A trip to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

What lured me in writing this post:
I am a vivid reader of Ghumakkars’ posts and always planned to try hand in writing and sharing my travelogues too. I have travelled a few places of interest and have enough photographs but was either short of time or shy in writing a post for the first time.
I have visited the place four times, the first time in a tour organized by the Yamaha motorcycles in June 2008. One of my colleagues purchased a Yamaha Gladiator motorcycle in May 2008. For its promotion the company organized a tour to Bharatpur with free fuel and food for two on each bike. I usually look forward to join such events and enthusiastically joined the trip. That was how I happened to visit the park for the first time. Since it was very hot and dry therefore, the birds were very scarce except peacocks and other common inland birds and the tour on bike from Delhi to Bharatpur was tiring and exhausting. The complimentary treat at Hotel Bharatpur Ashok was however refreshing and rejuvenating. It tickled into my mind to visit the place again during its season. After that I visited the place twice, once in November 2011 and in October 2012.

Yamaha Riders Team

Yamaha Riders Team



About Bharatpur National Park

Bharatpur National Park is now christened as Keoladeo National Park popular in the natives as Ghana (dense) National Park. The park is located 35 kms from Mathura on a single but good road except few road breaks initially. On the way from Delhi to Agra via Faridabad just after crossing Mathura is a flyover, on your right is a very large white marble monumental building of an Ashram, just after crossing the Ashram one reaches the flyover. On your right in the middle of the flyover, the board of Bharatpur appears. The way to turn right is only after alighting the flyover and by taking a U-turn. Once you enter into the city you will find boards of Ghana. To avoid confusions, you may ask the locals about way to Ghana as the locals don’t respond to its new name. After passing few roundabouts, you may find a small entry gate with a few vehicles and pedal rickshaws parked on the left and that is the main gate to enter the sanctuary. Entry fee is Rs. 50/- per adult (Indian) and Rs. 10/- for students with valid cards. Entry time upto 6 PM. You are allowed with your vehicle beyond the main gate upto the main entry of the Bird Sanctuary which is further 1.75 kms from the main gate on an additional payment of Rs. 100/- valid for single entry or you may hire the pedal rickshaws on a fixed rate of Rs. 70/- per hour. If you have your vehicle you may rather pay Rs. 100/- and reach upto the parking which is 1.75 kms. inside the forest. You may enter the sanctuary after showing your entry ticket of Rs. 50/- per adult collected at the main gate. (Note: No tickets available at this point so entry tickets should be obtained at the main gate only) From this point no vehicle is allowed hence you may go by walking or hire a pedal rickshaw, bicycle or horse-cart available at the main gate.

Rickshaw Ride

Rickshaw Ride

The length of the straight road upto which rickshaws/horse-carts are allowed is around 3.5 kms one side. If not in a hurry, it takes around four odd hours to and fro into the tranquility and serenity of the sanctuary which will surely engulf your mind and soul and take you in a completely different world with melodies of birds chirping, whistling, flipping and all other sounds that will make you feel lost in a world of dreams. You can watch variety of birds guided by the rickshaw pullers or the horse-cart driver who are well trained guides and have good knowledge of the various species of birds both inland and migratory.

Pathway

Pathway

Marsh

Marsh

The path through the jungle appears to be through the middle of a marshy land with water and shrubs on both ends, far stretched. Birds nestling, feeding and growing can be sighted on their respective temporary homes on the tree tops, long grasses in the marshy land and bushes at hand shaking distance. The dried out trees in the water bodies are platforms for the fishing birds to dry their feather and wings and also wait for the right fish of its choice to come closer for catching. The nicest view is the nesting birds hatching their eggs and feeding the newly born in the nests, neatly done on the tree tops. One can also spot Indian Phytons resting at the roadsides during winter or crossing the pathway. The monitor lizards are also very often visible but they are shy and before you can click your camera, may vanish into their burrows in the trees or camouflage into the dry shrubs. Monkeys, Wild Cats, Jackals, Spotted Deer, Sambar & Blue bulls are very likely, often and must seen mammals to every visitor. The national bird is available in abundance and greets warmly to every visitor right from the main gate. In the evening you may find them climbing on the tops of the dried out trees, moving slowly but steadily due to their heavy weight specially the males but reaches the culmination finally to avoid being hunted by the wild cats, jackals and other predators. The view is breathtaking and mesmerizingly delightful.

