The only Jat kingdom in the state, the rock-hard mud fortifications of its fort proved invincible even under repeated siege. The fort houses early remnants of artifacts and sculpture, while the modern palace outside is a sprawling structure. However, Bharatpur is better known as a bird sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park).
Founded by Maharaja Suraj Mal in 1733 AD, Bharatpur - The 'Eastern Gateway to Rajasthan', was once an impregnable well fortified city, carved out of the region formerly known as Mewat. The trio of Bharatpur, Deeg and Dholpur has played an important part in the history of Rajasthan. The place was named as Bharatpur after the name of Bharat, the brother of Lord Rama, whose other brother Laxman was worshipped as the family deity of the Bharatpur. The legends say the rulers Laxman's name is engraved on the state arms and the seals. The city and the fort have been believed to be founded by Rustam, a Jat of Sogariya clan. Maharaja Suraj Mal took over from Khemkaran, the son of Rustam, and established the empire. He fortified the city by building a massive wall around the city.
The 55 km Long journeys by road from Agra drives you to the town of Bharatpur – the eastern gateway to Rajasthan . Bharatpur is popular for its bird sanctuary-the Keoladeo Ghana National Park – finest in Asia with a rich avian variety . Every year the rare Siberian cranes come to spend the winter in the warmer climate of Bharatpur . Of the remnants of the royal past remains the marvelous Bharatpur Palace housing a rich repository of large number of ancient exhibits that date back to the early 15th century.
Bharatpur's bus stand is in the west of town near Anah Gate, just off NH-11. If you're arriving from Fatehpur Sikri , get off well before, when the bus stops at the crossroads on the opposite side of town near the park gates, as this is nearer all the hotels and guesthouses. From the main bus stand, services run to all major centres in Rajasthan (including Jaipur) and to Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. Two kilometres northwest, the railway station lies on the main Delhi-Mumbai line. There are also two fast trains to Agra (2hr) and one to Amritsar (14hr), and an express service to Sawai Madhopur (2hr 30min). The town's tourist office (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm), where you can pick up good state maps and information on Bharatpur and the sanctuary, stands at the crossroads near the park entrance where Fatehpur Sikri buses pull in.
Cycle rickshaws are the main form of transport within the city, but fares for the long haul in and out of town soon mount up, and it makes sense to rent a bicycle , either from your hotel (around Rs35/day) or the shop on NH-11 outside the Spoonbill Restaurant . If you need to change money , head for the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Binarayan Gate (Mon-Fri 10am-2pm, Sat 10am-noon).
Places to see
Keoladeo National Park
This would be any bird-watching enthusiasts first choice. Once the royal hunting ground of the princes of Bharatpur, the Bharatpur Keoladeo National Park is one of the finest habitat of birds in the world. Bubbling with over 400 species of resident water birds, the park is furthermore populated by the annual influx of birds from colder countries (during winter season). Exotic migratory birds from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet as well as Siberia, the Arctics and China, come here in the months of October/ November to spend the winters.
The Lohagarh Fort (also known as Iron Fort) was built in the early part of 18th century by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the founder of Bharatpur. Supposedly taking its name from its invincible defense, the massive iron structure prides in being one of the few impregnable structures of Rajasthan in India. The fort complex holds three exquisitely built palaces namely - Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas. Two of eight imposing towers - Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj still stands in pride within the fort complex. These towers were built to symbolise his victory over the Mughals and the British rulers.
The Government Museum has a rich collection of artefacts, brilliantly carved sculptures and ancient inscriptions. All these items speak volumes about the rich heritage, art and crafts of the region.
Summers are too hot here, whereas the winters are extremely cold. The best time to visit this park is in the winters, between the months of October & February. In the Summer, Light tropical clothes and in Winter, Light wollen clothes are recommended.
How To Reach
By Air : Agra 55kms from Bharatpur has the nearest airport.
By Rail : Regular rail services connect Bharatpur with several cities of India. Besides Jaipur and Agra, the railways of Bharatpur also connect all the cities on Delhi -Mumbai trunk route.
Some important train connections are
Golden Temple Mail (Mumbai-Bharatpur-Jammu Tawi); Intercity Express (Hazrat Nizamuddin-Bharatpur); Paschim Express (New Delhi-Bharatpur-Mumbai).
Frequent bus services links Bharatpur with several cities within and outside the State.