Birds, Forts and the Taj Mahal

It seems like bicycles have become staple fixtures in my trips.

This time it was a sudden weekend getaway imposed on the family by the CEOs of all Indian families (mostly), my mom. Any personal commitments, if made, were cancelled as we embarked on the road to Bharatpur, Rajasthan, for the Keoladeo National Park. Bharatpur is some 186 kms away from Delhi and we covered that distance in under 4 hours, reaching our lodgings, inside the park, by 8 PM.

A point to make note of is, the best time to visit the Keoladeo National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is November to March. But my father always travels in off-season, by principle, something which I have adopted. Your trip expenses come down by 40%, the places you visit are less crowdy, plus you get treated better, generally.

We stayed the night at Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, which has very good quality rooms at decent prices. But the food disappointed us, and the marketing gimmicks (complementary breakfast etc) they promised weren’t as expected, and this made, at least, me sore.

Bird watching is best when you do it early morning or late noon. So we got up at 4:30 AM the next day and left for the jungle at 6. You can hire bicycles, rickshaws and electric buggies or you can walk. Me and my equally young and handsome brother of course opted for the bicycles.

Me and my brother (left)

Now, off season sure has it downsides too, we didn’t see half the birds we could have seen, but we had twice the fun. My friends say I am one lucky bitch, and that is what our guide said (well, not bitch!) when it rained. The rains brought out the birds from their hiding, made the weather pleasant, and made a few those who had ventured into the park at this time, go back. We didn’t mind the rain and so had the huge park all to ourselves, absorbing the wide array of colors and scents it has to provide, alone. Not dwelling on what all we saw, my first bird watching experience was beautiful and informative. In contrast with Udaipur, this time we rode the cycles drenched in water, plush greenery all around us. The flora and fauna at display were so arresting, I had to mention it to my brother, “Nature is sexy!” (Yeah, I have an excellent vocabulary).


Continue reading