The only good thing in the office routine, are the weekends away from the city. Sometimes I feel I am in relationship with my laptop and my office chair. Well weekends are the only elixir keeping the spirits high. Wish somebody pays for traveling , only the chosen one’s are lucky.
One has to explore the spots according to liking and budget / time constraints. Bharatpur (Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary) is located approximately 3 to 4 hrs drive from Delhi. The overall road journey is OK with traffic jams near Faridabad. The better way is to take morning trains. There are decent hotels near the bird sanctuary. It is advisable to do advance booking in winter season. There is one tourism dept resort in the forest but the rent is higher.
The ideal time to visit the park is during morning and evening time. The best views are at dawn and the sunset.The foggy mornings also present some great views. Early morning you can see the peacocks walking on the low branches of trees.A herd of deer crossed us on the main road and it was a wonderful sight. There are various transportation modes available. It is advisable to do one trip with a guide in a rickshaw to get the feel of the roads , spots to find birds and the details of the forest. If you have energy and time walking is the best option in second visit.
There are plenty of poisonous snakes in the forest so one has to be careful. I was lucky to witness a mongoose and snake fight. The fight was disturbed by school children and mongoose left the snake for sometime.The mongoose won in the end and ran away with the food.We watchers felt sad for the snake but that’s how the food chain works.
The problem with going on weekends is there is too much crowd and many of the visitors do not follow the golden rule of maintaining silence. This scares the birds, plus you can’t ask children to be quiet. The painted stork colonies are less disturbed because of noise and you need a good binocular to observe them. In the aquatic birds Cormorant can be seen fishing and it is a nice sight to watch. There are kingfishers, pond heron, grey heron by the shallow waters fishing. During the first visit I was lucky to see a Baya weaver in work.
When you go for the second round you can take the bicycle and explore on your own. The watch towers are a bit far and have comparatively quiet surroundings. There are small forest paths one can take and explore the sanctuary but it is advisable to do it in a group. In some areas, the grass is as high as 5ft and it is difficult to spot what’s inside.
There is provision for boating but is yet commence. The marsh land is maintained by using water from nearby reservoirs. There are different types of fish in the water body. Cat fish with size of around 1 to 2 ft was spotted on the surface. The Guide told that the aquatic birds feasted on smaller size cat fish but he also said that the larger sized cat fish sometimes can attack the aquatic birds.
There is a small canteen in the middle of forest reserve but is open in the peak season. Carrying own water and dry food is desirable. Avoid taking too much plastic and bring back everything outside the sanctuary.
Bharatpur also has a fort but compared to the sanctuary it is a dull prospect. The whole trip can be planned with one night stay. Make friends with guides, locals and shop owner inside to get tips on the forest, it really helps. Getting a good bicycle is also a difficult task. All the good bicycles are gone in a flash in the morning. You need a photo Id to rent a bicycle. Do wear full sleeves to avoid insect bites.
Bharatpur is an easily accessible sanctuary with less restrictions for visitors. I have enjoyed my two visits to the place and planning a third one to catch the migrant birds.
Happy Travelling !