with rich patterns, walls with the eloquent decor and the lavish living rooms. Also, there is a museum in the palace, known as the ‘Kamra Khas’ that showcase a huge number of antiques such as stone sculpture, arts and crafts, ancient scriptures, etc.
Build by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, the Agra Fort was the prime residence of the Royals of the Mughal dynasty till 1638. This historical fort is located in the city of Agra nearby the famous monument of Taj Mahal in India. Till the capital of the Mughal Empire was shifted to Delhi in the year 1638, the Agra Fort was the power center of the Mughal Empire. A UNESCO world heritage site, the fort of Agra is also known as the Red Fort of Agra which was constructed as an invincible military base by the then Mughal Emperor Akbar. Later, many structures were built in the Fort by the son of Akbar, the Emperor Jehangir and also modified extensively by the Emperor Shah Jahan, son of Jehangir. The Fort is situated around 2.5 km northwest of the Taj Mahal and known as the walled city due to its mammoth size. The Fort of Agra with all of its elegance, lavishness and splendor of the Mughal era is considered one of the finest imperial palace in India.
Being one of the strongest Forts in Rajasthan, the Lohagarh Fort (Iron Fort) is an amazing tourist attraction in Bharatpur. The impregnable defense system of the Fort makes it really a powerful Fort during the 18th century. The Fort was built by the ruler of Bharatpur, Maharaja Suraj Mal in the early years of the 18th century. The Lohagarh Fort has known to be defended and survived various attacks by the Mughal Empire and the British forces as well. The ascetic and magnificent structure of the Fort and the legends of its strength draw a large number of visitors to this Fort. The Fort also has a museum inside its premises known as the Government Museum.
Located inside the premises of the famous Lohagarh Fort, the Government Museum is an excellent place to know the history of the Bharatpur imperial era. The museum contains numerous artifacts having the important cultural, historical and traditional values. The numerous warfare artifacts let you know the various defense weapons and the art of war used during the imperial era in the past. The museum also contains numerous stone sculptures, metallic objects, inscriptions, coins, terracotta items, weapons as well as local arts and the miniature paintings. The art gallery of the museum is having the amazing collections such as miniature paintings on the leaves of the Peepal Tree and old litho papers. The museum is open for the visitors round the year.
Banke Bihari Temple
Dedicated to the Lord Krishna, the Banke Bihari Temple was constructed when the Bharatpur was under the Mughal rule. A visit to this beautiful Hindu temple will be a delightful experience. The temple is also located inside the Lohagrah Fort providing a pleasant view to the ancient Fort. The tranquility inside the temple and serenity that prevails here is very alluring and pacifying to the mind.
The expression "Ghana" implies thick, alluding to the thick woodland, which used to cover the region. The chief vegetation sorts are tropical dry deciduous trees, intermixed with dry meadow in zones where backwoods has been corrupted. Aside from the misleadingly oversaw swamps; a significant part of the region is secured by medium-sized trees and bushes.
The north east range of the Keoladeo National Park is generally commanded by jamun (Syzygium cumini), babul (Acacia nilotica) and kadam (Mitragyna parvifolia). The open forest is for the most part babul with a little measure of ber and kandi. Ber and kair rules the Scrublands.
Piloo (Salvadora persica) are likewise present in the national Park and happens to be just woody plants found in saline soil. The oceanic vegetation is rich and gives sustenance source to waterfowls.
The primary attractions of visitors going to the Keoladeo National Park are the various migratory birds, coming from as far away as Siberia and Central Asia and spend their winters in Bharatpur, before coming back to their rearing grounds.
Migratory birds at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary haven incorporate, a few types of Cranes, Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Wagtails, Warblers, Wheatears, Flycatchers, Buntings, Larks and Pipits, and so forth.
In 1760, an earthen dam (Ajan Dam) was developed, to spare the town, from this yearly idea of nature. The sorrow made by extraction of soil for the dam was cleared and this turned into the Bharatpur Lake. Do you know how Bharatpur Lake was created? Bharatpur used to be flooded every monsoon till an earthen dam was constructed in 1760. Later the depression created by extraction of the soil used for the dam, was cleared and converted into a lake. This lake, a hunting preserve of the Bharatpur royalty, was declared a national park in 1982 and classified as a World Heritage Site in 1985. So if you are a bird-watcher,
A ride on cycle is an exciting way of traveling inside the park. The sanctuary is popular for its avian guests that come from Siberia and it is a treat to watch these birds. But Bharatpur teems with a large number of birds throughout the year and you can watch at least 150 species of birds in a single day. Some of the birds that you may see in the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary include Greater and Indian spotted Eagles, Indian Courser, Imperial, Dalmatian Pelicans, Solitary Lapwing, Dusky Eagle Owls, Demoiselle Cranes and Sarus. October to February is considered to be the best season for visiting the sanctuary.
