Keoladeo Ghana National Park, more popularly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary has one of the most prolific bird life in the country. This national park takes its name from the god Keoladeo, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, enshrined in a small temple within the park. The word 'Ghana' means 'dense' and refers to the thick forest, which used to cover the area in the past.
Today, the Park supports a population of 375 species of birds along with many mammals and reptiles. The most notable winter visitors to the Park are the rare Siberian Cranes, whose numbers have dwindled to only two over the years. The animal variety includes: Golden Jackal, Striped Hyena, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Nilgai, Sambhar, Blackbuck and Wild Boar among others. The wide variety of birds includes Common Demoiselle, Siberian Crane, Coot Snipes, Spanish Sparrow, Red Crested Porhard, Rosy Pelican and Flamingo, among others.
Stretching over no more than 29 square meters, two-thirds of the Park lies under water and the remaining one-third is covered in dry deciduous forests and extensive grasslands.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary In the late 19th century, this area was used by Prince Bhamji of Morvi state, Gujarat, as a hunting preserve. Gradually, it became popular with the ruler of Bharatpur. On one occasion held in honor of Viceroy Lord Curzon in 1902, thousands of birds were killed and their exploits engraved on stone plaques standing near the Keoladeo Temple, standing tall in the heart of the Sanctuary.
After Indian independence, the Reserve was notified as a Bird Sanctuary. However, it was not till 1972 that shooting and killing was banned in the area.
Bharatpur was declared a National Park in 1981 credited to the efforts of eminent ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali.