Introducing Keoladeo Ghana National Park
By far the best time to visit this park (Indian/foreigner Rs 25/200, video Rs 200;
The best times for bird-spotting are either early morning or evening. Expect to see Saras cranes (and its spectacular courtship dance), herons, egrets, geese, owls, cormorants and kingfishers. Pythons are most commonly seen in the winter, when they come out from underground to sunbathe. The southern reaches are a web of deserted, tangled paths, and are officially closed, as a tigress is rumoured to roam the area.
The sanctuary was once a vast semiarid region, filling with water during the monsoon season but drying up afterwards. To prevent this, the maharaja of Bharatpur diverted water from a nearby irrigation canal and soon birds began to settle in vast numbers.
Yet in a 2006 report, Unesco urged that a permanent backup source of water for the park be established, as drought (along with unchecked cattle grazing) had caused serious damage. The previous year, a government attempt to divert water from the nearby Panchana dam came up against strong opposition from local villagers.
Admission entitles you to one entrance per day; if you want to spend the day inside, get your hotel to provide a packed lunch. Carry drinking water, as bird-watching is thirsty work.
One narrow road (no motorised vehicles permitted) runs through the park, with countless embankments leading off into the greenery. Only the government-authorised cycle-rickshaws (recognisable by the yellow plate bolted onto the front) are allowed inside. You don’t pay admission for the drivers, but they charge Rs 100 per hour. A guide costs Rs 150 per hour.
An excellent way to see the park is to hire a bike (around Rs 40 per day), either at the entrance or from your hotel.
This compact Indian journey will introduce you to three very different northern cities and the colourful rural life of Rajasthan. From the hectic pace of Delhi with its bustling markets, magnificent monuments and colonial past, travel by private transport to Agra and the mesmerizing beauty of the Taj Mahal—truly one of the wonders of the world.
North India Adventure
Visit the walled cities of Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and the Pink City of Jaipur before cycling the backroads to the spectacular Taj Mahal