Best Time to Visit
The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary remains open round the year and tourists can visit any time of the year. However, the winter season is the best time to visit this Bird Sanctuary due to the pleasant weather condition and the migratory birds. During October and March, the bird lover tourists from all over the world visit this sanctuary to enjoy the magnificent view of Nature at its best and the hundreds of beautiful domestic as well as the migratory birds. The time duration from August to November is considered best for the birding of domestic birds while the time from October to March is best for the sighting of the migratory birds which visit from different corners of the world during the winter season. Being situated on the periphery of the Thar Desert, the weather condition of the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is almost similar to the other tourist destinations in Rajasthan.
The climate in Bharatpur is scorching hot in summer and pleasantly cold in winter. During summers (March- June), the temperature ranges from 38°C to 45°C. The onset of monsoon (July-September) lowers the temperature to about 27°C, with 70-75 % humidity. The winter season (October-March) peaks after Christmas. The days are cool and pleasant. However, the nights are too chilly, and the temperature drops below 10°C
The winter season is ideal for visiting Bharatpur National Park in every sense. Winter is perfectly suitable, whether you want to indulge in safari or sightseeing in the sanctuary. The average rainfall in Bharatpur is around 495 mm. Consequently, the climate condition in Bharatpur National Park is sub-humid to semi-arid.
During summer, the average temperature is around 40°C to 46°C in Bharatpur National Park. Hence, the climate condition is not ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activity. The pre-monsoon time is hot and dry with 30% humidity.
During the monsoon season, the average temperature remains around 21°C to 23°C, making the weather pleasant for wildlife tours and safari. However, the monsoon brings the relative humidity around 70-75 %.
How To Reach
By Air :
The nearest airport to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is the Agra airport which is around 54 km away from the sanctuary. There are regular flights to Agra from Delhi, the capital of India. Tourist can reach Agra and then reach Bharat taking through the road or rail. Another nearest airport is the Delhi International Airport, which is around 219 km from Bharatpur. Delhi is well connected to Bharatpur through the roadways and railways.
By Rail :
The nearest railway station is the Bharatpur Railway Junction which is located at the distance of 5 km from the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. There are numerous regular trains are available to reach Bharatpur from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Kota and other major stations in North India. There are direct and connecting trains from all the other cities and towns in India so reaching Bharatpur through railways from any corner of India is easy.
By Road :
Bharatpur Sanctuary is well connected with Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Delhi, Agra, Mathura, etc. through the well-maintained roads. Tourists can reach Bharatpur either by hiring cab/taxi or by the state-run or private-run buses.
Where to Stay in Bharatpur?
Sanctuary Tourist Lodge
The food and hospitality here is delightful. Customers are taken care of with the utmost attention. The pakoras here are delightful. Pair them with a cup of hot tea in the evenings and there’s nothing better you can ask for.
Iora Guest House
A birder’s haven, this is the best accommodation for bird enthusiasts and photographers. You can also meet a lot of fellow photographers here. The proprietor is quite knowledgeable and can provide valuable guidance about the park and nearby attractions.
On the more luxurious side of things, the Birder’s Inn is just as good as it can get in Bharatpur. Enjoy your time here by interacting with fellow tourists and photographers. Also, the staff is very helpful and polite.
Probably the most lavish hotel in the region, Hotel Sunbird offers well decorated rooms and enormous spaces coupled with beautifully landscaped lawns. The lighting is good and so is the food.
Hotel & Resort
Bharatpur forest lodge is situated inside the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary at a distance of 1.5 kms from the main entry gate of the bird sanctuary, Due to its location this birding lodge is undoubtedly the best located birding lodge in Bharatpur. Bharatpur forest lodge is having 17 Ac Rooms, all are equipped with all the modern facilities with attached bathroom running hot and cold water, all the rooms at forest lodge is having private balconies with sanctuary view.Bharatpur forest lodge is considered as a paradise for bird watchers.