After 7 years of relentless bird photography in many places, I finally made up my mind to visit Keoladeo National Park, also known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. I had always heard of people claiming it to be a birder’s paradise, but I did not really believe in it until I saw it in my own eyes.
Here is my story of what I saw, felt, and experienced in Keoladeo National Park…
Every morning at 6:30am the gate opens to many tourists, bird watchers, and bird photographers from across the world. The cycle rickshaw-walas will be waiting to take the tourists inside the 29 sq. km. park. Park authorities have standardised the process of rickshaw selection by lottery scheme and also the prices are fixed per hour. They have skilfully controlled any lobbying that usually happens with the tourists in such places. There is also a provision of renting the cycles for the tourists who like to go on their own.
For photographers with bigger telephoto lenses, they have made provision for Hotel guys to book the rickshaw for pick-up and drop service. Rickshaw-wala plays a very important role of being a guide as well as your assistant to carry your equipment. First time when he was holding my tripod and the camera, my heartbeat was uncontrollable. He was carrying my several years of savings, Nikon D750 + Nikkor 600mm f/4 VR + Gitzo 5542LS Carbon-fibre Tripod + Benro GH2 Gimbal Head, on his shoulder!
It was a great relief after a days’ time knowing that he was more capable of handling the camera equipment and tripod than me, at that time.
The moment you enter the park you will forget about the whole world and get immersed with the beauty of nature. The bird’s chirping, misty mornings of winter, amazing Sunrise behind the bald trees, everything makes you live the life to the fullest.
These graphically designed bald trees are a launching pad for our National Bird, Indian Peafowl. They are so beautiful, I love their call, and their hidden orange feathers as they fly. I have spent several days and hours waiting to capture that stunning moment when the Peacock is silhouetted against the rising Sun.
Want to see how the scene gets transformed when that happens? Here it is!
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What an extraordinary way to begin your day when you get to experience a scene like this. Truly amazing experience!
The Sun rays peeping through the trees as you enter the second gate of the park takes you to another world. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the Sun beams through the line of trees as the rickshaw-walas ride slowly through the mist.
On your way you will be greeted by these monkeys who are quite nice guys. They do not seem to disturb the tourists as they generally are famous far.
Many birds are already doing their morning karmas as they get ready to feed their night long hunger. Whether it is bathing, preening, or flying to another lake to feed it is a visual treat.
What makes Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary a preferred choice by many photographers from different parts of the world is the background that you get. Showing the birds and mammals in their natural habitat requires lot of visualization and needs complementing background.
There are several key attractions to Keoladeo National park that makes tourists to keep coming back. Be it the tallest flying birds Sarus Cranes, Spotted Owlets, Nightjars, Great White Pelicans, and Indian Darter to name a few.
The delight of watching these birds in amazing light in their natural habitat is a rejuvenating experience for anyone. I have met a fantastic people out there who visited the park as a one day trip out of there several days of trip to Rajasthan. But were so thrilled with the beauty of nature that they stayed there for several days!
I think this is the story with anyone who loves nature. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is magical. You have to be there to experience that magic. I must say Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is undoubtedly the best bird sanctuary in India.
It’s not only about birds; it also houses lot of mammals that are in no way discountable. You would love to watch them as they roam around without any fear of predators. You can watch their behaviour up close and make some unique and memorable photographs.
I can keep writing about Keoladeo National Park, but would I be able to make you feel the same way I feel about it?
That’s a question you have to answer!
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Do check out more photographs from this birder’s paradise in my portfolio website Prathap Photography.