Keoladeo National Park: A birder’s delight

A misty morning and the winter chill welcome me as I stuff my numb hands deeper in my pockets. The outline of greenery in the fog becomes clearer as I walk past the entrance of the Keoladeo National Park.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

It is the month of January and the place is exceptionally quiet with the occasional chirping of birds and just a handful of tourists.

Cycle rickshaws are lined up in the compound, with each driver having a registered ID. Having done my homework impeccably well, I promptly ask for Devi Singh, the guide online reviewers raved about.

They don’t bat their eyelids, like they aren’t surprised at all and point to a man sitting under a tree, immersed in a birder guide book.

Ten minutes later, I am left in awe of Devi Singh’s knowledge of birds.

We walked through the park with marshy wetlands on one side and dry, grassy patches on the other. Devi constantly on the look out, his eyes peering into the foliage.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

The Keoladeo National park  is a paradise for amateur birders. With over 250 bird species (resident and migratory), it acts as a great learning centre for those who wish to learn about birds and their habitat.


Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Our first sighting is of the White-throated Kingfisher, perched on a tree amidst the wetlands.

Kingfisher at Keoladeo National Park
The white throated kingfisher

Devi walked through the foliage like a pro, calling out to the birds and explaining about the habitat.

A variety of Kingfishers:

The water in the Keoladeo National Park  is routed from the River Chambal and this park allows avid bird enthusiasts to cycle through or walk across the park in sheer wilderness.

People who cannot walk can hire cycle rickshaws where the drivers double up as guides.

There is no way one can get lost here. One straight path under tree canopies leads the way and there are several perpendicular diversions.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Pond herons take small flights and several grey herons can be seen in the water bodies.

The migratory season is November-February with varied species of birds flying to the Keoladeo park. I am stunned to see the enormous colony of painted storks, huddled together, perched on trees. They gave ample time to the photo enthusiasts with tripods to observe their feeding patterns and click every movement.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary


Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary


Devi seems to communicate with the birds in a language known only to him. He calls out to them and knows exactly where they reside. You cannot help but smile at this camaraderie. 

While a flock of Spoonbills frolics in the ponds, a Snakebird sunbathes with its wings left to dry and a pair of Pelicans glide away merrily, I marvel at the picturesque landscape.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Pelicans at Keoladeo National Park
A pair of Pelicans

It is a different world. A mosaic of dry and wetlands. The incessant chirping of birds and the whistling of trees.  The rustling sound of treading on dry leaves completes the scene. Nature’s very own playlist.




Our next sighting is a sleepy Spotted owlet, perched on the tree, watching us keenly with one eye open.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

The name Keoladeo is derived from Lord Shiva’s name: Keoladev. There is also an ancient Shiv Temple in the premises.

Besides the birds, Keoladeo is a treat to the eyes for nature lovers.

One can stroll around, soaking the serenity of the place, watching the mesh of trees sprawling in the water, with glistening reflections.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

The next hour is eventful.

I almost let out a gasp as I see a Monitor lizard dangling right above me, lazying on a tree branch.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Before I recover from the shock, Devi Singh quickly distracts me and shows me a python cuddled up next to a bush.

If he hadn’t pointed it out, probably I wouldn’t even notice it. It was so well camouflaged!

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

It is time to bid adieu to this wonderful landscape, the magnificent grasslands and all the flying beauties.


I leave with a promise to return next winter.

As they soar above me, I smile, wishing them a “Bon Voyage” to wherever they are heading.

Painted stork at Keoladeo
A painted stork in flight

Best time to visit:

The migratory season of the birds is during winters. Best time to get maximum possible sightings is from November to February. Make sure you book your air tickets to Jaipur or Delhi in these months or train tickets to Bharatpur.


Expect to see:

Water Birds:  Varied types of Herons, storks, teals, ducks, cormorants, shovelers, sandpipers, spoonbills, Pelicans and Ibis.

Land birds: Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Eagles, Green pigeons, Warblers, Babblers, Quails, Chats, Francolins, Owls.


Mammals: Nilgai, Sambhar deer, Bengal fox, Jackals, Indian porcupine, Mangoose, Hyenas, and Civets.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Best time for birding: Early morning and right before sunset.

Winters provide umpteen photo opportunities despite the fog.

Food: You can ask your Guide to get your family a packed lunch inside the park.

The lunch comprised of simple yet delectable Indian food: Rotis, Rice, Paneer matar and Dal Tadka.

This is extremely convenient as you can continue clicking without having to go out of the park for lunch.

How to reach:

Keoladeo National Park makes up for an ideal winter weekend getaway from Delhi.

Others can scout for air tickets to Delhi and head to Bharatpur via the Expressway: 183 KM.

From Jaipur it is 191 Km and 58 Km from Agra.

Entrance fees:

The ticket is Rs 200 per foreign visitors and Rs 75 for Indian visitors.

Clothing: It is very important to know that bright coloured clothing is a strict no no for birding and it is best to wear earthy colours to blend in the environment. Here is a list of trousers you can wear in the outdoors!

