The Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is strategically located just 7 kms away from the town of Bharatpur. This renowned park is spread over an area of 29 sq. kms of marshy land and is the nesting ground of hundreds of varieties of birds, including certain migratory birds which are on the verge of extinction.
History reveals that in the year 1938, attracted by the huge diversity of birds, Lord Linlithgo along with his entourage hunted a staggering 4273 birds in one single day.
In the days of yore, this sanctuary used to serve as the Maharaja’s hunting ground. Although it was declared as a National Park in the year 1981, conservation activities at this renowned bird sanctuary was initiated way back in 1964 when India’s numero uno birdman – Salim Ali took the initiative to stop bird hunting.
Inside the sanctuary, there is a lake which is where the birds can be seen frolicking in the waters. On a conservative estimate, 360 species of birds have been identified at the sanctuary. The Siberian Swans, the Fish Mongers, Storks, Dahuk, Sonajanga, Shamukkhol, White Crow, Red Crow, Pelicans and many types of sea birds are all very conspicuous by their presence. As far as Swans are concerned, nearby 80 varieties of them have been identified.
Winter is the best time to visit this sanctuary and one can marvel at the birds which come all the way from Siberia, Tibet, Afghanistan and China to take shelter inside the sanctuary for breeding. Apart from birds of other countries, nearly 120 species of wandering Indian birds too can be spotted at Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary.
Although Keoladeo is famous for birds and has been rightly been designated as a bird watcher’s mecca, certain animal species like Indian Black Deer, Chittal, Nilgai, Wild Bears and Panthers too live here.
The best time for bird watching is either during sunrise or during sunset. Boating facilities are available at the lake and one can really go up close to the birds and watch them frolicking with gay abandon.
Apart from bird-watching at Keoladeo, one may also visit the adjoining town of Bharatpur. There is the Lanhagarh fort and the Ayar Maharaja’s palace. There is also a museum which has many types of arms and weapons, Arabic and Sanskrit manuscripts along with manuscripts belonging to the Kushan period. Other places worth visiting are the Lachmanji-Ka Mandir, Ganga Temple, the Nehru Park and Ganchi Park. Time permitting a visit to the 1905 built Golbagh Palace in the outskirts of Bharatpur can be a very rewarding experience.