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The park got its name as Keoladeo Ghana Park on account of an ancient Shiva Temple at the center of the park, and the word 'Ghana' means dense and thick forest which covers the entire area. Commonly referred to as Bharatpur, it is known by the name of the adjoining town of Bharatpur, which is also the name of the king who established the park. It was the former duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. Initially, it was a vast semi - arid region, filling with water during monsoon season. To prevent this, Maharaja Suraj Mal, the then ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur made an artificial lake and Ajan Bundh dam between 1726 to 1763 and within a few years, birds began to settle in vast numbers. Rumor is that his primary concern was not the conservation , he used the park as his hunting estate and the daily shoot was reputed to be as high as 100,000 birds. However, Maharaja Brajendra Singh converted the estate into a Bird Sanctuary in 1956 and the indiscriminate shooting of birds continued until shooting was banned in 1964 by the India Government. Bharatpur was declared a National Park in March 10, 1982 credited to the efforts of eminent ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali. In December 1985, Keoladeo Ghana was accepted as a World Heritage Site.
Known as 'the heaven for birds', the park has served as an alternative habitat for migratory and subcontinent birds, both aquatic and non aquatic. More than 132 of them breed inside the Keoladeo Ghana National Park and nearly every year new ones are added to the list. Around 120 species of migratory birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia arrive in the park annually, including Siberian Crane, Porment, E- Grade, Snake bird, White Irish, Spoon and Padent. But the last few years, has seen a substantial decrease in the number of migratory birds because of the water crisis. The Siberian crane which breed in Siberia usually visit this park during November- December after covering a distance of 4,000km and go back in March. This species is critically endangered. The number of those cranes visiting the park has dwindled sharply from 100 in 1976 to just 5 in 1993. Now the park is facing de-recognition from the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Site.
The sanctuary has 11 sq km wide lake, which is the main food source of these birds. The park boasts of birds like Open bill Stork, Painted Stork, White Ibis, Spoonbill, Large Cormorant, Shag, Little Cormorant, Darter, Rose Ringed Parakeets, Drongos, Great Egret, Indian Rollers, Shikra, Black Winged Kite, Grey Shrike, Magpie Robins, Brahminy starlings, black stork, Large Egret, Median Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Night Heron and many other varied and amazing resident species of birds.
Besides a large species of bird population, the park is also home to Sambar, Chital, Nilgai, Black buck, Wild boar, Civet, Blue Bull Antelope, Jackal, Hyena, Snake, Python etc - all Indian species of deer.
The park is managed by the Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) under the aegis of the Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan.
Director, Keoladeo National Park
The park is open throughout the year for visitors from
6 am to 6pm. August to October is the breeding season and November
to February is the best time to visit, since the park is frequented by
Northern Hemisphere migratory birds. South side of the park is better
than the north for bird watching and one can see numerous birds even in
a duration as short as 2 hrs.Prior permission from the Warden or Ranger
is needed to enter the park. Ticket for entry costs Rs.25 per head.
A Boat ride through the lake also offers a good view of the park when the water level is high, and it can be booked at the Tourist Reception Centre (near the ITDC Hotel) at Rs100 per hour.
Extra charges are levied for cameras and photographic equipment. (Rs 200 for a Video camera and Rs 25 for a Still Camera).
Tips : It is advisable to carry a Sun hat, Binocular, water
Lohagarh Fort or Iron Fort
Located 3 km away from the park is the Lohagarh Fort. Built in 1730, by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the fort appears solid even after many attacks by the British. The fort is surrounded by high walls and a 46 m wide moat. The fort houses three palaces namely Mahal Khas, Kamra Palace and the Palace of Badan Singh. There is a government museum in the fort, which exhibits sculptures, paintings, weapons and animal trophies. It is open daily except on Fridays and gazetted holidays. Opening time from 10 am to 4.30 pm.