|The natural shallow depressions near the city of Bharatpur when temporarily filled with rain water provided an aquatic habitat and attracted water birds till they dried up. The credit of
converting this area into a world famous wildfowl reserve goes to Prince Bhamji of Morvi State in Gujarat. He was appointed as a Regent of Bharatpur State towards the end of the nineteenth century. A number
of bunds, dykes and embankments were built and provided with sluice gates to regulate the water in the water bodies so created. These were filled up by releasing water from Ajan Bund, a ten kilometer long
flood control weir, built some 250 years ago. Duck shoots were organized in the area every year by the rulers of Bharatpur in honour of British and Indian dignitaries. First shoot was organized in honour
of the Viceroy Lord Curzon and his party on 1st December, 1902. The exploits of all visiting dignitaries since 1902 have been engraved on stone plaques standing near the Keoladeo temple. Largest number of
birds were killed on 12th November, 1938, by Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy & Governor General of India and his party. After independence of the country this reserve was notified as a bird sanctuary but the former
rulers of Bharatpur continued to enjoy the shooting rights over the area till 1972. The area was notified as National Park in 1981. However, the notification could be made effective only in November 1982.
This complex eco-system of shallow fresh water swamps, dry savanna grass land and woodlands, supports a vast variety and abundance of wildlife. Over 370 species of birds belonging to 56 families have been
identified in the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Around 130 species of birds nest within the park itself. Every year, the arrival of the monsoon marks the beginning of nesting activity in these marshes. In
the years of normal rainfall, between ten to twenty thousand nests are built, by storks, egrets, herons, ibises, darters, cormorants and spoonbills, in a short span of about one and half month, on the
Acacia trees planted in the marshes. The composition and complexion of nesting colonies change with each passing day. Observing the behaviors of birds during this period is a fascinating experience. Experts
consider it as one of the best heronary of the world. Winter migrants starts arriving in the park form September onwards. Pintail, shoveller, gadwall, wigeon, poachards and geese arrive in the large numbers.
The non-aquatic eco-system of the park is also rich in wildlife. It also provides a habitat suitable for land birds. Mammals like deers, antelopes, wild boar, cats, jackals and hyena, etc. and reptiles like
the pythons and monitor lizards are common. The park is open to the visitors throughout the year, but it is more rewarding to visit it between August to March. The best way to see the park is, of course,
is a bicycle or a cycle rickshaw. They are available on hire. Rickshaw pullers have been trained by the park management in bird watching and are quite knowledgeable. Boats are also available on hire. A boat trip
early in the morning or late evening is quite rewarding experience.