Keoladeo Ghana National Park is one of the finest bird parks in the world and now it has a distinction of being a World Heritage Site. It is a bird lover's paradise with more than 380 species of birds both indigenous and migratory. Keoladeo Ghana National Park is located in Bharatpur District, Rajasthan. It lies between two historical cities of Agra and Jaipur. It was set up as a bird sanctuary in the year 1956. Unlike other parks in India which have developed from the hunting preserves, the habitat of Keoladeo Ghana National Park was created by the then Maharaja of Bharatpur. The area is not very large with only 232 sq km total area. In the year 1981, it was declared as a National Park and finally in 1985 as World Heritage Site. The name Keoladeo is derived from an ancient Hindu temple of Lord Shiva and 'Ghana' refers to the thick forest.
This magnificent bird sanctuary came into being paradoxically as a duck shooting preserve for Maharaja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur. He transformed the shallow depression formed by the confluence of Gambhir River and Ban Ganga River into a reservoir by damming the rainwater in monsoons. Flooding of water created shallow wetland ecosystem causing it to be a perfect habitat for an astounding variety of birds.
Over 380 species of birds are found in this wild life sanctuary. A greater part of the area consists of marshes and scrubland. The major tourist attractions of Keoladeo Ghana National Park are the migratory birds that come from as far as Siberia and Central Asia to spend their winters in Bharatpur. Cranes, Stints, Wagtails Pelicans, Hawks, Shanks, Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Pipits, Flycatchers and Wheatears are among the migratory birds. Keoladeo is regarded as the best Waterfowl sanctuary of the world. Migratory waterfowl begin to arrive in the month of October. Soon the marshlands are full with colourful Geese, pelicans, Greater Flamingos, ducks, and cranes. But the Siberian cranes are the focus of attention. During the monsoons thousands of egrets, cormorants, herons, storks, darters, and spoonbills breed here. Small Acacia trees are closely knit together with nests of several species of birds. Recently the number of Siberian cranes arriving in Keoladeo Ghana National Park has decreased considerably because of their suspected hunting on their migratory route. Keoladeo Ghana National Park is also an outstanding place to spot animals like Golden Jackal, Striped Hyena, Jungle Cat, Sambar, Blackbuck, Fishing Cat, Nilgai and wild Boar.
Inside Keoladeo Ghana National Park, there are distinct forest tracks. October to February is the best season for visiting Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The ideal time to visit it is either early in the morning or in the evening. As far as reaching Keoladeo Ghana National Park is concerned the Delhi airport is about 5 to 6 hours from the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and the railway station is just six km from the park. Train services are available with all the major cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Agra and Jaipur. Even by road Bharatpur is connected to all major cities of Rajasthan as well as from cities of neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.