Bharatpur - Bird Lovers Paradise ( Keoladeo Ghana National Park )
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. The protected marsh, woodland and scrub area of about 29 square kilometres is now known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The sanctuary derived the first part of its name (Keoladeo) from a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva situated in the central zone of the park. The other part (Ghana) of the name is a Hindi word denoting dense and thick forests. The sanctuary was established by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in 1890 purely for the purpose of creating an exclusive royal game. A large area of the forests were enclosed with embankments and earthen dams called bunds. Know More about Keoladeo Ghana National Park ( Bird Sanctuary)
This led to the creation of a number of lakes and marshes and it proved godsend for the migratory birds from Siberia and other parts of the world. Poaching was banned by the government in 1965 and large-scale conservation efforts began by famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali led the sanctuary to be declared as a National Park in March 1982. The sanctuary was accepted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
While on a trip to Bharatpur, do take some time off to visit the nearby places like Alwar, Deeg, Mahaban, Barsana, Dholpur, and Nandgaon which are quite popular among tourists. The Bharatpur-Deeg-Dholpur circuit covers many small and seemingly backward villages that have enjoyed celebrity status once upon a time, playing host to royalty or bearing witness to major battles. Mahwa is a halfway house between Bharatpur and Jaipur at a distance of around 60 km on National Highway 11. Alwar is regarded as the gateway to the colourful state of Rajasthan. Deeg is a princely town which was once used as the summer resort by Maharaja of Bharatpur.
The small but famous pilgrimage centre, Govardhan, lies along the narrow spur of hills east of Deeg.South-east of Bharatpur, on the national highway between Agra and Gwalior, lies Dholpur, capital of the former princely state of the same name. Mahaban, Nandgaon, Barsana, and Baldeo are all villages related to childhood stories of Lord Krishna. It is a forbidding structure with 15 large and 51 small towers and 446 openings for musketry, along with 8 huge towers encompassing it, The fort has several gates - Jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Laxman Pol, Chand Pol, Kishan Pol and Andheri Gate, Also there are remains of Jai Mahal, Nikumbh Mahal, Salim Sagar, Suraj Kund and many temples.
Excursions for Bharatpur
Alwar :- 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. more..
Barsana : - 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.
Deeg :- 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.
Nandgaon :- Nandgaon (56 km from Mathura) is the place where Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his childhood. Several stories of his childhood are associated with this village. The temple dedicated to Nand Rai, situated atop a hill, is the prime attraction of Nandgaon. It was built by a Jat ruler called Roop Singh. The other temples here are dedicated to Narsingha, Gopinath, Nritya Gopal, Girdhari, Nand Nandan, and Yasodha Nandan. Along with Barsana, Nandgaon has a glorious tradition of Holi. One day before the Holi, women of Barsana visit Nandgaon and challenge the men of this village to play Holi with them. The next day the men of this village go to Barsana to play the famous Lathmar Holi (Holi played with wooden sticks).
· Area 29 sq. km
· Altitude 250 m above sea level
· Best time to visit October to March
· STD code 05644