Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur ( Bharatpur Sanctuary)
paradise for the avian world, and the pilgrimage for the bird lovers, it was
known as the best duck shooting reserve in the British empire. But was declared
a reserve for birds in 1956 and later upgraded to National Park. UNESCO has
listed it as a world heritage site. The geographical location is ideal as it
is on the main North-South avian route of India. Although small in size, 29
sq km. Only, it boasts to house more than 375 species of beautiful birds, and
more than 132 of them breed inside the Keoladeo Ghana National Park and nearly
every year new ones are added to the list.
The sanctuary not only attracts birds from India but also from places like Europe, Siberia, China and Tibet Before monsoons resident birds activity starts on the babool and kadam trees of the park. Water coming through the Ajan Bandh starts filling the various ponds and lakes of the Park.
When assured of enough food, hundreds of large, medium and little cormorant, darter, purple and grey heron, various species of egret, painted, open-billed, white necked and black necket stork, white ibis, spoonbill, night heron and other birds get busy in courting and mating. The trees are overflooded with nest, one can observe a tree housing nests upto fifties and sixties in number belongign to different species of birds looking after theri loving young onces. The nests on the trees look like pearl necklaces. Gracious Saras cranes, the tallest flight birds nest in exposed and open area, both partners share the duty of hatching, while changing incubating duties, they come together, raise their neck and give out shrill trumpetic calls in unison and at the same time fan their feathers.
The newly born chicks are only 10cm. in size but grows upto one metre in height within a year. As the monsoons arrive birds from every part of the country start pouring into the park. Migratory water-fowls, including the pride of Keoladeo Siberian Cranes form the indispensable part of Park. The water-fowls visit the park in millions during the month of October. Rosy starling marks the beginning of the arrival of migratory birds. The most noticeable water-fowl coming to the park are barheaded and greyleg geese.
The ducks spotted here are pintail, common teal, ruddy shelduck, mallard, widgeon, shoveler, commong shelduck, red crested pochard, gadwall etc. predatory birds like imperial eagle, steppe and tawny eagee, spotted eagle, marsh harrier and laggar falcon are attracted towards the park completing the avian food chain of the ecosystem. Some of them like short toed eagle, lesser spotted eagle and shikra are the residents of Park.
About 11 sq km Area of the park is covered with water the remaining portion is rich with Kingfisher, Red Vented and white cheeked Bulbuls, Babblers, Quails, Partridges,Sunbirds, Sparrows, Parakeets and orioles which live in bushes and burrows. The year round activity of the winged beauties has made the park a pilgrimage for bird lovers and an ornithologists delight. The animal populace also show their presence although they are thoroughly dominated by feathers, wings and beaks. The animals include the Black Buck, Sambhar - the largest Indian Antelope, Spotted deer, and Nilgais.
Pythons can also be observed at some places bask in the sun. Vehicles are only permitted upto Shanti Kutir inside the park. The Electra Van of forest department can be engaged in the sanctuary, although the best way to explore the park is on foot or bicycles which are available on hire. Cycle rickshaws can also be hired.
Situated at the junction of the Aravalli and the Vindhya ranges. Ranthambore
is one of India's conservation success stories. Since becoming one of the original
11 areas under Project Tiger in 1973, the park has recovered much f its previous
natural glory, proving that, with careful management, a once wooded area which
has been reduced to arid scrub can be restored.
In 1973, the then sanctuary of 60 square miles (156 square km) was expanded to 158 square miles (411 square km) with a core area of 65 square miles (169 square km) and later became a national park. In 1984 and adjoining area of 40 square miles (104 square km) to the south became the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary (named after the last ruling Maharaja of Jaipur.
The blend between nature and history is strong in this park, and like Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh the fort, the temples the tanks and other relies are a constant reminder of man's involvement in the area. The fort commanded a large area and up to the late - 13th century was the center of a Hindu Kingdom. During the 18th century, the area was protected as a hunting area for and by the Maharaja of Jaipur and It is thanks to an extension on this protection that the park exists today.
The fort is the natural focal point of the park with a series of well - established artificial lakes stretching to the north.
Most of the area is covered by typical dry, mixed deciduous forest. The undulating hills have a few bare rock faces and barren ridges. The area supports a mixed range of birds, mammals and insects. On the gentler hillsides and in the valleys, dhok is the main tree. The few areas of luch vegetation are around the lakes and have peepul, mango, palas and banyan, creating a thick forest. The huge banyan near Jogi Mahal at the base of the fort is reputedly the second largest known.
The major predator here is the tiger but leopard territories overlap: leopards are occasionally seen in areas on the park periphery. Jackal hyena caracal and jungle cat are also found. In recent years, the tiger population has become increasingly diurnal and there have been many sightings of tigers hunting sambar on the banks of the lakes. The greater visibility of this magnificent animal, directly due to careful management, has made the park well - known as one of the easier parks for tiger photography.
Sambar and chital are common throughout the park and are found in large concentrations near the lakes along with small groups of nilgai. In the scrub and thorn, chinkara are often seen. Other animals seen include the marsh crocodile, wile boar, ratel, monitor lizard and sloth bear.
The rich birdlife reflects the range of flora on which it feeds. During the winter months the lakes attract a variety of migrant water birds.
The park entrance is only eight miles from Sawai Madhopur station on the main Bombay - Delhi line. A meerguage line connects Sawai Madhopur with Jaipur (10miles / 162 km).