You know when you’ve been sitting at home for too long and have had enough, and need to hit the road, like stat? And then you quickly pick a destination and leave in a matter of hours to unwind and relax? Yeah, that happened with me too, just that I hadn’t been home for too long- in fact, I wasn’t home at all- when I decided that I felt like taking a road trip to Agra. I was in Jammu on an assignment with Jammu Tourism Department when I suddenly felt the urge to see the Taj Mahal so Abbimnyou and I decided that’s exactly what we will do, once I’m back from the land of the Dogras. I reached home, within a few hours I unpacked, repacked and took a shower and before I knew it I was riding pillion on a Thunderbird 500 cutting through the wind on the Yamuna Expressway, on my way to the Taj Mahal. Little did we know, we would end up at the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, before even getting a glimpse of the Taj!
Also known as Keoladeo National Park, this UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site is located in Bharatpur, Rajasthan just about 50 kilometres from Agra, and about 200 kilometres from Delhi. Home to more than 200 species of resident birds and over 300 species of migratory birds, we were in luck that we were in Agra in the month of February when these migratory species flock from all parts of the world- including Southern India- to winter in this wonderland. This National Park is mostly accredited to Dr. Salim Ali also known as the Bird Man of India, under whose research this sanctuary was developed. He is said to have stood in front of the gun of Maharaja Suraj Mal, the ruler of Bharatpur, on one of his hunting sprees to stop him from killing the birds. The Indian Grey Hornbill was Dr. Salim Ali’s favourite bird. When the female lays eggs inside a hole in the tree trunk, the male closes the hole with mud leaving just enough space for the male to feed the female through the beaks!
The proximity of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary to Delhi and Jaipur makes it for the perfect place to spend a weekend at, especially during the winter months. The most convenient way to reach this park is by driving down from Delhi, Agra or Jaipur (185 kilometres away).
One can even take a bus/ train from Delhi to Agra and then hire a taxi to go till the Bird Sanctuary.
places to stay in keoladeo national park
There are a number of hotels around the vicinity of the National Park where one can spend the night. The Government of Rajasthan and the Forest Department also run lodges inside the Park where one can book accommodation online.
Pro tip: Spend at least one night and two full days here to be able to enjoy the Park at its best. We were there for 6 hours and could not even cover half of it!
If you plan to make a day trip to the Park, you can book a stay at one of the hostels in Agra. They’re inexpensive and comfortable. I recommend Zigzag Hostel, Agra.
birds at bharatpur bird sanctuary
bharatpur bird sanctuary- tips and faqs
- The timings for the Keoladeo National Park are 6 am to 6 pm (summers) and 6:30 am to 5 pm (winters). The nest time to visit is early morning and late afternoon.
- The entry fee for Indians is INR 75 and INR 500 for foreigners.
- There is no charge for a DSLR but for video cameras, the charge is INR 600
- Visitors are allowed to commute by foot, bicycles, cycle rickshaws, tongas, or battery operated vehicles.
- Guides are available at an hourly rate at the ticket window, but your rickshaw puller/ tonga driver will have equally detailed knowledge of these birds.
- All tongas/ rickshaws/ battery vehicles carry a cardboard box as a dustbin. Please use these and do not litter in any case.
- Carry enough water with you. There are water coolers at several intervals for refilling. There are a few canteens located within the park too that serve basics like chips, biscuits and juices.
- Do not talk loudly, especially when travelling in a big group. You might disturb the birds and animals since they have a keen sense of hearing.
Pro tip: If you are a student, carry your school/ college ID card to get the tickets at INR 20!
Note: Most facts included in this post were written after what our rickshaw puller and guide, Sia Ram Ji told us. He is a kind old man with an immense knowledge of and love for birds. If you ever visit the Sanctuary, you may contact him at (+91) 96105 68328.
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