Keoladeo National Park was in the past known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, located at Bharatpur is very famous bird sanctuary known for rare endangered species of birds. Siberian cranes find this place more suitable during their migratory trip in winters.
The sanctuary dates back around 250 years and bears the name after Keoldeo temple present within the sanctuary. It happened to be a naturally occurring depression of land which got filled with water flooding after the construction of Ajan Bund by the then king Suraj Mal, who was ruling Bharatpur a princely state. The construction of bund was done where the two river waters of the Gambhir and Banganga merged together.
Initially the park was mainly used for hunting place. The maharajas of Bharatpur; were carrying on this tradition since 1850. There was duck shooting in an organized manner every year to honor of the British viceroys. During one of such shooting spree, more than 4000 birds including mallards and teals were killed by the then Governor-General of India.
During post independence period, the rulers of the princely states had the permission to shoot till 1972. Subsequently in 1982, the grazing in Keoladeo National Park got banned, due to which the Government witnessed great and demonstrations by affected farmers and Gurjar communities and there was wide spread violence.
The sanctuary offers favorable conditions for nesting needs of indigenous water- birds besides the migratory water birds. The sanctuary has populations of Sambar, Chital, Nilgai and Boar. There about 350 species of various birds present in the small wildlife park spread over 29 square kilometers out of which about 11 square kilometers is marsh and the rest is scrub and grassland.
Besides the birds it has become a major tourist spot on their list, when they arrive in India. Besides the tourists professional ornithologists all over world make it a point to come here every year during the birds breeding season to make record of bird’s activities. Since 1971 it is a protected sanctuary and also holds the world heritage status.
As far as Bharatpur town is concerned it is not having the looks of tourist town, being a very small town. The location of the bird sanctuary is at outskirts of the town being on Agra-Jaipur highway. There is a Bharatpur Forest lodge absolutely within the national park. There is entry ticket for the persons and the vehicle. The Forest lodge has the amenities of a three star hotel with concession in charges during off season period.
One can best use a Rickshaw puller, who are known to the place and take you around everywhere in the park, because of slow moving one can view the birds and stop for a moment wherever it is required. The local rickshaw pullers are quite knowledgeable and very cooperative and friendly in their behavior. In case one stays in the sanctuary for 3 days one can experience lot of bird watching.
To taste the local food one can go to Bhararpur town there quite few restaurants serving good food. After 10.00 PM every things get closed, so one should go before 10.00 PM so that after taking meals one can return back also in the National Park.
The Temple in the sanctuary is within walking distance from the Forest Lodge, It has a small pond. The Pujari of the temple is care taker of some of the animals in the sanctuary. When he throws wheat flour balls in the pond, it gives the indicating to big size turtles in the pond that their food has arrived and they come out water to feed on flour balls.