Bharatpur in Rajasthan, India is known for its world-famous bird sanctuary, the Keoladeo National Park. With birds migrating here during winter months, November to February is a wonderful time to come and enjoy this habitat of hundreds of species of birds.

Hire a rickshaw at the entrance of the park to take you around, or hire a bicycle to go at your own pace. The advantage of the rickshaws is that the drivers also double up as guides, in case you don’t know how to differentiate your cattle egrets from your rufous treepies!  The park also has some dedicated guides from the acclaimed Bombay Natural History Society, who come highly recommended. I was guided by an excellent naturalist who had worked with the late great Dr Salim Ali, known as the ‘birdman of India’. My knowledgeable guide was also working with a Dutch entomologist on a book about dragonflies and shared stories of a lifetime of adventures in and around the bird sanctuary. 

My favourite birds in Bharatpur? The very noisy young ones of the painted storks, who were just learning how to fly out of their nests. Flapping their wings as hard as they could, all they could manage was to jump up a tiny few inches despite their best strongest efforts! They still had a long way to go before they could fly gracefully like their parents! And what were the parents doing in the meantime? They were flying to and fro bringing more material to repair and expand the nests for their growing babies. 

My other favourite birds? The gracefully shiny black darters or snake birds drying their wings in the sun. These are named after their long thin snake-like necks.

How can I forget the spoonbill? This is named after, yes, its curious spoon-shaped bill. 

And then there was the black drongo, with its distinct forked-tail. The beloved kingfisher, with its bright turquoise colours. The adorably cute spotted owlets, baby and adult. And so many, many more beauties. Which will be your favourites? 

Of course, it’s not just birds that one gets to see in the national park. Graceful spotted deer, speedy foxes and quietly still bats are the other wildlife I came across. 

This article is titled ‘Bharatpur: Birds and Beyond’ as there is much beyond birds to be explored in Bharatpur and its surroundings. In Bharatpur town itself, there is a fort with its newly renovated small but excellent museum. The museum stays open until 8 PM and it is a great idea to go there after dark when it is beautifully lit up. The building itself contains a colourfully decorated Hamman. The charming museum houses displays of sculptures found in the Bharatpur area, ceramics, woodwork, metalwork, weapons and more. 

An hour outside Bharatpur is Deeg Palace, which used to be the Bharatpur royal family’s summer residence. This palace really does take you back in time, being one of the few palaces in India that has its rooms decorated with furniture and Persian carpets just like in royal times. Some buildings and gates in the palace were even brought back from the Red Fort in Delhi and rebuilt at Deeg Palace when the rulers of Bharatpur won these in battleThe palace is most famous for its 2000 historical coloured fountains that are run twice a year with song and dance performances taking place in the palace gardens. Certainly a sight I would love to go back to see! 

And what beyond birds and palaces? I was in Bharatpur during the festival of Govardhan Pooja. During the festival, people pray to Lord Krishna, a Hindu god. The festival marks the legend of the occasion when Lord Krishna lifted up Mount Govardhan to protect the people from torrential rains unleashed by the rain god Indra.Driving through the narrow streets, I found the curious sight of people making images of Lord Krishna outside their homes using cow dung. They were decorating these with greenery and would later pray to them. There are interesting cultural experiences and adventures to be had wherever one travels in India! 


17 Comments

Melissa Chapman · June 20, 2019 at 7:02 pm

You had me at the thought of seeing those beautiful birds and wildlife but the town has so much more to offer. India is so great a destination I have to go.

Natalie · June 20, 2019 at 7:20 pm

How amazing! I’ve never been to India but I’m really itching to go. That palace is definitely a place I would love to visit.

Sarah Bailey · June 21, 2019 at 12:02 am

This sounds like an amazing place to go to – it is wonderful they have such an area for the wildlife as well. I think we all need to look out for nature around us.

Melissa · June 21, 2019 at 1:05 am

I have always wanted to travel to India. I have a good friend who is from India and he made me fall in love with the culture. The birds are gorgeous! On my travel list for sure!

Dennis Littley · June 21, 2019 at 5:50 am

Watching the wildlife sounds like it would be a peaceful experience. One of the many things to see in Bharatpur.

Theresa · June 21, 2019 at 7:28 am

I would love to see India’s wildlife. The birds sound wonderful, but I’d also love to see some of those speedy foxes too!

Tasheena · June 21, 2019 at 8:31 am

Wow, this is a really informative post. I learned so much. I would love to visit one day.

Melissa Dixon · June 21, 2019 at 5:26 pm

I have never really seriously considering heading there for a trip but this really pulls me in. I have to show my husband and get him on board, we may need to add this to the bucket list.

Beth · June 21, 2019 at 6:39 pm

Several members of my family are world travelers and they all agree that India is one of the most amazing places to see. I’d love to visit the bird sanctuary.

Terri Steffes · June 21, 2019 at 7:07 pm

I love the artist in the last picture. That is such a wonderful photo, showing us the culture and the art of a country I know little about.

Melanie · June 21, 2019 at 7:18 pm

I bet the wildlife and birds here are awesome to see. It would be the trip of a lifetime to visit here!

Rena · June 21, 2019 at 7:57 pm

I love birds and that is one of the first things I’d see if I were visiting India. India is such a beautiful country and I hope to visit one day.

Kathy · June 21, 2019 at 9:00 pm

What a wonderful post. A lot of great information here. I think birds are so wonderful and I enjoy watching them and going to places with birds.

Catalina · June 21, 2019 at 11:59 pm

What a beautiful and interesting place! India is a magic place!

Swathi · June 22, 2019 at 10:17 am

Beautiful post, I would love to visit Bharatpur some time, when I visit India. Looks like great historic place.

Heather · June 22, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Loved learning about this. So awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Ricci · June 24, 2019 at 8:40 am

I have never traveled outside of the USA but I think your photos are beautiful! I also love looking at pretty birds, they are so graceful!

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