Bharatpur is the bird city in the far eastern part of Rajasthan state in India. The city does have other historic sites but it’s importantly known for the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary. The city also organizes Brij festival every year just before “Holi” the festival of colors. Since it falls between the India golden triangle (Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra), it can be easily visited by travelers. It lies 50 kilometers to the west of Agra and the best time to visit is October to February when there are a lot of migratory birds.
This man made sanctuary was created 250 years ago, named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. Initially, it was a natural depression and was flooded after the dam was constructed by the ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur between 1726 to 1763. The dam was created at the confluence of two rivers, the Gambhir and Banganga. The park was a hunting ground for the kings of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organized 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 Governor-General of India. Later in 1971 it was declared a protected sanctuary and is also a World Heritage Site. Now it’s one of the world's best known bird feeding and breeding grounds.
Every year thousands of migratory waterfowl from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia visit the park for wintering and breeding. This former hunting ground of Kings is now one of the richest bird areas in the world and is known for nesting of resident birds and visiting migratory birds including water birds and the rare Siberian Crane. The reserve is 29 km2 (11 sq. mi) and is locally known as Ghana and is a mosaic of dry grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps and wetlands. It consists of an artificially created flat patchwork of marshes in the Gangetic plain which is maintained by a system of canals, sluices and dykes. By the means of artificial dam the water is fed into the marshes from the flooding rivers.
The National Park boasts as many as 364 breeds of birds, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, five species of lizards, seven amphibian species, seven turtle species and a variety of other invertebrates. Species that can be seen here include ruddy shelducks, gulls, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Painted Cranes, kingfishers, northern shovelers, northern pintails, coots, garganey, tufted ducks and common pochard. You can say it is a paradise for bird watching and nature photography. The Park provides an opportunity to birders to watch birds from close proximity. Listen to the sweet chirping of birds, feel the cool breeze and rejuvenate.
- Lohagarh Fort