Don’t you just love impromptu plans? Where you just get up and go somewhere on a whim? That’s what happened to me a while back and guess where I found myself enroute to, at 2 pm one afternoon? Keoladeo Ghana National Park, popularly called Bharatpur National Park!
I’ve always wanted to visit a bird park but it had never worked out so far. But, this last weekend and once the idea struck, we just threw in some goodies to munch on the way and left.
To our dismay, the weather turned out to be pretty harsh and the ride wasn’t a pleasant one. As we were about to reach, it began to rain. We made it to Bharatpur at 7 in the evening nonetheless and sought accommodation immediately. We checked in and stretched ourselves overnight, and then next morning, visited the park.
Bharatpur is well connected by road with Jaipur (176-kms, 3 hours), Agra (56-kms, 1 hour), and Delhi (184-kms, 4 hours). You can rent a private vehicle from Delhi, Agra, Mathura, or Jaipur to reach Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Even there are regular bus services and trains that operate from major cities to Bharatpur.
The nearest airport to reach Bharatpur is Agra that is about 56kms. Other than that, one can also reach Bharatpur by train as Bharatpur Junction is just 5kms away from the national park.
An eclectic blend of history and cultural heritage welcomes you as soon as you reach Bharatpur. (Suggested Read: A Visit to Taj Mahal)
We took the Yamuna expressway from Delhi to reach Bharatpur. I must mention that the road between Mathura and Bharatpur was in pretty bad condition and it took us pretty long to finally reach our destination, especially due to bad weather conditions. There’s just one toll in between when taking the Yamuna highway that costs 275INR | 4USD.
It got pretty late by the time we finally reached Bharatpur. But what was worse was the rain, which became pretty intense with the passing time, thus making it difficult for us to find the right accommodation. There were numerous hotels and motels along the entire Bharatpur stretch, a few of which we did check. Sadly, some of them were in pretty bad condition, including this particular inn called Park Regency (per night charges were 1200INR | 17.79USD) which looked really depressing from both the outside and the inside.
Sadly, some of them were in pretty bad condition, including this particular inn called Park Regency (per night charges were 1200INR | 17.79USD) which looked really depressing from both the outside and the inside.
We thought of giving a try to the famous Bharatpur Ashok Hotel that was situated inside the Keoladeo Ghana National Park to spend the night, but the hotel was already sold out. Finally, we found a somewhat nice hotel, Sunbird which had clean and spacious rooms. We found a lot of cats doing their rounds outside the rooms, somewhat guarding the hotel. But still, it was way better than the other hotels we found along the entire stretch. The cost for a night in their deluxe category cost us 2000INR | 29.65USD. We were glad we didn’t book it in advance.
We found a lot of cats doing their rounds outside the rooms, somewhat guarding the hotel. But still, it was way better than the other hotels we found along the entire stretch. The cost for a night in their deluxe category cost us 2000INR | 29.65USD. We were glad we didn’t book it in advance.
What I really liked about the Sunbird hotel was its serene location near the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, which was just a 5-minute walk away from the hotel.
The rooms were well-equipped with all the amenities one could require. Even the backyard of the hotel was beautiful with tall, green trees covering the entire area.
There was a covered sitting gazebo in the garden area of wood, which definitely was a cherry on the cake.
What I didn’t like about the Sunbird hotel was the food, which was not upto the mark. We ordered Dal makhani, which had lemon added to it, much to our dismay. They had Wi-Fi but the signals didn’t really make to our room. Other than that, everything was absolutely fine.
Early morning, we woke up and got ready, all set for our birding experience. Keoladeo Ghana National Park, India’s best bird sanctuary is a 28.7 sq.km park, with a mix of dry land, scrubs, and marshland.
It is a home to more than 400 bird species and one can enjoy the stunning sights of the natural beauty of the park. Take pictures while you spot the variety of colorful exotic bird species. Appreciate the beauty of nature and add the gorgeous sights to your travel memories.
