Bharat Pur Brid Sanchuary
The eastern gateway to Rajasthan is the town of Bharatpur, which is at a distance of 55 km from Agra. Bharatpur is famous for its superb waterfowl habitat, which is one of the finest bird parks in the world, Bharatpur bird sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park). It is located between the historic cities of Aga and Jaipur.
This National Park got its name from the god keoladeo an aspect of Lord shiva, enshrined within the central of the national park. The term ‘ghana’ is derived from Hindi, which means dense and refers to thick forest. It became a national park on 10 March 1982 and was declared a UNESCO world heritage sight in December 1985.
Bharatpur is both an ancient as well a mythological city. It is believed that Bharatpur derived its name from Bharat, Brother of Lord Rama, whose brother Laxman is the main deity here in Bharatpur. The name Laxman was even engraved on the arms, seals and other emblems of the state.
Bharatpur is even mentioned in the Mahabharta, one of the Hindu epics as it was closely linked with the ancient kingdom of Matsya Desh. During the rule of late Mauryan era it was a flourishing town.
Bharatpur and its environs are peopled by Jats, which is very unlikely of rest of the Rajasthan. It is believed to be established by Rustan, Jat chieftain. In the late 17 th century Jats began to make its presence felt and by 18 th century, they came to control a large area of west of the Yamuna River between Delhi and Agra.
Later Raja Surajmal, who took over the site from Khemkaran, a son of Rustan, made the state of Bharatpur a formidable force in the region. He built the fort at Bharatpur and forfeited the city by building a massive wall around it. It was with his efforts that a man made lake was constructed at Bharatpur and new eco system flourished at Bharatpur and today it serves thousands of birds.
ARTIFICIALY MADE NATURAL WORLD
Maharaja Surajmal laid down the fondation of Bharatpur wildlife sanctuary by constructing a dam, which was later, cleared and became the Bharatpur Lake. It gave birth to new eco system and even today it is nestling indigenous and migratory birds. However conservation was the last thing on his mind and it was a royal hunting preserve of the Maharaja and was one of the best duck-shooting wetlands in the world.
In 1965 the government banned the indiscriminate shooting of birds and the area was declared a national park in the year 1982 and in 1985 it was accepted as a UNESCO world heritage site.
FAVORITE BIRD RETREAT
Bharatpur bird sanctuary is one of India’s premier wildlife sanctuaries and is a real kingdom of Avian fauna in India. It is a marshy area, which is stretching over 29 sq km of kadam forests, grasslands and beautiful shallow lakes. Today this area ranks as one of the best water bird preserves in the world because it harbors some of
India’s richest bird life and one can see over 350 species of birds, including both native as well as migratory.
It is the second habitat in the world that is visited by the Serbian Cranes, which are rare in the world. Feredunkenar in Iran and Bharatpur Sanctuary is the only place where Siberian Cranes migrates and thus Siberian Crane is the most popular bird among tourists and ornithologists at Bharatpur sanctuary. The Siberian cranes visits India in winters when the rivers of Siberia are frozen due to the extreme winters and as soon as the winters are over in Siberia, the Siberian cranes return back to Siberia. These huge cranes during their stay in India adopt a vegetation diet.
Other Migratory birds at Bharatpur bird sanctuary include, Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Wagtails, Warblers, Wheatears, Flycatchers, Buntings, Larks and Pipits, etc.
The artificial basins at the Bharatpur bird Sanctuary offer perfect habitat for exotic water birds and more than 44,000 trees here are nestling various species of birds. It is a breeding ground for astonishingly wide variety of vegetation and provides nestling ground for the birds. Birds at Bharatpur bird sanctuary dominate the entire landscape of the sanctuary and are a perfect delight for the tourists and ornithologists.
Apart from the varied species of Birds, the Keoladeo Ghana Sanctuary also houses wide range of reptiles and mammal species, including deer, Jackal, Blackbuck, fishing cats, and is also inhabited by Sambar, Cheetal, Nilgayi and boar.
BEST WAY TO EXPLORE
The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary can be best explored on foot or by hiring a bicycle. One can enjoy boat cruises on the Bharatpur Lake and explore the beautiful profusion of color and explosion of the spirit of life. Hiring a rickshaw is also a good option to travel along the defined trails within the Bharatpur bird Sanctuary.
OTHER TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Bharatpur palace is a fine fusion of Mughal and Rajput architecture and was built by different Maharajas in various phases. The palace has magnificent apartments that are richly decorated with intricately designed floor tiles having interesting patterns. The darbar is now converted into a museum and in the central of the museum ancient exhibits are displayed.
Providing a glimpse of the royal past, Bharatpur government museum is one of the major attractions at Bharatpur sanctuary. It houses a rich collection of artifacts and exquisitely carved sculptures and ancient inscriptions are attention grabbers at the museum. These speak about the royal lineage and local life.
Lohagarh fort (Iron fort) built in the early 18 th century is a massive iron structure. The fort derived its name from impregnable defenses, which remained unconquered even after a number of British attacks. Within the precincts of the fort there are three palaces- Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas.
The Ganga mandir is a beautiful piece of architecture and the construction of this temple was started by Maharaja Balwant Singh in 1845. For the construction of this temple all the persons who were employed in the service of the state were asked to donate one month’s salary for the shrine.
Laxman, brother of lord Rama is the main deity at Bharatpur and thus a beautiful Laxman Temple is constructed at Bharatpur. This beautiful temple is famous for beautiful stonework with elaborate carvings.
JAWAHAR BURJ AND FATEH BURJ
Within the glorious ramparts of the Fort, the two towers –Jawahar burj and Fateh Burj are also of special interest. These towers were built to commemorate the victories of Jats over Mughals and British and were built by Maharaja Surajmal. At Jawahar burj, the rulers of Bharatpur used to be crowned.
Deeg is at a distance of 32 km from Bharatpur and was once a second capital of the region. A strong and massive fort is at Deeg is a major tourist attraction; it was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur. Deeg fort houses numerous beautiful palaces and gardens. The colorful bazaars of Deeg are also a great attraction.