Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the most spectacular bird
sanctuaries in India, nesting indigenous water- birds as well as migratory
water birds and water side birds. It is also inhabited by sambar, chital,
nilgai and boar. More than 300 species of birds are found in this small
park of 29 sq. km. of which 11 sq. km. are marshes and the rest scrubland
and grassland. Keoladeo, the name derives from an ancient Hindu temple,
devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the centre of the park. 'Ghana'
means dense, referring to the thick forest, which used to cover the area.
While many of India's parks have been developed from the hunting preserves
of princely India, Keoladeo Ghana is perhaps the only case where the
habitat has been created by a maharaja. In earlier times, Bharatpur town
used to be flooded regularly every monsoon. In 1760, an earthern dam (Ajan
Dam) was constructed, to save the town, from this annual vagary of nature.
The depression created by extraction of soil for the dam was cleared and
this became the Keoladeo lake. At the beginning of this century, this lake
was developed, and was divided into several portions. A system of small
dams, dykes, sluice gates, etc., was created to control water level in
different sections. This became the hunting preserve of the Bharatpur
royalty, and one of the best duck - shooting wetlands in the world.
Hunting was prohibited by mid-60s. The area was declared a national park
on 10 March 1982, and accepted as a World Heritage Site in December
Over 350 species of birds find a refuge in the 29 sq km of
shallow lakes and woodland, which makes up the park. A third of them are
migrants, many of whom spend their winters in Bharatpur, before returning
to their breeding grounds, as far away as Siberia and Central Asia.
Migratory birds at Keoladeo include, as large a bird as Dalmatian pelican,
which is slightly less than two meters, and as small a bird as Siberian
disky leaf warbler, which is the size of a finger. Other migrants include
several species of cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks,
stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks and
pipits, etc. But of all the migrants, the most sought after is the
Siberian Crane or the great white crane, which migrates to this site every
year, covering a distance of more than half the globe. These birds,
numbering only a few hundred, are on the verge of extinction. It is birds
from the western race of the species, that visit Keoladeo, migrating from
the Ob river basin region, in the Aral mountains, in Siberia via
Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are only two wintering places, left for
this extremely rare species.One is in Feredunkenar in Iran, and the other
is Keoladeo Ghana. The journey to Bharatpur takes them 6,400 kms from
their breeding grounds, in Siberia. They arrive in December and stay till
early March. Unlike Indian cranes, the Siberian crane is entirely
vegetarian. It feeds on underground aquatic roots and tubers in loose
flocks of five or six.
Ranthambhore National Park
Near the township of Sawai Madhopur,
in the state of Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park is an outstanding
example of Project Tiger's efforts at conservationin the country. The
forests around the Ranthambore Fort were once, the private hunting grounds
of the Maharajas of Jaipur. The desire to preserve the game in these
forests for sport, was responsible for their conservation, and subsequent
rescue by Project Tiger. The Park sprawls over an estimated area of 400 sq
kms. Steep crags embracea network of lakes and rivers, and a top one of
these hills, is the impressive Ranthambore Fort, built in the 10th
century. The terrain fluctuates between impregnable forests and open
bushland. The forest is the typically dry deciduous type, with dhok, being
the most prominent tree. The entry point to the Park, goes straight to the
foot of the fort and the forest rest house, Jogi Mahal. The latter boasts
of the second-largest banyan tree in India. The Padam Talab, the Raj Bagh
Talab and the Milak Talab are some of the lakes in the area, that attract
the tiger population . They have been spotted at the edges of these lakes,
and Jogi Mahal itself. Old crumbling walls, ruined pavilions, wells, and
other ancient structures stand witness to the region's glorious past. The
entire forest is peppered with the battlements and spillovers of the
Ranthambore Fort - tigers are said to frequent these ruins, too. As a
result of stringent efforts in conservation, tigers, the prime assets of
the Park, have become more and more active during the day. More than in
any other park or sanctuary in India, tigers are easily spotted here in
daylight. They can be seen lolling around lazily in the sun, or feverishly
hunting down sambar around the lakes.
When to visit :
The best time to visit the park is between October and April. The parkis closed during the monsoon, from June to October.
Getting there : By air:
Jaipur (165 km) is the nearest airport.
By rail :
The Park is
around 12 km away from Sawai Madhopur railway station, that lies on
the Delhi to Bombay trunk route.
By road : A good network of
buses connect Sawai Madhopur with quite a few areas around.
Where to stay :
RTDC Hotel Jhoomar Baari, RTDC Hotel Kamdhenu, Sawai Madhopur Lodge, PWD Rest House, and Jogi Mahal which lies within the park premises, are some of the available means of
Desert National Park
The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of
the Thar desert and its diverse fauna. Sand dunes form around 20% of the Park.
The major landform consists of craggy rocks and compact salt lake bottoms,
intermedial areas and fixed dunes which are quite suitable for the chinkara to
move at high speed. The blackbuck is another common antelope of this region. Its
other notable inhabitants are the desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf and desert
cat.Sudashri forest post is the ideal place for observing
the wildlife of Desert National Park and is the most suitable in the entire 3162
sq. kms. of this park for watching and photographing the activities of the
animals from behind cover.
Birdlife in this sandy habitat is vivid and
spectacular. Birds such as the sandgrouse, partridges, bee-eaters, larks and
shrikes are commonly seen. Demoiselle crane and houbara arrive in the winter.
The birds of prey seen here are tawny and steppe eagles, long
legged and honey buzzards, falcons and kestrels. But the most outstanding of the
avifauna is the great Indian bustard. This tall, heavy bird is an epitome of
confidence and grace. It is good to see five or six bustards near Sudashri water
This park is also very rich in reptiles. Spiny tail
lizard, monitor lizard, saw sealed viper, Russel's viper, Sind krait, toad agama
and sandfish are found in large numbers.18 kms. from jaisalmer is the Akal Wood Fossils Park
which is about 180 million years of age. Sea shells and massive fossilised tree
trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert.
Sariska National Park
Sariska became a sanctuary in the
year 1958. The sanctuary came under the project Tiger in 1979 and became a
national park in 1982. It is located at Kankwari fort, near Alwar, on the
Delhi Jaipur Highway. The terrain is predominantly hilly, as it lies in
the Aravalli range. It has total area of 788 sq. kilometres, with a core
area of approx. 47sq. kilometres. At last count in 1985, there 35 tigers
were reported. Other carnivores of the area are the panthe, jungle cat,
jackal and hyena. Three caracals were also reported during the last census
in 1985. Other animals include the sambhar, chital, wild boar, hare,
nilgai and umpteen porcupines. The birdlife comprises of the pea fowl,
gray partridge, quail, sandgrouse, tree pie, white breasted kingfisher,
golden woodpecker and great indian horned owl.
When to visit : November & March is the best period to visit.