Keoladeo National Park: A Birding Paradise in India

Let me begin with a photograph and a quote:

Endearing Sight of Sunrise in Keoladeo National Park

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Have you ever got the feeling that what you are feeling at a particular moment is indescribable in words? That’s how I felt when I made my trip to Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Poets use sublime to describe such phenomena but you see I am not really a poet :-) Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Bharatpur, Rajasthan elicited same reaction.

You will be – as I was – amazed to see the variety of avian species in the Sanctuary. Ghana, as it is known locally due to its rich vegetation, is a mosaic of dry grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps, and wetlands. Established as a National Park on 10th of March 1982, 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 – details courtesy WIKI which fortunately I have written so no plagiarism you see :-)

Map-of-Keoladeo-National-Park

Black Headed Ibis

Common Parakeet

Frolicking Painted Storks in the Bird Sanctuary

A startling fact about the creation of this bird sanctuary is that it was first meant to be shooting preserve and none less than Lord Curzon himself inaugurated the first duck shoot in Keoladeo National Park. Awkward though it may sound but if not for the incentive of bird shooting this bird sanctuary would never have created. The plaque inside the park mentions that on that one single day of inauguration over 540 birds were killed by 17 shooters.

Riding bicycle really got me excited and such was the excitement – it was years since I last rode one – that for initial few moments I was immersed in riding around the serene and verdant landscape of the park. But then I spotted a group of Painted Stork and Eureka! I was brought back to reality that I was on a birding tour.

According to the books and facts there are as many as 350 bird species which you can spot at Keoladeo Ghana National Park. But I guess this number is total number of species visiting the sanctuary over the period of one year. There were more than 40 species which I could spot in the park and my visit lasted around 5 hours. I shot over 30 species of bird – don’t be alarmed I used my camera to shoot them :P

Great Egret and Terge Taerg – Reflections

Grey-Heron

Mammals of Keoladeo – Posse of Sambhar

As I mentioned earlier words fall short to describe what I actually felt at the moment. Vast stretches of wetlands, pervading calm, eclectic mélange of avifauna, mesmerizing environs, friendly visitors – I must mention the Swedish lady because of whom I was able to capture the picture of Kingfisher – and the bicycle ride in the park was an unforgettable experience.

Our Transportation – Rs 40 for Each Bicycle

We – my friends and I – arrived before sunrise and not surprisingly there were a number of visitors arriving even as we parked our vehicle and almost all of them were from foreign countries – an advantage I guess of being the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the visitors took to bicycles and you will find out shortly that taking the bicycle is the best option to explore the riches of this sanctuary. The park is quite big and it’s almost impossible to cover the whole park on foot. Bicycle not only saves your time considerably, but allows you to stop and shoot – from your camera – as (and when) you like it.

Breathtaking Panorama Early Morning in Park

Wetland Panorama – Charming Landscapes of Sanctuary

Kingfisher Spotted in Bird Sanctuary

As a recent traveler to this bird sanctuary I’ll definitely leave you with a few things to expect at the park. Do take a bicycle or rickshaw at the entry gate. Whereas the old model of cycle costs INR 20, the trendier cycles will cost you INR 40. This time of the season, don’t expect boating. We were told that currently boating option is unavailable. The park is quite big but to have best chances of spotting various birds you should arrive well before dawn. A trip to this national park is a must to do thing if you are a traveler and have interest in birding. From this park we went ahead to visit Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra. An accounting of these two breathtaking destinations will be due :-)

An Abandoned Thatched Cottage inside the Keoladeo National Park

Point of Views – Mammals, Birds and Misty Wetland in Keoladeo

Now for the facts:

Tickets: Rs 200 per foreign visitor and Rs 25 for Indian visitor.

Bicycle charges: Rs 20 for old model hero cycles and Rs 40 for more suave new-gen cycles :-)

Open from: Sunrise till sunset

Mode of transportation inside the park: You can choose to walk, bicycle, or go by cycle rickshaw, Tonga or boat when the water level is high.

Accommodation inside the park: Bharatpur Forest Lodge (16 rooms) and lesser expensive Shanti Kutir

Getting there: The nearest airport is in Agra. Daily flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi and Lucknow are available from Agra. The nearest railway station is Agra (55 kms). Bharatpur is connected with other parts of the nation by roads. There are regular bus services from Delhi (184 kms), Mathura (39 kms), Jaipur (176 kms), Alwar (117 kms) and adjoining areas. Many trains from New Delhi (New Delhi – Mumbai and Agra – Jaipur route) stop at Bharatpur. Bharatpur is easily reached by train or bus, although private taxis from New Delhi or Agra can be employed. The Park gate is close to the bus stand and railway station.

16 Comments

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Thanks for posting this. Great pics and narration. Very soon I will be there.

  • I am certainly inspired to start traveling Nikhil…especially by the first line of the post :)

    • chandra81 says:

      guys and reply like you did make me wanna come back to Ghumakkar. Thanks man its tempting …but there’s only one thing I can’t accept …that is indifference…but then I m just angry and like I am idiosyncratic… so thanks…it definetely is an acheivment to inspire and I m glad.

  • maheh semwal says:

    Very well written Post equally supported with beautiful pictures.

    Even one can hire a Rickshaw also to visit the park. Rickshaw wala’s can be the perfect guide , they are trained by the local forest department.

    Just want to know why you created series for Chamba & Bharatpur.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Excellent text and beautiful photographs. Congratulations!!

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    @ Nikhil , Once again beatiful pics . Also very good write up .

    Sahil

  • Photographs taken by you are very nice. I have visited the park in 2009, may be someday I would write a post of that. Thanks for refreshing the memories.

  • Nandan says:

    Brilliant pics Nikhil.

    It is so close to Delhi but it took me too long to discover this place. We finally made it to the park this winters. And I am going to visit it again, would try to start really early (say 3 AM) from Delhi and catch the sunrise and leave by late afternoon.

    The black borders which is a new change at Ghumakkar is looking good. :-)

    We also went to Deeg.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Nikhil,

    great pics.

    Reminds of my visit in 2009 – cycles were out of circulation then due to some admin problems.

    Though we stayed outside the premises of sanctuary, I would say that stay in the lodge would be most fruitful.

    And your pics could perhaps cover that Swarovski.

    Good post indeed.

    Auro.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Thanks a ton Aurojit for your kind words and liking the photographs.
      Swarovski is it! thats a huge compliment. Will look forward to your encouraging words in future :-)

  • Nandan says:

    Here is a link of a story from Rumjhum. She stayed inside at the Ashoka lodge.
    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/11/08/trip-to-bharatpur-bird-sanctuary/

    On our visit, a large group from JNU seems to have booked the place. We tried in vain to book this place. It was showing as ‘Avail’ on the website. We called them up , just to ensure, and were told that the online system is not showing the right status. We were in general were not too excited as well for the place so didn’t try much.

    Another interesting thing was that a portion was of the park was closed because a tigress from Sariska was traveling :-)

    • Chandra81 says:

      Hey Nandan
      Interesting story. Would have loved to visit that turtle point but we couldn’t. But still we had our fill of good times.
      And that tigress thing…it must be the same cat which was there when we visited and a potion was indeed closed.

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