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Adventure Activities in Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park

There are very few richer avifauna areas anywhere in the world than the Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Rajasthan (earlier the Ghana Bird Sanctuary – and a reserve for duck shoots). To the south of the walled town of Bharatpur (and 18km from Fatehpur Sikri), this is India’s premier bird park, and the country’s top destination for birders. In 1981, it was designated as a Ramsar Site under the convention on wetlands.
Biodiversity-rich Keoladeo, a manmade sanctuary, draws a multitude of birds thanks to its location, vast area of wetlands and its status as a protected reserve. Between 350 and 400 species of birds have been documented here, among them 200 permanent residents and over 150 migratory species – including waterfowl, ducks, eagles and harriers (hawks) – flying south from Siberia, China, Tibet, and even as far afield as Europe, fleeing the harsh winters up north. It is also a breeding ground for 104 species.
Keoladeo, a World Heritage Site, is especially famous for its remarkably abundant population of marine birds. Their arrival, just as the rainy season announces itself in the deserts of Rajasthan, is as dramatic as the monsoon’s first thunderstorms. Much of the park is under water at this time of year (for the rest of the year, only a third of Keoladeo is wetland).
Keoladeo is a delight as much for birdwatchers as it is for lovers of wildlife and nature, and for botanists.


Keoladeo was the brainchild of the late Maharaja Brajendra Singh, who turned his personal hunting domain into a bird sanctuary in 1956. He devotedly spent his retirement years in setting up the sanctuary, building a dam and an artificial lake to store the rains that would fall in torrents during the monsoons. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971, a bird sanctuary in 1976, and a national park in 1981. Keoladeo was designated a World Heritage Site in 1985.
Rajasthan endured a crippling drought during the millennium’s first decade, and the damage was particularly pronounced in Keoladeo. Due to scanty rainfall, the water level in the lakes and ponds here has diminished considerably, which has resulted in a substantial decline in the park’s population of water birds, the main attraction.
But it wasn’t just the drought that contributed to the sanctuary’s drying up. In 2004, the state government, under pressure from local farmers, redirected almost all of Keoladeo’s supply of water towards irrigation. Not surprisingly, all this has had a ruinous effect on the wetlands habitat.
The national park gets its name from a Keoladeo (Shiva) shrine that stands inside the sanctuary.


Keoladeo, located 2km southeast of Bharatpur and 50km to the west of Agra, is spread over an area of 29sq km. Vegetation in this part of Rajasthan is thin on the ground – literally – but Keoladeo is a fertile exception (‘Ghana’ means thicket of forest). The park is made up of forests (mostly dry deciduous), occasional scrubland, dry grasslands, woodland swamps and wetlands.


Visit Keoladeo just after the monsoon has departed, between the months of October and March. At this time, during the dry season, the park’s lakes are full, and the aquatic birds have still not left. Besides, of course, there are the seasonal visitors, the migratory birds that flock southwards from the northern hemisphere.
Dawn and dusk are the best times of the day to sight Keoladeo’s birdlife – head to the trees around the Keoladeo Temple, the preferred roosting places for birds.

Flora and Fauna

As the monsoon descends on Keoladeo, you’ll encounter the Sarus crane – as stately a bird as you’ll ever see – snake-necked darters, flamingos, spoonbills, grey pelicans, white ibises and painted storks. Of the latter, there’ll be close to (sometimes upwards of) 2000 – a sight that has to be seen to be believed. Don’t miss the courtship jig of the Sarus crane!
Among other birds, watch out for Ferruginous ducks, openbill storks, spoonbills, kingfishers, warblers, partridges, several species of egrets, herons, geese, cranes, pelicans, cormorants, and ducks and coots. Of the birds of prey, you’ll encounter the Laggar falcon, greater-spotted falcon, marsh harrier and the Pallas’ eagle. You’ll also find nine species of owl in these parts.
Ornithological delights apart, there are 34 species of mammals here, among them chital, sambar, nilgai, wild cats, hyenas and wild boar. Close to Python Point, you might sight a rock python or two, humongous creatures that emerge from the underbrush in winters to catch the sun. There are rumours that a tigress skulks the southern parts of the park (this section is officially closed).
There are also more than 350 species of plants and flowers, 57 species of fish, 22 species of reptiles, 14 species of snakes, eight species of amphibians, a sprinkling of otters, seven species of turtle (the Brahminy river terrapin and the Peacock softshell are indigenous to Keoladeo), 71 species of butterflies, and more than 30 species of dragonflies and spiders (each).

How to reach

Buses connect Bharatpur to Delhi (5hrs), Jaipur (4hrs), Agra (1hr 30min-2hrs) and Fatehpur Sikri (30-45mins). Bharatpur also has a railway station, which falls on the Delhi-Mumbai line; in addition, there are daily services to Agra Fort, Sawai Madhopur and Jaipur.
The nearest airport is in Agra (56km).

Getting Around

Where to go

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