Unfolding a Nature Park – Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary!
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An avid lover of roaming around in safari’s, capturing the wildlife in its natural /wild form has always been a passion to me.
Pampering this passion, was a short visit to admire the amazing “Avians” of this earth.
Also known as “Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary”, this Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or Nature park is a “ World Heritage site” under world Heritage convention ,declared in 1985.
Why is it special?
It stands out from other bird sanctuaries due to its flourishing avifauna, with some 360 bird species of which it is said that close to 200 species are residents & rest are migratory.
Apart from this ,the patches of wetlands & marshy areas here also attracts fishes, other amphibians, turtles & the sandy patches attracts some 4-5 species of lizards & close to 10 snake species (even Python), cattle , deers, antelopes, Blue Bull (Nilgai), wild boars , jackals, Monkeys. It indeed is very rich in its fauna population & specially the lovely sightings of numerous birds.
Apart from fauna, It is a place with some good medicinal plants & the morning fresh air does have great healing property. It is a sort of deciduous forest with grasslands , some managed marshy areas dominated with ample shrubs and mix of trees.
Reasons to visit Keoladeo/ Bharatpur sanctuary:
1) Walk hand in hand or why not try a bicycle ride after years ? So, be ready to explore the beauty of the Nature park encapsulating both dry & marshy land by foot or by cycle. The path in itself makes you fall in love with the serenity of nature & cycling after lots of years will bring back the adventure in your life.
2) Explore the beautiful sunrise & the magnificent sunset amongst the flying birds – Well, the serenity one can explore here is abundant, every corner, every tree reflects nature unfolding its arms which brings a sense of tranquility.
3) Wake up by the chirping birds, listening to the beautiful songs of nature definitely brings a smile for an upcoming mesmerising day.
4) Ideal place for the Photographers & Bird lovers to explore, admire, capture the majestic park.
Avian Wildlife in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary:
Let’s first get a gist of the amazing birds I encountered (yes, one cannot view all 360 species, as we were informed by the guide that this season there have been close to 180 birds only & out of which we were lucky to spot close to 40-50 of them)
So the charm of the tweeting birds made me take 3 rounds of this park in 2 days, of 2:30-3hrs duration.
Although the stretch is not that long, but then you just cant stop admiring the beauty that every stretch of the land gives.
Spots to keep an eye on:
A) Beginning of the park gives lovely sunrise point, which should be a must watch to adore the amazing sun popping out & giving the avians much needed warmth.
This area is dry which is occupied with Pea-fowls or Peacocks, wild boars, jackals and lots of land birds as Quails, Owls, the gorgeous sunbird, laughing dove, warblers, babblers, bulbul’s, Grey hornbill, some species of eagles, parakeets, Nightjars, Baya weaver, Common Iora, Minivet, Magpie Robin and many more which either I couldn’t spot/recall:)
Just before the second entrance, or the major entrance of the National Park, is a left lane wherein we encountered Wild Boar, Jackal ,owls.
We had a mesmerising experience when a huge wild boar ran across the road cutting us just few meters away on a great speed which took us by astonishment & left us thrilled. The same area made us familiar with two jackal’s playing & cuddling with each other.
And the most amazing part was our wish to say “Hi” to “owls” & yes we were greeted by not just one ,but 5 Spotted Owls on one “Kadamb Tree” , three side by side & rest 2 on nearby branch ! Believe me or not, that was indeed INCREDIBLE!
B) Second entry to the park : Little Inside the Park one can be greeted with huge Monkey’s or langurs, scaffolding in the grassland or climbing down the branches or sitting on the side of the trail. Be cautious to capture them, can be gone in fractions!
C) The onset of marshy areas is worth praises , the beauty binds itself & that is the area where you may encounter shiny blue coloured “Common Kingfisher”, sitting on the of the branches & will definitely pose for you for longer durations! We were blessed to capture as many as 5 kingfishers on different branches to capture their beauty.
D) The wetlands pose for numerous water fowls, large flocks of ducks as Northern Pintail (with their name deriving from the pointed tail of the males), dabbling duck – Gadwal, Northern Shoveler (significant coloured male), Mallard, Small water birds as “Coots”(having black plumage), common teal and few others. It demands sitting & watching the swarms of these ducks & water birds to be pleased of the water trails they make or looking at their diving skills:)
E) As you move ahead , you get welcomed by variety of other water birds as Grey/ purple heron, Grey Cormorants drying of their huge wing spreads, white spoonbills, open – billed storks, Ibis, darter (also called snake bird due to their thin & long neck having snake like appearance), purple swamphen (in the grassland, extremely beautiful due to their purple bluish feathers & red bills and front shields), Sarus Cranes, Great and Little Egret .
F) Painted Stork Colony , a great attraction of this park, where hundreds of painted & open billed storks have a form of colony. One can se some storks resting on their huge nests , some feeding their young ones & some competing to catch their prey. This area is so mesmerising, I bet you’ll capture lots & lots of shots with so many different angles being posed upon.