All those visiting India for birding should definitely add Keoladeo Ghana National Park to their list. The paved walkways, cycling tracks, and easy reach to an abundance of bird species will definitely make for a lovely morning. It will take hours to be able to explore the entire park, though it is a little tough to cover it completely in one go.
We opted for rickshaw puller to take us on our own private tour of the park, and the person driving the rickshaw was a happy-go-lucky one. He had good knowledge about the various bird species in the park and made sure that we were able to locate and click pictures of all the cute, distinct birds in an easy manner.
Birds taking flight (if only light was better – our only gripe)
While a lot of people would jump at the opportunity to cycle and explore the park, but taking a rickshaw (100INR per hour) or a Tonga is still preferable. Next time maybe, we’ll try and explore the park on a cycle.
Some of the prominent bird species we were able to explore on our visit to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary included the Ducks, Rabbits, Pelicans, Hawks, Warblers, Grey Herons, Shanks, Flycatchers, Peacocks, Owls, Nightingales, Babbler, Eagles, Wagtails, Pipits, etc. The high point of the park was the nesting colony of birds, where hundreds of different bird species live together. It is definitely fun capturing those beauties in one frame together.
While partaking in birding in Keoladeo Ghana National Park, it is significant for you to follow a few rules so that the furry friends don’t get disturbed. Here’s the list of things you do and don’t do in the park.
Dress Right: It is best to wear neutral colors when visiting the Bharatpur Sanctuary, preferably green and earth tones. If the weather is warm/hot, opt for light, comfy cotton clothes; woolens for cold weather; and appropriate rain gear if it’s wet season. We missed out on carrying binoculars, which we realized later, but it is a must for all birders. If you are unsure about the weather, wear clothes in layers.
Make sure you do not wear loud colors or bold prints as that can draw the attention of birds and animals in the park, thus disturbing them, and making it difficult for you to film them.
Don’t Get Impatient: If you want to capture the best pictures in any seasons, it is important for you to remain calm and composed. Unnecessary excitement or enthusiasm will distract them away.
What You Must Carry: Packing for bird sanctuary needs to be done smartly. You cannot pack everything; just stick to essentials. Refrain from packing stuff that you just don’t need. Apart from that, you must carry sunglasses, hat, and a good sunscreen to avoid sunburns. It’s indeed best to wear comfortable shoes with socks to explore the Keoladeo National Park.
Keep Your Camera Ready: You are not visiting Keoladeo Ghana National Park every second day and that is why it is important to click some nice photographs of the flora and fauna of the bird sanctuary.
Other Items: You can also carry raincoats (which really came in handy for us as it rained), bandaids, a water bottle and antiseptic creams to the National Park.
Stay Away From Littering: The National Park is a home to birds so all those who want to observe them closely should come here. Just as you would not litter your own home, make sure you do not litter your garbage in their home.
Don’t Go Too Close: There are many animals in the park as well so you must not try to get too friendly with them. Maintain your distance as unnecessary closeness might either scare them or draw their attention towards you.
Talk Softly: The Keoladeo Ghana National Park is definitely a good place to engage in long conversations. Whether you are there for photography or not, keep your tone lower and talk softly.
Do Not Agitate: Never forget that you are in the park for exploring the birds, while they are residing in their shelter. Don’t think about pelting stones at them or doing unnecessary antics that draw their attention.
Located on the fringes of Thar Desert, the bird sanctuary is open throughout the year. But when I asked about the ideal time to visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park from the local guide, he told me that January is perhaps the month when birds can be captured in their full glory. During summers (May and June) as the temperatures can reach 48 °C, it is best to avoid visiting at that time. October- February are the months meant for gawking at the migratory birds, while August-November is ideal for capturing the resident bird species.
Entry ticket for Indians: 75INR | 1.1USD
Entry ticket for foreigners: 200INR | 3USD
You can also watch our short video on the visit to Keoladeo Ghana National Park:
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