Formerly known as Bharatpur National Park this bird sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Agra in north India. Interestingly there are three other UNESCO World Heritage Sites within fifty kilometers of this place. For people interested in history, nature, birding and photography all four can be comfortably managed in a weekend getaway from Delhi.
In spite of its global stature this national park has a uniquely Indian character. Instead of a 4x4 vehicle you travel in a cycle rickshaw. There is no engine noise which means you add another dimension to your wildlife experience. Secondly you slow down to an almost walking pace and city dwellers like me will find this very relaxing. The rickshaw drivers are well trained and can engage in informed conversations on birding in an endearingly rustic manner.
While most tourists visit during the period when migratory birds arrive, one can see many resident species at other times of the year. However it is not a good idea to visit during the summer and monsoon seasons. Early mornings and evenings are best as many species find the midday sun too harsh. It is a good idea to carry a good pair of binoculars. While most species are almost oblivious to human presence others are very shy and will take flight at the slightest perception of danger and usually maintain a safe distance. For photographers a long lens with wide aperture is recommended for pictures with good background blur and high shutter speed, especially in low light conditions. A monopod will not only reduce camera shake but will also mean less strain for your neck and forearms.
Keoladeo is a man-made bird sanctuary with a fragile ecosystem anchored around its water management system. But what makes this place special is that it is a hot spot in the annual migratory flight paths of birds that stretch for thousands of miles over the surface of the planet. It may be tempting to think that man is able to master the mysteries of nature. But the more deeply we attempt to understand nature the more we are humbled by its myriad intricacies.
For more on Keoladeo national park follow this link.