Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) was always on my mind after I read about it in one of the travel magazines. With more than 200 species of birds and a number of migratory visitors in the winter months, this is designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We got our booking for Club Mahindra, Kumbhalgarh and decided to take in Bharatpur as well. Though the distance between Kumbhalgarh and Bharatpur is around 400km, it is a easy overnight journey by Mewar express from Bharatpur to Udaipur. Kumbhalgarh is around 90km from Udaipur.
We stayed at the Bharatpur Ashok Lodge. Check out the review here.
The park is a paradise for bird watchers. Even for a nature lover this is great. No vehicles allowed inside the park. You can get either walk, take a cycle richshaw or hire a cycle to go around the park. Cycle-rickshaw drivers charge around Rs. 70/- an hour. Cycles are available for Rs. 50/- per day. You can also opt for guides at the ticket counter. They charge around Rs. 150/- per hour.
We went around using the cycle-rickshaw. We found our drivers to be very knowledgeable. They told us that they had training from the forest department for bird identification. They seemed to know the english names of the birds that we saw, which was impressive. I havent done sufficient study of the birds to be able to identify them and hence wasn't able to check on the accuracy of the names provided :) .
This park was a popular hunting ground for the local Rajas. One can see a wall in the park which notes the date and the amount of hunting done. This area was converted into a sanctuary, thanks to the efforts of the noted ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali.
Though the park is the star attraction of Bharatpur, do plan a visit to the Deeg Palace as well. This is around 35 kms from Bharatpur. The palace is in a good condition. Do opt for a guide. We were told some great stories of the erstwhile princely state.
The Bharatpur palace is also in good condition and has been converted in to a museum. When we went there, renovation work was underway. Would recommend a view of the city from the terrace top of the palace.
Our itinerary for Bharatpur
Day 1: Start from Mathura. Visit Govardhan. Reach Bharatpur Ashok Hotel. Take lunch and start birding
Day 2: Morning and afternoon tours into the Park. Lunch at hotel. Visit the information gallery in the evening
Day 3: Early morning tour into the Park. Return for Breakfast. Start for Deeg Palace. After site seeing return to Bharatpur. Visit Bharatpur palace. Return to hotel. After dinner, proceed to Bharatpur station for the Mewar express to Udaipur.
More photos below...