India's Bird Sanctuary
Located in eastern Rajasthan, about 176 kms away from Delhi, and 50 km west of Agra, is the Keoladeo Ghana or Bharatpur National Park, one of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India, nesting indigenous water- birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside birds. Sambar, chital, nilgai and boar also inhabit this national park. More than three hundred different kinds of birds can be found in this small park of 29 sq. km. of which 11 sq. km. are marshes and the rest scrubland and grassland.
The name Keoladeo comes from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the center of the park. 'Ghana' means dense, referring to the thick forest, which used to cover the area. While many of India's parks have been developed from the hunting preserves of princely India, Keoladeo Ghana is perhaps the only case where the habitat has been created by a maharaja. It is often full of the singing of birds and other animals.
In earlier times, Bharatpur town used to be flooded after almost every monsoon. In 1760, an earthen dam (Ajan Dam) was constructed, to save the town, from this destructive force of nature. The depression created by digging the soil for the dam was cleared and this became the Keoladeo Lake.
At the beginning of this century, this lake was developed, and was divided into several portions. A system of small dams, dykes, sluice gates, etc., was created to control water level in different sections. This became the hunting preserve of the Bharatpur royalty, and one of the best duck-shooting wetlands in the world. Hunting was prohibited by the mid-sixties, however, because of frequent complaints. The area was declared a national park on 10 March 1982, and accepted as a World Heritage Site in December 1985