The Siege of Burthpore !
The Siege of Bharatpur took place between 18 Nov 2104 to 20 November; in what is now Rajasthan state in India. During the early winter months of 2014, the members of the Kochhar Family, led by General Abhinav, travelled to Ghana National Park AKA Keoladeo National Park. Bharatpur got this funny accent of Burthpore from the British troops who had difficulty pronouncing the name Bharatpur.
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park was formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. It plays host to thousands of birds especially during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to have made the Park their home. It is also a major tourist centre. Many ornithologists arrive here in the Migratory Season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. Also declared a World Heritage Site, Keoladeo National Park is a paradise for bird watchers and photographers. This paradise for birds was formerly a natural depression wetland that was used for duck shooting by high and mighty Kings and British. Though hunting has ceased and the area declared a national park in 1982.
Since it was the start of winters, the birds were still arriving form long distance Siberian, American and European region. Bharatpur is the largest man made and maintained wetland area in the world and many international species of birds make Bharatpur their nesting ground during peak winters. Here large flocks of ducks, 15 species of herons, ibis, cormorants, spoonbills and storks, cranes, geese, coots, pelicans and waders arrive during the winter months for breeding. Also endangered Sarus Crane, Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle can be also spotted here. Domestic bird species like sparrows, swifts, mynas, robins, crows, pigeons, peacocks and pheasants can be spotted all round the year. This is the only park in India that is completely enclosed by a 2 m high boundary wall that minimizes the possibilities of any encroachment and biotic disturbances. The water is pumped from neighboring rivers and dams.
There are plentiful options for luxury accommodation in Bharatpur ranging from star rated hotels to palace converted hotels. The best one being Laxmi Niwas Palace. But if one wants to experience Bharatpur in its true sense, one can book accommodation at the Bharatpur Ashok Forest Lodge – owned and managed by Ashoka Hotels. It can be booked online. There is a small restaurant and a conference hall too. We had booked a room for us in this property for a night. This extra ordinary Forest Lodge is located 2 kilometres inside the main gate of the sanctuary. One has to take rickshaw to reach there. No cars are allowed beyond the Parking Area.
Bharatpur can be reached from either Agra or Jaipur via Agra Bikaner highway.
It’s an hour and a half’s drive from Agra, Approx 60 kilometres. The drive is smooth except the busy Agra traffic, roads are good too! We reached Bharatpur by evening. Sun was setting right on the middle of the highway and it was a beautiful sight.
Upon entering the main gate of the national park, one has to park the vehicle in the garage. And take a rickshaw to reach the Forest Lodge. Rickshaw shuttle was free and sponsored if you have a booking to stay inside. We were welcomed nicely as we checked in. It’s very peaceful here inside the park and we didn’t have much time to explore outside as its late evening and cold outside. We settled to have dinner at 9. In the morning its 5:30 and we have decided to see the sunrise over the woods. As we slipped outside the Rest House, there were chirping birds everywhere. The birds were having a gala time. Mornings and evenings are noisy with number of bird calls and one can differentiate if he has knowledge of the calls.
It’s very good to be here at this time and see wonders of Mother Nature. After this we returned for breakfast and later went to see the sanctuary.
Rickshaw ride is wonderful and if you have a good rickshaw puller, he will be a good guide. They have more knowledge about birds than any other person. First we went to see the turtles at the pool of the temple. Then we spotted owls. Later one after the other almost we could spot all the species of birds.
List of birds we spotted was very long ranging from owls, pigeons, pheasants, peacocks, snake birds, ducks, Sarus cranes, robins, herons, ibis, cormorants, spoonbills and storks, cranes, geese, coots, pelicans etc. Also one can spot deer, wild cat and antelopes among the wild animals.
There are series of water bodies inside the sanctuary and colonies of birds can be spotted everywhere. One has to be lucky to spot species of birds and also to click some good photos. We had ample to do photography and have collected some good memories. Soon its checkout time and we have to return to Delhi also. As we packed our bags, I cleared the bills. It’s not very expensive here. There is a small post office here in this Lodge, its open for 3 hours only being branch office. Basic post facilities can be availed from this counter. But only till 12:30 PM. We posted a letter from here to our home.
Soon after this we set to return for our home back in Delhi.