Straddling the north-south avian migratory route, Bharatpur, or Keoladeo Ghana National Park, is now one of the finest water-bird sanctuaries in the world and is home to over 400 species.
Storks, open bills, spoonbills, white ibis, jacanas, harriers, and eagles are amongst the species that may be spotted during early morning and afternoon guided excursions. Visitors can make these excursions on foot, by bicycle, on horseback, by rickshaw or by boat (note: there are no boat excursions after February due to water levels).
The threatened Siberian crane is one of the park’s main attractions. Only a few make the long 5,000 kilometre trip from Siberia across the high barrier of the Himalayas to over winter here, with the majority of birds prefer to spend winter in the Yangtze River region in China. Other notable species include Pallas’s sea eagle, black-necked stork, comb duck and the elusive spotted creeper.
Although renowned for its birds the park also boasts an interesting range of animals, which may be seen in the forests and grassland surrounding the lakes. These include sambar, chital (spotted deer), nilgai, fishing cat, Asiatic jackal, hyena, mongoose and fox. Bharatpur is easily reached by daily express trains from Delhi or Ranthambhore, and lies just a couple of hours’ drive west of Agra on the road to Jaipur, and is perfectly situated to offer wildlife enthusiasts a change of pace after sighteeing in either city. The park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is from November to February, when water levels are high and the migratory birds are present.
Laxmi Villas Palace Hotel
This heritage property, a former royal palace, is a stunning monument to Rajput and Mughal architecture, and offers accommodation in 30 air-conditioned rooms and suites. It is the perfect place from which to explore the famed bird sanctuary of Keoladeo Ghana National Park nearby.