Bharatpur General Information
- Area 29 sq. km
- Altitude 250 m above sea level
- Best time to visit October to March
- STD code 05644
Bharatpur – An Introduction
Located about 55 km by road from Agra on the Jaipur highway, the town of Bharatpur is an eastern gateway to Rajasthan. The Bharatpur Palace houses a large number of exhibits dating back to the early 15th century. Bharatpur, however, is famous for its proximity to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, which has the largest concentration and variety of birdlife in Asia. This 29 sq km sanctuary is also the breeding ground for the rare Siberian Crane. Each year before the advent of winter in the northern hemisphere thousands of birds wing their way across the frozen waters of Siberia, Mongolia, Tibet and the high reaches of eastern Europe to the warmer subcontinent of India. One of the choicest destinations for these avians is the marsh of Bharatpur lying between the cities of Agra and Jaipur in the north-west.
Places of Interest:
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Keoladeo Ghana National Park
Just 176 kms from Delhi is a very special wilderness – the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the finest water-bird sanctuaries in the world. The 28.73 sq km lake and wetland was artificially created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the 19th century. By building small dykes and dams and diverting water from an irrigation canal, he converted this low lying area into a fine wild fowl shooting preserve. In a few years, the new wetland surrounded by marginal forests was able to support thousands of water birds.
Commonly referred to as Bharatpur, the Park is a delight for bird watchers. Over 300 species of birds are found here and raised paths, camouflaged by babul trees and undergrowth make viewing easy. A quiet ride by boat in the early hours of the morning is also an unforgettable experience. There are mixed heronries on the half submerged babul trees and the cacophony is unbelievable as painted storks, open bills, spoon bills, egrets, cormorants, white ibis and multitudes of others, tend their young. Jacanas with their iridescent colours and elegant tail feathers and purple moorhen can be seen delicately treading over the floating vegetation. While harriers and fishing eagles circle overhead in search of prey, the pied kingfisher hovers dramatically over the water in a flurry of wings. There are varieties of storks and cranes and the local sarus crane is elegant in a livery of grey and red.
Every year Bharatpur waits with bated breath for the arrival of the Siberian cranes. There are only two wintering places for this rare species one in Iran and other in Bharatpur. These beautiful birds with their distinctive red beaks and facial patches, fly over 6400 km from their summer retreats in Siberia.
The forest around the lake at Bharatpur harbours the sambar, chital, nilgai, jackal, hyena, fox, mongoose and porcupine. Occasionally, a fishing cat can be seen scooping its prey from waters edge. Pythons are also commonly seen sunning themselves along the edge of the paths or at Python point.
Alwar is at a distance of 116 km from Bharatpur. Though the city is regarded as the gateway to the royal state of Rajasthan, it has a legacy more powerful than that. There are many tourist attractions in the city that reflect the glorious Rajput history of the place. The main attraction of Alwar are the Bala Quila and the City Palace complex. There is a lake beside the City Palace, as well as a government museum and the tomb of Tarang Sultan.
Barsana (50 km from Mathura), considered as the birthplace of Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna, has a very special place in every Hindu//’s heart. Barsana is famous for the festival of Holi, when the women of this village attack the men from Nandgaon (considered as Krishna//’s village) with wooden sticks in response to their efforts to put colour on them. The main attractions here are Larily Lal Temple, Mor Kutir, and Sankari Kor.
Situated 32 km north-west of Bharatpur on the way to Alwar, Deeg was once the favourite summer resort and second capital of Bharatpur state. As towns go, Deeg is not much of a place, being small and dusty and primarily agricultural. But it has a past worthy of note. Built as a holiday resort by the Jat rulers of Bharatpur, Deeg has a fort with all of twelve bastions. The largest of these, Lakha Burj, is still mounted with a cannon. But more than the fort, Deeg is not to be missed for the excellent sense of balance with which its palaces and gardens have been laid out. The buildings form a large rectangle enclosing a garden and two large tanks at the eastern and western ends. The largest and most impressive structure is Gopal Bhawan inside which, even on a summer//’s day, the air is cool and refreshing. Perhaps the most attractive part of the garden complex is the summer pavilion, Keshav Bhawan. On special occasions the 500 fountains around the pavilion used to spout coloured water while fireworks lit up the night sky. Some of these fountains still play during local festivals.
A part of Brajbhoomi, Mahaban (approximately 35 km) is the place where, according to legends, Lord Krishna spends most of his youth. A major attraction of Mahaban is the Palace of Nanda, Krishna’s foster-father, which is believed to contain Krishna’s actual cradle.