Birdwatching Tour of Rajasthan

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Birdwatching in Western India is a feast for all senses. Rajasthan – the land of Kings and to the most romantic and famous building in the world, the Taj Mahal, the diversified landscapes of the Thar desert, the fertile plains of the Yamuna river, and the wooded Aravali Hills are home to over 600 species of birds. Culturally rich backdrops provide some of the richest birding in the world. Come join in the adventure and join our Bird Tour of western India.

Best time: October to March

The Journey


The first morning of your trip will begin with a visit to the Sultanpur National Park is located in the state of Haryana close to Delhi. This small area was declared a National Park and over 250 species of birds, migratory and resident, have been identified here. In the afternoon you will be taken on a guided tour of the capital of India, Delhi.

Delhi is named after Dilu, a king who built a city at this location in 50BC. A city of 25 million people, India's capital is filled with relics of lost empires. Medieval fortifications, some of the finest examples of Colonial and Mughal architecture, some of the greatest bazaars in the sub-continent all vie with modern architecture in all seven of Delhi's cities. Especially noteworthy is the area called New Delhi planned by Lutyens. Delhi is becoming the centre for Art and Culture in India, and hosts the most renowned Art, Book and Fashion festivals.

You then travel to Jodhpur, the Blue City or Sun City of India. Jodhpur has some of the most beautiful historic buildings including one of the newest palaces in India – the Umaid Bhawan Palace. With a backdrop of the Mehrangarh Fort, and houses all painted in blue, Jodhpur is a photographers delight.

From Jodhpur you travel to Jaisalmer stopping enroute to see Demoiselle Cranes in the thousands at the village of Khichan. Ratanlal Maloo, the Bird Man of Khichan, had fed the Demoiselle cranes for over 40 years. In peak season, 12000 birds have been recorded in Khichan. Ratanlal estimated that you need 100 kgs of grain for a 1000 birds, which amounts to 432000 kgs of grain a year. The cranes are fed in an fenced area called a "Chugga Ghar" or "Feeding Home". Ratanlal and his wife were supported by the village community and prosperous traders from the 'Jain' community to raise funds and grains to feed the Cranes. Ratanlal passed away in 2011 and the community at Khichan continues to feed the cranes that continue to visit Khichan.

From Khichan, you travel to the desert city of Jaisalmer. Also known as the Golden City because of the extensive use of yellow sandstone for the construction of the fort and other buildings. The Jaisalmer fort looms out of the yellow sands of the Thar desert and contains the Palace and several ornately carved Jain temples that have been declared a World Heritage Site. Jaisalmer is the base from which you will visit the Desert National Park.

The Desert National Park lies in the sand dunes of the Thar desert and is one of the largest protected areas in India. The Park hosts an astounding variety of animals and birds including the endangered Great Indian Bustard. A community called the 'Bishnoi' live in this region. These people practice conservation as a religion and revere nature and wildlife as gods based on the 29 principles of their spiritual leader Guru Jambheshwor. Eight of these tenets have ben prescribed to preserve biodiversity and include a ban on killing animals, felling green trees and providing protection to all life forms.

You will then journey onwards to the world renowned Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in the desert state of Rajasthan. The Reserve is famous for its tiger population and the picturesque Fort that serves as a backdrop to the Reserve. About 272 species of birds are found here many of which you will encounter on safaris in the Reserve.

From Ranthambore Tiger Reserve you will travel to the Pink City of Jaipur. The state capital is an enthralling amalgamation of history and culture. The city was planned according to the Indian principles of Vastu and Shilpa Shastra. Monuments like the Amer Fort, the Ciry Palace, the Hawa Mahal and the Jantar Mantar are recognized Heritage monuments. During the rule of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh, the entire city was painted pink to welcome Edward, Prince of Wales. Today much of the ciry remains painted pink giving the city a distinctive appearance.

From Jaipur you travel to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a wetland site of international importance and a designated Ramsar site. This is a manmade and managed wetland area home to 336 species of birds, and every year thousands of migratory waterfowl visit the area for winter breeding. The sheer number of birds has often led to the region being declared one of the richest bird areas of the world.

The journey continues to the city of Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful buildings ever created. The Taj was created in pristine white marble set with precious stones and offset by buildings of red sandstone. The Mausoleum was built by the Emperor Shah Jehan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal who he married in 1612. Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth in 1629 and the court went into mourning for two years. The Emperor decided to build a monument in her memory and the Taj Mahal was created. The building is over 20 storeys high and took 22 years to complete with a work force of 20,000 craftsmen. The uniqueness of the Taj lies in its remarkable innovations. It is a perfectly symmetrical building and lies at the end of a beautifully laid out quadripartite garden that lends depth and perspective to the viewing of the monument. The long water body in the centre of the garden perfectly reflects the building.

From the Taj, you continue south to the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary. The Chambal is one of India's most pristine rivers. Part of this river was declared a protected area and hosts an amazing riverine faunal assemblage including 2 species of crocodile, 8 species of freshwater turtles, smooth coated otters, the Gangetic river dolphin, skimmers, black-bellied terns and over 250 species of birds.

The Indian Skimmer or Indian Scissors-bill (Rhynchops albicollis) is one of three species that belongs to the family of skimmers. The species was formerly widely distributed in the rivers of the Indian Sub-Continent and along the rivers of Myanmar and Mekong. The population is now estimated to be between 6000-10000 individuals and it is considered endangered. Breeding colonies are known from the Chambal river area. After relaxing interludes birdwatching on the river you end your trip and return to Delhi.


Outline Itinerary

Day Journey
Day 01 Delhi.
Day 02 Delhi – Jodhpur
Day 03 Jodhpur.
Day 04 Jodhpur – Khichan – Jaisalmer.
Day 05 Jaisalmer .
Day 06 Desert National Park.
Day 07 Jaisalmer – Jodhpur.
Day 08 Jodhpur – Ranthambore Tiger Reserve .
Day 09 Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.
Day 10 Ranthambore Tiger Reserve – Jaipur.
Day 11 Jaipur .
Day 12 Jaipur – Bharatpur Keoladeo Ghana National Park.
Day 13 Keoladeo Ghana National Park.
Day 14 Bharatpur – Agra – National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary .
Day 15 National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary.
Day 16 National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary – Delhi .

DETAILED ITINERARY :

Overview

Destinations Covered: Delhi / Jodhpur/Jaisalmer/Ranthambore
/Jaipur/Bharatpur/Agra

Tour Duration: Day 16

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