Antelope

Antelope

Posing Peacock

Posing Peacock

The road inside the sanctuary ends at the Lord Shiva Temple inside the sanctuary locally worshipped as KEOLADEO. A watch tower at this point is for a bird eye view around the sanctuary and to shoot the birds in air (in your camera of course). The view from the tower is an all time memory and if you are an expert with a compatible camera may shoot birds flying, with their wings spread out in the air. (Some birds look awesome only on spreading their wings e.g. Neelkant). Another tower is also built now which is near to it and is an added advantage during extra crowd. There is also a small government run canteen beside the Keoladev Temple which serves tea, cold drinks, mineral water, snacks etc. at reasonable rate. (Only during season).

Neelkanth

Neelkanth

Old Tower

Old Tower

Keoladev Temple

Keoladev Temple

My recent trip to Bharatpur:

On 7th September 2013, my wife’s birthday, we decided to celebrate it in tranquility away from the hustle & bustle of daily DELHI life. So we started from Janakpuri, New Delhi via Faridabad at 6.30 AM in my car (Swift) (230 kms) loaded with few bottles of pureit water, some sand witches, a packet of biscuits, half a dozen bananas and few dull linen clothes. The Nikon Cool Pix, a binocular, chargers, a torch, pair of compatible shoes, sun screen lotion were the only accessories. Done with breakfast while driving on the less crowded highway between Palwal and Vrindavan, reached Bharatpur at or around 11 am. The 30 kms stretch single road from Mathura to Bharatpur was full of potholes only one year back during my last visit but this time it was completely different and the Rajasthan Government has done a remarkable good job improving the road condition. Since I visited the place earlier too hence, I straight away reached at the main gate of the sanctuary without delaying in querying locals about the turns. We came planned to stay there hence we took tickets at the entry gate and entered straight to Hotel Bharapur Ashok, a government run property which in my knowledge is the only star property inside any forests in India. The tariff is Rs. 3000/- per room for double occupancy and Rs. 2500/- for single occupancy with complimentary Break Fast plus taxes during off seasons and Rs. 4500/- and Rs. 4000/- respectively during peaks. The property looks dull from outside but is well maintained inside. The staffs are very courteous and trimmed in handling guests. If you are not much demanding, it’s the best place to stay in Bharatpur especially if you are to explore the sanctuary with peace of mind. Food is enjoyable though, with lesser choice but reasonably priced, well cooked and served with delicacy. One should realize that this is a forest lodge hence, don’t expect room service, food is served at the restaurant only. The complimentary break fast is so sumptuous that you may not require a meal for the next few hours.

Bharatpur Ashok Board

Bharatpur Ashok Board

Hotel Bharatpur Lawn

Hotel Bharatpur Lawn

After a short nap, we hired a pedal rickshaw and entered into the heaven of birds. After few minutes of slow ride, we startled with view of Kingfisher, parrot with some red fruit in its beak, an owl with closed eyes perhaps sleeping, neelkanth posing for photo session, a migratory duck swimming in the marsh (having colorful beak), large common cranes, snake bird drying its wings after fishing seated at its throne (dried tree branch in the marsh), swarm of butterflies, some beautiful beetles, antelopes, laughing doves, etc. etc. The most enticing and exhilarating of all was the view of colonies of large and colorful painted storks, nesting, hatching, fishing and doing all zestful acts that will melt your heart and make you fall in love with nature. A congregation of these birds was the main attraction at this season however, the Siberian cranes and migratory ducks that may visit the park in mid October are the others to grab attraction and fetch visitors.

Beetle

Beetle


Butterfly

Butterfly

Coloured Beak Duck

Coloured Beak Duck

Crane

Crane

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Laughing Doves

Laughing Doves

Owl

Owl

Painted Stork Feeding

Painted Stork Feeding

Painted Stork

Painted Stork

Parrot

Parrot

Snake Bird

Snake Bird

Stork Colony

Stork Colony

Whistling Doves

Whistling Doves

Watching birds in its natural habitat has its own essence and pleasure, however since we are scarce of ornithology; I can suggest readers to read the compiled post of Wikipedia or other authentic sources to know about the birds available in the sanctuary. You will simply enjoy the BIRDS in the sanctuary being a lay man also, as we did. All in all, my wife was very happy celebrating her birthday in the wild with the beautiful birds singing happy birthday for her.