G) Their lies a trail wherein the rickshaw’s don’t go, before the watch tower, which is a beautiful trail, the red algae in the wetland gives such a pretty look to this walkable path . Also this trail is famous for capturing pelicans, Black headed Ibis, herons, night heron, purple moorhen & yes we did spot the gorgeous Black bittern with fish in its long beak in the bushes around the marshy land (was very difficult to capture since it was in the bushes & it just flew when we came closer to capture)
H) Post that the road ends up on the Watch tower, climbing which one can have a holistic view of the national park, also there stands a small temple to be worshipped.
Travel inside the Sanctuary:
Be thrilled to know that it is a “No pollution zone”, no vehicles are allowed inside the sanctuary so the options available are
1) Cycle Rickshaws : Best & cheap , as usually the rickshaw riders themselves are partly guides (with them having to attend the workshops & clear the examinations) & may take your knowledge for a toss when they show you some of the most exciting birds , with the typical names & explain you their origin countries & habits:). Entry of Cycle rickshaw costs you Rs100/- for an hour & basis your duration of exploration, the amount sums up.
2) Bicycle : If you have some great knowledge of birds & enjoy self time with nature, hiring cycles for as cheap as Rs25/- for 5 hours is the best option. It will be a mix of adventure and exercising with the incredible nature.
3) Tonga: Horse Tonga’s are also available at Rs150/hour & you can hire them with a guide incase the complete family of 4-5 wish to be seated on one horse tonga.
4) Foot : That’s the best way to explore, walk down the beautiful trails all by yourself /with guide & explore the nature park as you want to. Walk, explore, capture, wait for the perfect shot, have snacks & move by your will!
5) Eco- rickshaw: They are also available to hire for 5-8people family along with a guide.
Independent guides are always available at the park entry and they charge close to Rs250/-
Best time to visit :
Duration of October – March is the best for Bird lovers & Ornithologists, as the winters peak in by November ,it marks the park with the onset of Migratory birds some of which migrate here crossing long stretches across the globe as Siberia, Egypt, China & many other parts of Asia/globe.
The mornings & evenings are pretty cool during this duration while afternoons are warmer with 22-26 degree being the most optimum.
January being the coldest of all (January has many low sunny days , which may not be good for capturing these amazing ones) may need more of time & extended visit to the park to see its complete glory.
Due to its perfect weather in these months , it attracts numerous bird lovers from across the globe .
Difficult to pen down, it all depends on the interests :
For Bird lovers/ Photographers : Its indefinite time ,unless you get/capture what you need! People stay here for weeks/months to get what they want!
For Safari lovers /students : People who enjoy sanctuaries /birds for fun , can have a 2 day short trip here & can have 2 rounds of visit to the park a day.
Keoladeo or Bharatpur Bird sanctuary is located just 10min from the city’s heart and close to 5kms from Bharatpur Railway station. One can reach here by various modes :
Train: Bharatpur is well connected with most of the major cities nearby as Delhi, Agra, Jaipur. In fact a visit to Agra can always be extended to Bharatpur bird sanctuary ,as the road distance between Agra & Bharatpur is just 55kms.
Delhi: It can be an easy road trip from Delhi, which is appx.180kms from this national park (which takes close to 3.5hrs with a great start from Yamuna Expressway).
Agra: Bharatpur national park is just 55Kms from Agra, easily accessible via road (an hour’s drive)
Jaipur (A great tourist destination of Rajasthan to experience Royalty with the modernity), is also close to 185Kms from Bharatpur National park (close to 3.5hrs)
Air: Nearest Airport is again Agra, just 56Kms from the sanctuary/national park. Rest one can fly to Jaipur/Delhi/Agra & take rest of the route by Train/by road.
Where to stay:
There are numerous accommodations, mostly with the lovely bird names and all within the walking reach of the Bird sanctuary, as Hotel Sunbird, Chandra Mahal Haveli, Spoonbill . A small research on the common travel sites may give you good options.
If you are interested to stay inside the park ,the Forest lodge -Hotel Bharatpur Ashok is a good option (That’s where we stayed), although it is close to 2kms inside the main park entry gate ,but is few meters before the actual entry of the park. The Hotel is not brand new but will definitely give one a comfortable stay.
Any vehicle entry (Rickshaw/tonga/cars till Hotel Bharatpur Ashok)will be charged Rs100 and one time entry inside the Nature park will be costing one Rs75/- only per person
Important points inside sanctuary:
- Do not disturb the eco-balance of the fauna by disturbing them, adore them but do not obstruct/try to harm them.
- Maintain the cleanliness of the park
- Do not shout loud as it might distract the fauna.
- Do not feed anything to the ducks/birds
Other places of Interest in Bharatpur
Lohagarh Fort – Iron Fort depicting the strength
Bharatpur palace – A blend of Mughal & Rajput architecture
Deeg palace/ Deeg Jal Mahal (32Kms from Bharatpur) – a splendid palace surrounded by beautiful lakes.
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