This magnificent bird haven in actual came into being paradoxically as a duck shooting preserve for Maharaja Suraj Mull of Bharatpur. He transformed the shallow depression formed by the confluence of River Gambhir and River Banganga into a reservoir by damming the rainwater in monsoons.
Flooding of water created shallow wetland ecosystem causing it to be a perfect habitat for an astounding variety of birds. The park that was a hunting preserve for the Maharaja and the British continued to be so till 1964, after which the hunting was banned.
A forestation policy of planting acacias was vigorously followed. However the ecosystem at the Park continues to be fragile due to pressures of tourism and need for water from surrounding villages.
However the environmentalists won the day in 1985 when UNESCO listed it as World Heritage site and earlier in 1982 it was declared as National Park. And, today the Park is recognised as the most important breeding and feed grounds for the birds in the world. Some species are still endangered and especially the Siberian crane.
Visitors are advised to maintain low noise level and avoid littering the park. The Park opens from sunrise to sunset around the year. The ticket is Rs 200 per foreign visitor and Rs 25 for Indian visitor. Vehicles are permitted upto Shanti Kutir about 1.7 kilometres inside at Rs 50 per vehicle.
After this you can choose to walk, bicycle, or go by cycle rickshaw, Tonga or boat when the water level is high. The cycle rickshaw wallah’s displaying yellow plate meaning authorised double up as guides also carry binoculars. Hotels do supply packed lunches and you can get a bite at a canteen on the second gate and even at Forest Lodge.