Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is the first birding location that would come to the mind of a Delhite after visiting the local Bird Sanctuaries in Delhi. Only a few hours away, it is the nearest widespread bird sanctuary for people living in NCR.
A Brief Introduction – Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, presently known as Keoladeo (read Kevaladev- a name of Lord Shiva) National Park, is a man-made birding area. It is a 250 year (approx) old sanctuary which earlier existed as a royal Hunting site. It was established as a National Park in March 1982. Also, UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in December 1985.
Existence of all the forest, grassland and wetland areas inside the sanctuary make it a perfect habitat for a variety of species including birds and animals. A home to more than 366 birds species (of which around 230 are residents), Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary claims to be one of the best bird sites in the world. During winters, it is home to various residents, local migrants, and migratory birds coming from places like Siberia and Central Asian Countries.
The sanctuary is located in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. The distance of Bharatpur bird sanctuary from Delhi is around 202 km if going by Taj Expressway and around 185 km away via NH19/NH44. Both buses and trains well connect Bharatpur to Delhi and other nearby major cities (like Agra and Jaipur). Bharatpur Bird sanctuary is located less than two km away from the bus stand and around six km from the railway station. Since it’s a small city, travelling and accessing one part from the other is not a problem.
Common Birds found at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Common local or resident birds include a variety of Kingfishers, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Bulbuls, Storks, Cranes, Eagles, Vultures, Rollers, Prinias, and Warblers and so on. Some of the local migrants are Ruddy Shelduck, Common Moorhen, Long-tailed Shrike, Purple Swamphen, Black-capped Kingfisher, Plum-headed Parakeet, European Roller, Ferruginous Pochard, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Yellow Bittern and many more. Few famous migratory birds are Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, Common Coot, Common Pochard, Common Crane, and Sociable Lapwing.
Read about Birds at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
You may not find any specific book on birds found at Bharatpur bird sanctuary. The books either talk about birds of Rajasthan or of India. One such book is called ‘Collins Field Guide: BIRDS OF INDIA’ written by Norman Arlott. With visual illustrations, this book talks about the family, nature, and characteristics of birds found in India. I recommend this book to my readers to gain familiarity with their favourite creatures.
Majority of the books written on Indian Birds are in English. However, you can read about birds found at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Hindi in the books written by Dr. Mohanlal Gupta. Hindi Edition of his book ‘Birds of Rajasthan’ (Rajasthan ke Pakshi) is available online. ‘The Book of Indian Birds’ (Bharat ke Pakshi), written by Salim Ali and translated by Gayatri Ugra, may also be helpful if you are really interested to know about birds found at Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Hindi. The book covers all the Indian birds including those found in Rajasthan and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
Flora and Fauna
Primarily filled with trees of Jamun, Babool, Ber, Kadamb and many small shrubs, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is also a home to many wild animals like Deer (Chital and Sambhar), Jackal, Jungle cat, Wild Boar and Domestic or Asian Antelopes (Nilgai). You can also spot snakes, turtles, and butterflies in the park. So, you can see a complete ecosystem.
When to visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary opens at 6:30 in the morning and closes at 5:00 in the evening. However, it is better to go there in the morning hours when the sun is not very hot. Moreover, these flying species follow a routine where they keep on moving from one place to the other. Therefore, mornings are a better time to spot various varieties of birds. One can visit the sanctuary anytime during the months of August to November to spot local resident birds. In addition to that, one can spot migratory birds during the months of October to February. I would suggest you go anytime between the third week of December to the second week of February in order to spot maximum species.
How to access the Sanctuary
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is spread across 29 square kilometres of land. You can visit it by Bicycle, Battery Rickshaws, Horse Carts (Tangas) or by foot. You cannot take personal vehicles inside the sanctuary. I would suggest one walk if one can, as it would allow you to enjoy the surroundings better. Total walking distance inside Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is approximately 11-12 km. The straight roads taking you close to nature also make this trail a perfect trekking experience.
Tickets and Fees
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary entrance fee is Rs.75 per person, with an extra camera fee (for still, videography and so on). Dedicated guides are available at a fee of Rs.250 per hour, however, rickshaw drivers are also very well aware of various species of birds, animals, and trees. You have to also pay for the kind of conveyance you choose for visiting the sanctuary (for the cycle, battery rickshaw or Tanga). You can also buy books and souvenirs (e.g. T-shirts, postcards, fridge magnets etc.) from the shop located right at the entrance of the sanctuary.
Other Places to Visit Near Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Apart from the famous forts, palaces, and museums like Lohagarh Fort, Deeg Water Palace, Government Museum and recently built adventure park, I would suggest my readers ensure a visit to the Laxman Temple, Ganga Temple, and Ukha Mosque. In the year 1845, King Balwant Singh built the latter two. These structures are very good examples of stone engravings.
While you can see snake motives in Laxman temple, Ganga temple has engravings of Gods and Goddesses and Ukha Mosque has flowers and petals. Moreover, you must visit the famous Bihari temple to get an essence of a community life in Bharatpur. If you like, explore the local market; it is very different from mall culture of the cities.
A half an hour drive (22.5 km) on NH21 from Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary will take you to Fatehpur Sikri. This city was developed by Mughal Emperor Akbar during the 16th Century. You can visit some famous structures like Buland Darwaza, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Jama Masjid and Jodha Bai’s Palace in Fatehpur Sikri. Tajmahal is also not very far from here; plan accordingly.
Plan Your Visit
Famous among its spectators, this site captures a lot of attention, especially during winters. People call it a bird lover’s Paradise and there is no reason it should not be called so. Presence of wild animals and other species make it a perfect natural habitat. During the visit, one feels a part of it and that’s the most you would expect from a national park.
My visit to this sanctuary brought me close to more species of local resident birds. It is an extremely important and exciting site for the bird lovers. Therefore, I strongly recommend you to visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
I have tried to give you all the basic details about Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Please ask me if there are any queries and inhibitions. Do visit the sanctuary soon and share your experiences and learning with us.