Just 176 km. from Delhi is a very special wilderness - the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the finest water-bird sanctuaries in the world. The 28.73 sq. km. lake and wetland was artificially created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the 19th century.
By building small dykes and dams and diverting water from an irrigation canal, he converted this low lying area into a fine wild fowl shooting preserve. In a few years, the new wetland surrounded by marginal forests was able to support thousands of water birds.
Commonly referred to as Bharatpur, the Park is a delight for bird watchers. Over 300 species of birds are found here and raised paths, camouflaged by babul trees and undergrowth make viewing easy. A quiet ride by boat in the early hours of the morning is also an unforgettable experience. There are mixed heronries on the half submerged babul trees and the cacophony is unbelievable as painted storks, open bills, spoon bills, egrets, cormorants, white ibis and multitudes of others, tend their young. Jacanas with their iridescent colors and elegant tail feathers and purple moorhen can be seen delicately treading over the floating vegetation. While harriers and fishing eagles circle overhead in search of prey, the pied kingfisher hovers dramatically over the water in a flurry of wings.
There are varieties of storks and cranes and the local sarus crane is elegant in a livery of grey and red. Every year Bharatpur waits with coated breath for the arrival of the Siberian cranes.
There are only two wintering places for this rare species -one in Iran and the other Bharatpur and these beautiful birds with their distinctive red beaks and facial patches, fly over 6400 km from their summer retreats in Siberia, to get to them. In 1996, there was great jubilation as a couple of Siberian cranes with a young one made an appearance in Bharatpur after a lapse of three years.
The forests around the lake at Bharatpur harbor the sambar, chital, nilgai, jackal, hyena, fox, mongoose and porcupine. Occasionally, a fishing cat can be seen scooping its prey also commonly seen sunning themselves along edge of the paths or at Python Point.
Best Time to Visit: Throughout the Year.
Nearest Town: Bharatpur (2 km)
Air: Agra (50 km)
Rail: Bharatpur (2 km)