Venue: Bharatpur & Deeg
Last weekend we managed a getaway to Bharatpur, popular for its Bird Sanctuary (Now known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park).
We started at about 8 am on Saturday and our route from Gurgaon was via Faridabad – Ballabhgarh – Palwal – Hodal – Kosi – Mathura to Bharatpur which is at the Rajasthan border. The drive was slightly slow because of the dense fog even during afternoon. However, given the surreal view of the foggy-misty highways – no complaints and we reached at about 1 pm.
Kiran Vila Palace, where we put up is hardly 50 metres from the Sanctuary. Plus the room was spacious, clean and aesthetically done. Although the room service was a little slow, overall, the place emitted positive vibes.
We rested for a bit; charged our phones and were off to the city for sight seeing on rickshaws (motor cars are not allowed in the market)
We visited the Bharatpur Fort, huge in size and replete with a moat. In the Fort area, we visited a museum that contained some articles that belonged to the ruling Jat royal family. It also had some statues from various time period (8th century A.D.) onward. However the display was poor and there was hardly any staff to help. The building was magnificent though and the sprawling structure provided various photo ops.
We also visited the local market (the “CP” of sleepy town Bharatpur) and visited the Laxman temple and the Ganga temple. Both these deities are not known to command individual shrines. However, the temples in pink stone, typical of Rajasthan, were ornamental due to carvings, clean and impressive.
The Banke Bihari Mandir was also here and seemed to be a popular temple among the locals.
The next morning, we visited the Bird Sanctuary which is officially called Keoladeo Ghana National Park. It is spread over 29 sq km and is known to have approximately 230 varieties of birds. There were bicycle, e-rickshaw, horse carriage options but we hired a cycle rickshaw and the rickshaw driver doubled as the guide. He, like an experienced ornithologist, spotted a wide range of birds.
But, the star attraction was a python which we saw by sheer luck. It appears that spotting a python is rare and as the word spread, many people came askance about the python. But, like a typical star, our Mr. Python liked privacy, and by that time, had slid away.
We also saw Deer, Chital and a Lizard which looked like a broken branch of a tree and.
The expedition to the bird sanctuary is an experience notwithstanding if one is a bird watcher or a wild life enthusiast. The sprawling trees, the natural / artificial lakes and the calls of the varieties of birds roosting filled us with awe of nature – of life. We spent a large part of the day here and could have continued but – our regular lives pulled us back.
We went back to the hotel, checked out and drove to Deeg, about 35 kms from Bharatpur.
Deeg Palace was built around 1772 as the summer resort for the Bharatpur rulers. It houses impressive buildings in pink / yellow sand stone / marble and is heavily influenced by Mughal architecture (not surprising since Agra and Fatehpur Sikri are very close).
The palace apparently has 2000 fountains (!) that operate from 4 oversized water tanks and sprinkle coloured water. In fact, late in August and on February 4 every year, the fountains come to live on the initiative of the Government Tourist Department.
There is a Hanuman Mandir inside the palace and the life size idol, in brownish semi-precious stone wore a happy smile.
We spent about 2 hours here and was shown around by an ASI employee (We think) and then embarked on our drive back to Delhi at about 4.45 pm.
Barring a bottle neck, the rest of the drive was smooth and we reached Gurgaon at 8.30 pm, Sunday.
It wass a perfect trip for two days. It is hard to believe that we had covered such a lot just over a weekend!