Evening was cool, after refreshing at the Hotel Bhratpur Ashok, we planned to loiter around. It was dusk and could hear different sounds (mostly not identifiable) some of which were pleasant to ear and some were like howling and fearful. My wife was a bit scared as the jungle was lonely except few patrolling forest guards visible sometimes. We were busy clicking the peacocks ascending the bare trees step by step and posing, by virtue of which I got ample time to click them with poses of my choice. Jackals were very fast running and me being an amateur just wasted time and drained the camera batter by clicking at no where. One of the forest guards patrolling suddenly stopped passing by on his motorcycle and picked something from the road and kept it in his pocket. Later he asked us to move into our hotel since it was getting dark. Out of curiosity we asked him what he picked from the road and he politely replied, it was a plastic wrapper thrown by some visitor. Every nature lover in the locality is in habit of picking any non biodegradable objects lying any where in the park premise to keep the sanctuary a hospitable place for the flora and fauna. Remarkable isn’t it. I learnt a lesson and so do I believe and expect every valuable reader of this post will do.

Posing Peacock

Posing Peacock

The night was so quite that I could hear my own breath while respirations. I and my wife were talking, whispering and even then it was loud enough and audible. Having nothing to do much, we finished our dinner at the Hotel’s restaurant, slept early to wake up early.

Next morning, at dawn, again entered into the sanctuary by paying entry fee once again. We were told that few more birds and reptiles are visible only in the early morning. It was cool and pacific morning, walking through the meadows amidst tuneful chirping we walked almost 3 kms inside with no sign of tiredness. Caught sight of the already mentioned birds again besides few monitor lizards resting on the path sides taking perhaps sun bath lethargically however, quick enough to slip into their burrows or the bushes avoiding camera clicks. After a long timid wait, I could take a picture lastly that too of a camouflaged hero. Suddenly, we found a guide and an ornithologist with their huge equipments passing by whispering and walking soundless but briskly heading towards the new tower. We joined them in their tune in greed of discovering something interesting and innovative in the experts’ companion. They stopped at a point and started fixing their equipments, we wandered around but nothing special was visible except the common sites, which we have already come across. After some time the guide with a complex looking binocular fitted on a tripod put the lens of a large telescopic camera and started clicking photos of a dense bush. Waiting greedily and humbly for a while I pleaded one of them through gestures to allow me too and he was kind enough to allow me peep into his telescope. What I could see were two button eyes lowly lit peeping through the dense bushes. This was a small bashing bird of owl family, very rare specie as informed by them. We were lucky to spot this bird (name forgotten) and were very lucky to take a photo after trying for more than 20 times due to very low light inside the bushes. Thanks to my Nikon with 50 x zoom. Till now we were fatigued hence, returned with good memories to our hotel completely exhausted as by that time the sun was quite hot. After taking bath and a heavy breakfast (complimentary) we started off at or around 11.30 am and reached home by 4 PM. We have plans to visit the park again in November end to see the migratory birds.

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Rare Bird

Rare Bird


Useful Tips to visitors:

• Smoking is not allowed inside the park
• No bar in Hotel Bharatpur Ashok (Wine shops available outside the main gate)
• Best time to visit is September to March
• Nearest Railway Station is Bharatpur (5 kms)
• Many budget hotels & Resorts available outside the main gate.
• My recommendation is Hotel Bharatpur Ahsok (inside the forest)
• A good camera with telescopic view is inevitable
• No plastics or non biodegradable items should be left out
• A bicycle is the best conveyance to visit the sanctuary.

Compiled from different sources:

A famous avifauna sanctuary that sees (or saw) thousands of rare and highly endangered birds such as the Siberian Crane come here during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to have made the National Park their home. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a declared World Heritage Site.

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, the then ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur, between 1726 to 1763. The bund was created at the confluence of two rivers, the Gambhir and Banganga. The park was a hunting ground for the maharajas of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organised yearly in honor of the British viceroys. In one shoot alone in 1938, over 4,273 birds such as mallards and teals were killed by Lord Linlithgow, the then Governor-General of India. After India’s independence, the rulers of the princely states were allowed shooting rights until 1972. In 1982, grazing was banned in the park, leading to violent clashes between the local farmer and Gujjar communities and the government.
The Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that plays host to thousands of birds especially during the summer season. Over 230 species of birds are known to have made the National Park their home. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a declared World Heritage Site.[2]

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 km (18 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.[3] Every year thousands of migratory waterfowl visit the park for wintering breeding etc. The Sanctuary is one of the richest bird areas in the world. It is known for nesting of its resident birds and visiting migratory birds including water birds. The rare Siberian cranes used to winter in this park but this central population of Siberian Cranes is now extinct. According to Sir Peter Scott Keoladeo Sanctuary is the world’s best bird area.

29 Comments

  • Very well written post and equally supported by beautiful pictures !!

