About Bharatpur National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site regarded as one of the world's most important bird sanctuaries, Keoladeo Ghana derives its name from Shiva temple (Keoladeo) within a dense forest (Ghana). This once-arid scrubland was first developed by Bharatpur's rulers in the mid-18th century by diverting the waters of a nearby irrigation canals to create a private duck reserve. Extravagant shooting for British viceroys and other royal guests were held here, and horrifying numbers of birds were shot in a single day.
Today, the park spreads over 29 sq km (11 sq miles) of wetlands, and attracts a wide variety of migrant and water birds that fly in each winter from places as distant as Siberia. Keoladeo's dry area has mixed deciduous and scrub vegetation and is home to many animals, including the famed nilgai.
When to visit
The park is open all year. August to October are the peak months for breeding and October to late February for wintering migrants. However, whatever time of the year you go, there will always be interesting birds to see.
The best way to see diverse species of birds and animals is to make trips at different times of the day. Wake up with the birds in the early mornings, see water birds in daylights and catch night birds such as owls after sunset. Bird watching may mean long waits, so factor it in, and meanwhile, turn the pages of a good birdwatchers' guide such as Salim Ali's Birds of Bharatpur – a Checklist.
Most places to stay are along Dr Salim Ali Road, which runs from Bharatpur Town to the entrance of the park.
Nearest airport is Agra (64 km/1.5 hrs).
Nearest railhead is Bharatpur Junction (4.5 km/20 min). A very convenient option if you are visiting from Delhi. The Frontier Mail and the Kota Janshatabdi are both good options from Delhi, especially in the monsoon when the Delhi-Agra Expressway can be in a bad shape. There are also rails links with Sawai Madhopur. Hotels will arrange to pick you up from the station; there are cycle-rickshaws at the station too. But beware of the local scooter rickshaws, which have zero suspension and are powered by noisy and polluting engines meant to be used for generators.
Bharatpur is 186 km from Delhi on the Agra Highway via Mathura. It makes a natural extension to a trip to Agra and Fatehpur Sikri; there is also a good link road from Jaipur. Tour buses operate from these places to the park.