The Keolodeo Ghana National Park or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary lies between two of India's most historic cities Agra and Jaipur. The name keoladeo is derived from the name of an ancient Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva in the sanctuary. s central zone while the Hindi term 'Ghana' implies dense, thick areas of forest cover.
The marshes of Keoladeo, more popularly known as Bharatpur, was the private hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. It was developed in the late 19th century by creating small dams and bunds in an area of natural depression to collect rainwater and by feeding it with an irrigation canal. Over the years, the lakes attracted great numbers of waterfowl and the Maharajas held grand shoots with family, friends and visiting dignitaries.
Two-thirds of the park lies under water, the extent and volume depending on the intensity of the rains. The remaining one-third of the park is covered in dry deciduous forests (with Acacia, Ber, Kadam and Khajur trees) and extensive grasslands. On the raised ground outlining the wetlands grow a profusion of Acacia trkees, where the resident water birds nest, often in large mixed colonies, a spectacular sight during the monsoon.
Keoladeo is famous as one of Asia's finest birding areas, with over 380 resident and migrant species, including the Common, Demoiselle and the rare Siberian Cranes. It is also an excellent place to watch mammals like Golden Jackal, Striped Hyaena, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Nilgai, Sambar, Blackbuck and wild Boar. The park derives its name from the temple of Keoladeo (Shiva) and 'ghana' which locally means dense, implying the nature of the vegetation. During the cool winter months it is also possible to see large Indian Pythons sunning themselves.