    Keep sharing your travel experience with us.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Mahesh,

      Thank you so much for your morale boosting words. I will definitely post and share my other travel experiences with you all travel enthusiasts.

      Keep travelling

      Ajay

  • Naturebuff says:

    Nice writeup for a lovely place. Nice pics though some captions seem mixed up:-)

    As you said, the Neelkanth or the Indian Roller, also called the Blue Jay is very pretty especially with the wings spread. Very rejuvinating to undertake a journey through nature… I hope more people enjoy this bounty and write about it!

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Hi! there,

      Thanks a ton for your good words and wishes. These will boost me in writing more by learning more.

      Keep travelling

      Ajay

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Ajay.

    Your debut post is indeed a very refreshing, full of information and an extremely useful one for those who are planning a visit. For people who are staying in South Delhi (closer to Noida side), East Delhi and most of North-East, there is now a much better road which connects Mathura, i.e. Yamuna Expressway.

    I have been able to visit the park twice, in 2012 and 2010 and tremendously enjoyed it. My knowledge of birds is zilch but I can share from my experience that by being there for a couple of days, each time, my knowledge increased by leaps and bounds. :-) Now I sometimes surprise people by identifying a common coot or a Male swallow :-). So I recommend this place to everyone.

    If one has time then venturing inside the city can be rewarding too. It smells and feels like a very old city with narrow alleys, tons of shops selling all kind of wares and what not. There are gates to enter the city and there is a time-based traffic regulation so watch out for it.

    Another close-by place which can be included, if one is returning to Delhi, is this fort called ‘Deeg Palace’. There is a water body and then you have this palace, which I believe is a private property, decently kept.

    Bharatpur is also a great stop on your way to Jaipur or Ranthambore national park.

    Welcome again Ajay and I hope to read more from you. Wishes.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Nandan,

      At the outset let me felicitate you with my heartiest regards for inspiring me to write. I always planned to write about all my journeys but none instigated me as much as your very down to earth attitude and site. I always read the the posts in your site and persistently gathered inclination backed with motivation to write. My wife also supported me equally in my efforts. So I shared the first post which was the most recent one with my wife. It is immense pleasure to share platform with all fellow editors most of whom are so humble in writing and clear in mind that one may perform the whole journey while reading those posts. I appreciate all of them and confess to have learnt a bit from all of you guys. What I have written is a kind of compilation of all writings of the esteemed posts of the fellow travelers. I devote this post to you Nandan, for being my teacher without your knowledge. Hope you will now guide me all my way as a teacher with consent. My deep regard to the team of Ghumakkar and best wishes to the site.

      Many Regards
      Ajay

  • Rumjhum says:

    I have been to Bharatpur a couple of years back and stayed at the Bharatpur Ashok only. The location of the hotel is its plus point. We even saw jackals coming in the back garden during the night!!

    I’d liked the hospitality of the people of Bharatpur, right from the Hotel staff to the rickshaw pullers who double up as guides.

    Did you visit the temple there which has hoards of huge turtles?

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Hello Rumjhum,

      Thanks for your kind words about my post. I totally agree with you regarding the humility of staffs and people in Bharatpur. In fact in most part of Rajasthan, you will find people, very hospitable and gracefully helpful by nature. I love to travel in Rajasthan and will share them in my future posts one by one.

      Jackals are in abundance and they are often seen in the backyard of Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, we have also seen them but missed to mention in my post.

      I am not aware of the temple with hoards of turtle, please let me know if there is something to explore. I will visit the place on my next trip.

      Keep travelling

      Ajay

  • Rumjhum says:

    There is a small temple at walking distance from the hotel and in its pond there are big turtles. I had been there in 2009, so am not sure if its still there or not.

    You can read more about it in my post about Bharatpur here: http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/11/08/trip-to-bharatpur-bird-sanctuary/

  • ashok sharma says:

    very good post with plenty of information.good pics.

  • Vipin says:

    A very informative post indeed, welcome to the ghumakkar family, Ajay Ji! Seems now the park is eagerly waiting to welcome us…What are the charges for a cycle hire by the way?

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Vipin,

      I feel privileged to join your company. Just tried to copy the style of older posts in the site. Hope trying better step by step. The cycles are available at Rs. 25/- per trip (classic) and Rs. 35/- per trip (Ranger). A cycle is the best way to venture the park.

      Keep travelling
      Ajay

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Ajay,

    Welcome to Ghumakkar! Great Beginning and thanks for bringing back memories of KNP. We took bicycles and had lot of fun chasing after nilgais to take their photos. Then I did not have a superzoom camera. But 50X that is awesome.

