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Delhi to Bharatpur : a road guide
I was travelling from Delhi to Dibrugarh when an article caught my attention. The article informed that migratory birds have
returned to Bharatpur this year. Thanks to a real good monsoon, the canals in Bharatpur had received good amount of water this year. That was a fantastic piece of news. When I visited the park last year, it was all dry. Park authorities tried to keep the park alive by pumping up water using two bore wells. That was really pathetic. We saw a few birds in that small marshland kept alive by pumping water. The birds we saw could be counted on finger tips. We saw more sambhar deers and nilgais than birds. But a walk through the park could make anyone feel how wonderful this place could have been with water and birds.

I feel lucky that my wish had been fulfilled so fast. So on my return to Delhi, we headed for Bharatpur on the next available weekend for a second trip. Being just 180 km from Delhi, it can be easily covered in a weekend trip. We decided to drive down rather than taking the train (2060 Kota Janashatabdi) as this would involve reaching station by hiring a cab, then wait there and get transported to hotel at Bharatpur. The only enticing part by train is that at 80 rupees tickets are really cheap. However this will be the best option for a couple or small family. On reaching the hotel we were informed that there is enough water in the park this time that even the boat ride is also operational. That was real good news. The park had benefited not only from the huge rainfall this year, but the extra water from the dams nearby was also released to the park.

We headed for the park soon after lunch. As I am familiar with the park, we preferred the
cycle as mode of conveyance. We were really delighted to find lot of birds from close range. Hordes of Painted Stork and Black Ibis had nested very close to the road. There were various varieties of heron and ducks. We were lucky to see a pair of famed saras crane in the morning trip next day. We got to see one pair last time as well in an evening trip. But that time the birds were at some distance. This time the pair was close enough to be within the range of my 300mm lens. This was the icing on the cake.

Other than those mentioned above, this is what we saw: a rabbit, couple of jackals bold enough to roam in broad daylight, three different species of owls, cormorants, snake bird, grey heron, purple heron, mud turtles, two different species of kingfisher, moorhen, sambhar deer, spotted deer and nilgais. I left out few common birds which we often see in our backyards like robbin, bulbul, Indian mayna and babler.

We had two trips this time. One on the afternoon of the day of arrival and another early next morning. Both the trips were on cycle. Approx cost incurred was rupees 3000. Summing up the trip: it was really worth the time and money spent.

Driving directions from Delhi to Bharatpur:
I downloaded a driving direction from indiacar.com. It was useful. But need some modification as follows:
1) No comments on the distances till Vrindavan or rather the point at which you need to turn left for Vrindavan. This is because the distances between Delhi-Vrindavan will vary a few kilometers depending on where in Delhi you start. In any case you need to reach Badarpur border, whether you make it by the Mathura road via Ashram / New Friends Colony or by the Mehrauli-Badarpur road.

2) We stopped at Sagar Ratna resort after crossing Hodal for breakfast. This is the costliest place for food on the entire route. Breakfast for 4 people cost nearly 500 rupees. It can be avoided. But it also probably provides the cleanest toilets en-route.
3) Keep moving straight till you reach the overhead sign on the NH-2, indicating left turn for Vrindavan.
4) Vrindavan to Mathura road junction is 8 km. You will get many turns between these two. But the one mentioned in the detail is the one with a right turn for Govardhan.
5) Keep moving straight. The flyover on which the cut for Bharatpur exists is almost 5 KM from this junction. The distance mentioned in the indiacar.com road guide is about 4 km which is a little less. En-route you will cross the Jai Gurudev temple, a big white structure, on right hand side of the road.
6) Cross the flyover. Halfway through you will see the road sign for Bharatpur on the right hand side of the flyover. The U-turn is not far from the end of the flyover. Take U-turn here.
7) Bharatpur is 34 km from here. The outskirt of the park is another 2 km. This is a single way state highway. 50% of the road is in pretty good condition. But other 50% is bumpy and bad. Always drive with reasonable speed as real bad sections crops up suddenly. These are bad enough to break your axle. You need to avoid situations when there is a speeding vehicle from opposite on the good section of the road and you have no option but to land your vehicle at the bad spot.
8) I used the Wikimapia map to have an idea of directions within Bharatpur. Once you have reached the railway overbridge at Bharatpur station, keep moving straight.
9) Use this link to get the map I had created for driving direction from the station to the Park.
10) Most hotels are on the road to the park which is the Agra-Jaipur highway. Few around Saras chowk. I stayed at the Hotel Pratap Palace which is good place to stay. I stayed at this hotel in my last visit and the experience was good. I paid 650 this time for double deluxe room. But food here is costly. However we have decided to explore other accommodation around. The Sunbird Inn turns out to be the costliest in that area. They offered room @900. Few other accommodations we checked were cheap but you will not like spend the night there. There are two more costly options - the ITDC run Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, which is located right inside the park and the RTDC run Hotel Saras.
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