The Keoladeo Ghana National Park popularly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a famous avifauna sanctuary and is one of the most important breeding and feeding grounds for migratory birds in Asia. It is a man-made and man-managed wetland that plays host to thousands of birds especially during the cool winter season/months. The park derives its name from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, and ‘ghana’ which locally means dense, implying the nature of the vegetation. The Sanctuary is famous as one of Asia’s finest birding areas, as it is known for nesting of its resident birds and migrant species which includes the Common, Demoiselle and the rare Siberian Cranes. The rare Siberian cranes used to winter in this park but this central population of Siberian cranes is now extinct. Walking and cycling along raised embankments offers a unique opportunity to get closer to the rich birding tours.

While many of India’s parks have been developed from the hunting preserves of princely India, Keoladeo Wildlife Sanctuary is perhaps the only case where the habitat has been created by a maharaja. In earlier times, Bharatpur town used to be flooded regularly every monsoon, so an earthen dam was constructed in order to save the town. But later the depression created by extraction of soil for the dam was cleared; hence this became the Bharatpur Lake and the hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. The reserve protects Bharatpur from frequent floods and provides grazing grounds for village cattle. Many people choose a cycle rickshaw, which has the added advantage of providing a local bird expert. The major attractions of tourists visiting the park are the numerous migratory birds, which come from as far away as Central Asia and spend their winters in Bharatpur, before returning to their breeding grounds.

Flora, Fauna & Avifauna

  • The term ‘Ghana’ means dense, referring to the thick forest, used to cover the area. The principal vegetation types are tropical dry deciduous trees, intermixed with dry grassland in areas where forest has been tainted. The north east area of the park is mostly dominated by jamun, babul and kadam.
  • Bharatpur is located on the fringes of Thar Desert. Nesting indigenous migratory water birds as well as waterside birds, this sanctuary is also inhabited by Chital, Mongoose, Civets, Golden Jackal, Striped Hyena, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Blackbuck and Wild Boar. Food sources vary from plankton to plants, fish, and amphibians.
  • Harbouring over 350 bird species, it is possible to see 150 species in a day and atleast 10 species nesting in a single tree. Migratory birds at Bharatpur bird sanctuary include Painted Storks, Ibises, Spoonbills, Jacanas, Cormorants, together with terrestrials including a variety of Babblers, Wagtails, Warblers, Wheatears and Bee-Eaters.
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