    Suddenly we have all these ornithologists on Ghumakkar. Looks like I will have to buy a bird book to be able to identify some birds.

    Bharatpur had a palace too and I have been thinking of visiting the Deeg palace on the way.

    Great post and looking forward to seeing you here in the coming days!

  • Dear Ajay Sharma,

    Heartiest welcome into the family of Ghumakkar.com where everyone contributes and gets immensely repaid in terms of love and adoration. As if it were not enough, one gets to learn a lot from others’ travel experiences.

    Now coming to your post… Bharatpur is not far away from Saharanpur and I could have visited it several times till now but somehow I could never make it till date. It has remained and still is on my wishlist. That’s why when I got the mail in my inbox about a post on Bharatpur, I could not stop hitting the link. And what a blissful hit it proved itself to be! :)

    I like the way you spell out in great detail all the relevant information which makes your posts the most eligible candidate for bookmarks, rather straight printouts to be kept in ‘important papers’ file.
    I don’t know whether others have done it or not, but I have saved the webpage in my phone. Moreover, I have decided not to let the year 2013 pass without providing the birds and beasts an invaluable chance to get photographed by me. hahahaha.

    So, in nut shell, I just loved this post in its entirety. Thanks a ton for sharing it!

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Sushant,

      Thanks buddy! I just tried to put my feelings in words. Its great pleasure to peruse your kind words of praise. You have instigated me to write more in future. Its good that you have decided to visit the place. I will suggest you to visit it on a week end or holiday because mobile network is low in the forest area and it will not hamper your work on off days. I am planning to visit the park in November again, you may join us in case you feel comfortable.

      Keep travelling
      Ajay

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Amitava,

      So nice to hear such pleasing comments. I am overwhelmed. Just a bit of try, copying the fellow writers. Yes dear you are right, the park is revived by collective efforts by fetching water from chambal and other channel which is now hospitable to the variety of both inland and migratory birds and a visitors delight. The enormous water in the park this time is a nature’s gift due to sufficient rain. Yes, I have plans to visit the park again in November and you are most welcome to join us.

      Keep travelling
      Ajay

  • A Warm welcome Ajay.
    A lively post, with all relevant information and stunning pictures.
    Loved the way you started and then about the national park.
    It is nice to see water inside the park and it’s time for our friends to come and stay there for next few months. During our last visit in January 2005, we were so disappointed to see the dry land and returned with ‘no’ sightings of any birds. There was not a single drop of water in the entire park due to some issues between Rajasthan and MP Govt.

    I too have zero knowledge (except some of the common birds), love birds like most of you…and unfortunately I broke my hearts several times whenever I tried to capture them in the past. Season has just started, so I will again try my hand and hope I will be lucky this time. Let’s see if you can also plan for a visit during this winter.

    Nice post and look forward to read more from you.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Amitava,

      So nice to hear such pleasing comments. I am overwhelmed. Just a bit of try, copying the fellow writers. Yes dear you are right, the park is revived by collective efforts by fetching water from chambal and other channel which is now hospitable to the variety of both inland and migratory birds and a visitors delight. The enormous water in the park this time is a natures gift due to sufficient rain. Yes, I have plans to visit the park again in November and you are most welcome to join us.

      Keep travelling
      Ajay

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Now this is what i call a bombastic post studded with excellent pictures of the sanctuary. It is amazing to see such an amazing post from a debutant amidst all the mundane posts ..

  • Saaqi Bhat says:

    Your rare bird is a Common Indian Nightjar :)

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Hi! Saaqi,
    Thanks for the update. Learning about the birds a little now. Yes, its the Common Indian Nightjar, now I know. Please see if you have any updates on my latest blog on, Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary here.

    Keep Travelling
    Ajay

  • jessica says:

    Thanks for posting.Most of us like to visit the animals in different wild life sanctuaries. Travelling is a good habit. Travelling and collecting the information regarding sanctuaries saves wild life.India is a country with liberal regular resources with fabulous scenes and blended sack of seasons to suit assorted common life making the Indian safari a colossal experience for the explorer. This fantastic nation has in its store more than 500 wildlife Sanctuaries in India, which joins the safe houses under ‘Undertaking Tiger’ started by the Government of India. Common life fans, over the world, are really captivated to have the direct experience of the safari in India for the gutsy characteristic background..

  • neel murali says:

    That rare owl at the end is actually a nightjar and the laughing doves are actually rufous treepies

  • Very informative post Ajay
    I am planning for December this year …

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