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November 2013

Bharatpur in Rajasthan, India
History – Bharatpur is actually the former name of the bird sanctuary. At present, the area is known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park or simply, Keoladeo National Park. The Keoladeo National Park was formed nearly 250 years ago and has been named after the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva within its boundaries. In 1971, the area was declared a protected sanctuary. One of the most popular national parks in the country, Keoladeo happens to be a man-made and man-managed wetland. The park used to serve as a hunting ground for the Bharatpur maharajas and duck shoots were organized on an annual basis in honor of the British Viceroys. Bharatpur became a National Park on the 10th of March, 1982. The area is currently a reserve forest under the Rajasthan Forest Act, 1953, and subsequently, the property of the State of Rajasthan of the Indian Union. Grazing in the park was banned by the government in 1982.

Geography and Location – Bharatpur is a part of the Golden Triangle route and can easily be accessed via the city of Agra. Situated in the eastern part of Rajasthan, the Park is spread across an area of 29 kilometres. Almost a third of the habitat of the park comprises of wetland systems with different kinds of microhabitats, consisting of trees, dykes, mounds and open water with or without emergent or submerged plant species.

Flora & Fauna – The flora of the Keoladeo National Park consists of 379 different species of flowering plants, out of which 96 happen to be wetland species. In the entire area of Bharatpur, only the park boasts of significant vegetation. The main sort of vegetation includes tropical dry deciduous forest along with dry grassland in areas where degradation of forests has taken place. A lot of the area remains covered by shrubs and medium-sized trees apart from the man-managed marshlands. The area is rich in aquatic vegetation and provides a decent food source for waterfowl.

Aquatic habitats contain macro invertebrates like molluscs, worms and insects. They form the staple diet of many bird and fish species. The number of different bird species in Keoladeo National Park approximates 370. Bharatpur remains the only consistent wintering area in India for the rare Siberian Crane.Apart from various birds, there are about 27 species of mammals found in the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Reptile species in the area consist of cobra, krait, bullfrog, monitor lizard etc.

Python Points – Pythons are a common sight in Bharatpur. It is not uncommon to view a python emerge from its burrow and bask in the rays of the sun on a warm day during the winter season.

Bharatpur happens to be one of the best places in the world to view thousands of exotic and indigenous birds at the same time. The onset of winter, signals the confluence of numerous migratory as well as resident birds in Bharatpur, for breeding. The initial lot consists of herons, followed by cormorants, egrets, spoonbills, storks and ibis. The winter migrants from the farthest reaches of western Siberia and the Arctic Tundra arrive soon after. The vibrant wetland of Bharatpur becomes a huge breeding ground for the birds who build nests in more than 50,000 trees. Bharatpur is not only a bird lover’s paradise but provides naturalists with the opportunity to observe various birds in their natural habitat. Viewers are treated to many fascinating sights. No matter where you look, you shall be able to see different birds. They are in the trees, among the reeds in the water, as well as in the air. Even if you look towards land, you shall notice francolins running. This is the magic of Bharatpur. Bharatpur happens to be a Ramsar convention area and has been deemed a World Heritage site. Sadly, Bharatpur was struck by drought between the years 2005 to 2009 and as a result, several bird species had stopped nesting in the area. However, for the past three years, the level of water in the rivers has been good and the birds have returned to the area as a result. A large amount of rainfall was recorded in the area this year and thousands of night herons, cormorants and painted storks have begun nesting in Bharatpur. It has been predicted that due to the favourable climatic conditions, thousands of birds shall arrive in the wetland this year.

We recommend Bharatpur to birdwatchers and photographers, for the unique experience, like never before, of spotting numerous species of birds in the same area.

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