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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Keoladeo National Park

Sprawling across 873 hectares in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, Keoladeo Ghana National Park was declared a bird sanctuary in 1956, a national park in 1981 and a world heritage site in 1985. Situated between Agra and Jaipur, Bharatpur is merely 190 km from Delhi. Keoladeo is the name of the deity enshrine here since the ancient times and is one of the forms of Lord Shiva. 'Ghana', in Hindi, means 'thick forests'. Commonly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, it is said that this area was converted into a wildlife reserve by Prince Bhamji of Morvi state in Gujarat. Rulers of Bharatpur used to organize annual duck shoots to honor the visit of Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon and his party here, on 1st December 1902.One can see the stone plaques near the temple on which the names of all the dignitaries that have visited the area since 1902 have been engraved. Though the area was declared as a bird sanctuary ever since Independence, the ex-royalty of Bharatpur continued to enjoy their shooting rights till 1972. It was Dr Salim Ali who started the initial conservation efforts here in 1982. One can see more than 380 species of birds here including rare Siberian cranes. Its terrain consists of marshes and bogs, scrublands, grasslands and trees that lure the birds from all the countries to take refuge here during winters. The best time to visit the area is from August to November to see resident breeding birds while November to March is the season to see migratory birds.

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