62 thoughts on “Keoladeo National Park: A birder’s delight

  1. Amazing pictures! Feeling like if I had wings…I would fly over there right now!

    By the way, the Black redstart and Magpie Robin come to my garden daily…. seeing your pictures, I’m considering myself even luckier to have such guests… 🙂

  2. Great pictures Divsi. I visited in october last year and was amazed at the Painted storks there and the monitor lizards basking in the sun !

  3. Such an amazing wonderland this, Divsi! It’s the screen of a computer but the Keoladeo national park just jumped to life. Gorgeous post; many thanks for taking me along!

  4. You pretty much had the trip of a lifetime by going there. Nature at its best!

    I so wish now I had a knowledgeable travel guide in my company when we visited some parks for spotting birds.

    1. That’s true. Having someone who knows about the place with you changes your entire experience. Thanks for reading Alok! It was a trip I did in 2012 and I still remember it so vividly:)

  5. You have such excellent knowledge about birds… The kingfishers looks beautiful … They are my favorite. I am lost in the beauty of the place… The streams, the foliage… So beautiful and peaceful.

    1. Thanks Rajlakshmi! But I am just an amateur. Love birding and have been picking it up from my expert birder friends. Even in this post a few identifications were done by my friend Doreen:)
      Thanks for reading!

  6. Roaming around in woods and sighting chirpy and coulourful birds everywhere would transport you to some Disney wonderland 😀 Just that this place is so real and cool.
    I get super excited in National parks and sanctuaries and I am sure this place would have the same effect on me. Loved the post 😀

  7. Omg!I have never seen such beauty anywhere – TV or magazines or websites. I loved the way your shared your experience and of course the pictures are more than gorgeous. Not sure if the word stunning would suffice what I see here. So happy that you traveled to see and document these, D.
    I am sure going to think about this national park and visit as soon as possible.

    1. Parul, a heart felt thank you for your kind words. You absolutely made my day 🙂 Thanks so much! Glad you feel like visiting. Let me know whenever you plan to go 🙂

  8. Great photos as always Divsi! What a stunning environment. I love the colors and the sun although it looks like summers (result of living in colder part of Europe for over 5 years..) here. The first Kingfisher is gorgeous! And all the other birds are too of course. I am generally not a fan of snakes, and they give me the creeps, but the python on your photo doesn’t look so scary. How near were you guys from it? How big was it? :O
    I saw monitor lizards for the first time last year in Sri Lanka. Majestic creatures.
    The national park looks like such an easy day trip option from Delhi. I’ve to visit Delhi and other parts of India one day. 🙂

    1. Thanks Pooja! 🙂 I visited the place way back in 2012 and the memories are still so fresh in my mind. Kingfishers are my favourite 🙂 The python was a baby python, we were barely 6 feet away. To be honest, the monitor lizard creeped me more than the snake. It is a day trip option, but make sure you stay a night, so you can visit it in the early morning for great light and sightings!


  9. Wow. I had been planning to go here last year. I could not go and seems like it’s unlikely for me this year too. Loved your pictures. I was most excited about Python and Pelicans. This place sure sounds exciting.

  10. Such a wonderful post Divsi! I loved the narration, the awesome clicks and the way you took us through your experience. It was almost we were all travelling with you. I am so inspired by this that I’ve decided to make a trip to Keoladeo sometime soon. The lizard and python almost took my breath away, I mean seeing them at such close quarters isn’t an everyday thing. I’d be frozen to see that for sure, but then, thats the thrill!

  11. Such gorgeous landscapes.. lovely write up Divyakshi. And man- so many birds.. I have been to 2 national parks till date, but haven’t seen so many birds in one go.. 🙂

  12. Such a beautiful National Park. It is great to be accessible to everyone. Those bird are just stunning. I love the Kingfishers. There is something about walking along and listening to birds chirping is such a magical thing. Very relaxing. Great post. I felt like I was there walking with you. Thank you for sharing.

  13. wow, this is so cool! I got into birding a little bit when I was in Africa. Not so much in the Netherlands as the birds are a lot less colorful. I love kingfishers and those painted storks also look pretty cool.

  14. Wow, I had no idea you could see all of those birds in India.. well I guess I don’t really know where all of the birds in the world are anyway. What a great place to go. I wouldn’t know what the birds are called but I’d love to see them. ^^

  15. Keoladeo NP looks gorgeous, Divsi, and your photos are wonderful. Fantastic variety of wildlife here; I always appreciate the birds, and that python is huge!

  16. WOW! I’ve never been into bird watching but this place has made me want to! The Kigfisher bird looks so beautiful! I just remembered that there’s a beer brand from the South of India called Kingfisher and the logo is a bird. Now I understand why! Thanks for sharing 😉

  17. Divyakshi….I am in awe of your captures. It must be so amazing to spot these and I can well imagine your excitement while doing so. I particularly love the reds amidst the greens landscape pics.

  18. I never thought that birdwatching was such a big thing. But it is! Last Christmas I went into the wood with a friend birdwatcher and he showed me how wonderful is this hobby. And so peaceful! Just loved your picture of the white throated kingfisher. How cool are those colors!!

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