Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur: An Excellent Weekend Getaway from New Delhi

Taking advantage of the long weekend because of the Republic Day holiday on Thursday in India, we visited Keoladeo National Park, the famous bird sanctuary at Bharatpur. Let me say at the outset that H and I are no bird watchers but we are ready to travel at the drop of a hat or even a pin. And four days are more than enough to go to Bharatpur and come back from New Delhi. The park was also recommended strongly by Lily.

We took Mewar express from Hazrat Nizamudin railway station at 7.50 pm and reached Bharatpur around 11.00 pm. A tempo guy said he would take us to a hotel. Most of the hotles are streatched along half a kilometer area near the bird sanctuary but at 11 in night the gates of the guesthouses were locked and no one answered the call bells. After many failed attempts, we finally managed to wake up the owner of the Falcon Guesthouse (it is highly recommended for budget stay by the excellent guys at the forum and I agree with them). It was past midnight by now. The owner told us that the rent was Rupees 400. We gladly took the room and crashed.

Next day, we headed straight to the park after having the breakfast. I took photographs of the two boards at the enterance of the Keoladeo National Park, where the details of the timing of the park, guide rates and enterance fee are given. Takes the hassel out of writing about it. The rates become more readable if you click on the photographs to view them at the full size. The enterance fee for Indian nationals is Rupees 25 and for foreign nationals Rupees 200. Anyway, as I said before click on the photographs to see the entire boards more clearly.

We walked up to a barrier after which motorized vehciles are not allowed. At this point we found an area where a boat was parked and H decided we would go on a boat ride. It was an excellent decision. Prior to visiting the Baharatpur park, all my experience of bird watching was on treks where an enthusiast would point at sometihng high up which was hardly visible. But this year in Bharatpur there is ample water and it was a very in your face kind of experience. H and I can appriciate birds only in this way, I guess.

I managed to capture these three painted storks from our boat ride. In the picture below are their babies high up in the tress. They make an enormous amount of noise. There must have been more than a thousand painted storkes in the park, it was easy to photograph them. Though I sincerely wish I had something better than my lousy Nikon Coolpix 3200 with just a 3X optical zoom. Not at all good for wildlife photography.

Looks all grace in flight, isn’t it? Don’t ask me what it is, if you know the name of this white bird, tell me too (It is a large Egret. I know now because Lily has been kind enough to mention it in the comments). The water reflection is an added bonus. The day was bright and most of the time water reflections were crystal clear. But there is a small problem with many of the photographs I took, I used the digital zoom and on full screen the image looks blurred and grainy. The digital zoom on my Nikon Coolpix seems quite useless for taking wildlife shots and the 3X optical zoom is just not enough.

A meeting of birds in progress here. The black ones are called cormorents.
Again, I do not know what this one is called, but looks mighty nice (Lesser Pied Kingfisher, once again thanks to Lily, I know the names).
We are Taking a walk, care to join?

Here, I can tell you another story. These are two different pythons. To see if the python was sun bathing, our boatman got out of the boat after pulling it across the bank at one point. The water is quite shallow in the wetland, at the most six feet deep and the boatman was using a long bamboo stick to guide the boat. There were five of us in the boat, waiting for his report. Meanwhile, the guide (hired by another group sharing the boat ride with us) tried to get out and managed to push the boat midstream. We all were laughing and wondering how the boatman will get the boat to the shore again? Well, he threw the bamboo to the guide and told him to push it at one side and a little while later at the other, and we were near the bank again, it was that simple. He then told us that a python was sunbathing indeed. That is how I got the first picture.

The second python was sunbathing near the canteen next to the Keoladeo (Shiva) Temple and was surrounded by a host of people. It was even easier to click the second python.

The wetlands are the lifeline of the park. The park is huge and we travelled partly on foot and partly on rented bicycle (the bicycles can be rented at the main gate for Rupees 25 for the entire day). One can hire a rickshaw too, the rickshaw pullers have been trained by WWF and they are expert birdwatchers. All in all, an excellent trip and I am told that the season lasts till February. So if you live in and around Delhi, what are you waiting for?

12 thoughts on “Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur: An Excellent Weekend Getaway from New Delhi”

  1. I’m so glad I found your new blog–I remember now that you gave me the new address a while ago when commenting on my blog. (Silly me!)I really love these photographs and your description of the bird sanctuary. I always enjoy exploring new places and discovering wildlife is an added bonus.After reading your blog and Lily’s account of her recent trip to India I am more convinced than ever that my husband and I need to make India out next big trip.I’ll let you know if and when this happens because I’ll want to ask you and Lily all sorts of questions if my husband and I can get the time off next year. 🙂

  2. hi mridula,so you are back. looks like you guys had a great time. the pics are real nice. will talk to you soonkrishna

  3. Glad to see you made it to Bharatpur. It’s one of the regrets of our trip that we didn’t stay another day.I picked up a Birds of India book while we were there so I can help you with identification. The flying white bird (great picture by the way) is a Large Egret. The black and white bird on the stump is a Lesser Pied Kingfisher. We didn’t see one of those, which is too bad. It makes a nice picture.You’re so lucky to find the pythons out in the open! The only one we found was curled up under the bushes so the picture isn’t that great.The funny thing about birding is that once you know where to look you start to see all kinds of birds and animals you never noticed before. Glad you had a good time!

  4. Mridula, that was a fabulous travelouge! I really love the way you go into all those details of what you saw and with all those photos that truly capture trhe moment. Awesome!

  5. Hi Mridula! I like Storks, they build the most amazing and gigantic nests! The Bird Santuary seems lovely and your pictures are of National Geographic quality, but OUCH…foreigners paying 800% more than the locals seems quite unfair in my opinion!

  6. JB, if you ever come this side, do let me know. And all your queries are welcome.Krishna, how did you landed up here? Lily, I almost had to blackmale H into coming. And your strong recommendation helped. I have seen your flicker pictures and they are nice. I wonder why you do not use some of it on your blog too?Kaushik, thanks a lot.Teri, do come sometime.Thanks Prashant.Crystal, there were so many photographers (professionals?) in the park with funky gizmos. I wonder what kind of pictures they got. Mine are quite ordinary, if you have seen the actual view. But thanks for boosting my morale. I know about the ticket prices, what to do! Lame, at the best.

  7. Mridula, this is brilliant – I’ve always wanted to go to Bharatpur but it’s a little more than a day trip for me here from Bombay. Incidently I too went bird watching this past weekend. Bombay becomes home to a couple of hundred lesser flamingos every winter. It was great and I too took some pictures.

  8. Lovely photos. Am new to blogging. Anyway, just wanted to warn anyone visiting Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary about Hotel Spoonbill. Had a bad experience there. Reached there at noon, and one would have expected a decent meal. Nothing fancy, but something hot and simple. What we got was cold frigid rice and rotis with stale curry. Worst I’ve had. Rooms also not that great. By the way, they engage in discrimination…Only foreigners are given the bright airy rooms on the first floor while we poor desis are given the dark rooms on the ground floor. All in all, not a good experience at all…

  9. An addition to my earlier note on Hotel Spoonbill. Meant to add that the park itself is definitely worth the visit. Just make sure you get a better place than Spoonbill to stay in.

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