Mélanie Johnsson


Stories from behind the scenes...

Chapter 4: Bharatpur


Dawn really is

the most beautiful time of day.

And it also is the best time
to see all the pretty birds.

I know, I know, Chapter 4 was meant to be about Pushkar and its holy lake. I visited Pushkar immediately after Jodhpur, and stayed in the most wonderful ranch (You know it already, I love horses). It was great unwinding for a few days and not doing much more than walking around in this rather touristy town and horse riding in its surrounding countryside. I would have loved to write about it, but I realise that I didn't take that many pictures whilst I was there. I thought it would be more interesting to jump ahead and talk about my trip to Bharaptur.


I arrived in Bharatpur one evening, after a seven hour bus journey (from Ajmer to Jaipur, Jaipur to Bharatpur) spent without a seat belt and amongst very chatty passengers. The only positive aspect of this exhausting journey was the sunset I enjoyed a few hours before reaching destination. One of those pinkish ones that leave you wanting more. But first things first, why was I going to Bharatpur instead of staying in Jaipur? (I actually regret not spending more time in the Pink City, but I'll have to go back in good company)

There is a simple reason (that I might already have explained). After visiting Jodhpur, I realised indian cities made me slightly uncomfortable to visit on my own and that I craved calm and serene places where I could feel a bit safer. I also really wanted to see more wildlife. So when it came to plan the rest of my trip, I thought I would skip the big cities and focus on what I really liked. I was immediately attracted to the Keoladeo National Park: a beautiful bird reserve to visit, not too busy, not too crazy, kind of lost in the middle of nowhere. Perfect!


Wide awake


at 7 in the morning.

(Actually, I think we startled her/him)


The hotel where I stayed in Bharatpur was lovely. Aptly named the Birder's Inn and really close to the Keoladeo Park's entry, the best thing about it was that the hotel's manager knew the most knowledgeable guides to take me around the Bird Reserve. As soon as I arrived, I asked for the best one (and the one that had the best english too! Because there is no point getting a guide if I can't understand him) to visit the park with me the following day. We arranged everything that evening. The guide would meet me in the lobby at 6:40 a.m and we would cycle to (and through) the park until 1:00 pm. That night, I went to bed early (ok, ok, I admit there is nothing unusual about that) more excited than ever at the idea of waking up at 6 a.m to catch sight of my favourite birds.

All the photos of birds were taken (with an iphone) through
a telescope the guide brought with him.

The early wake up call was worth it. The air was crisp and a few tourists were already gathered at the park's entry, eagerly waiting for the start of their daily explorations. People coming to the Keoladeo Bird Reserve usually stay around for a few days or weeks in order to properly explore the park and see all the pretty creatures. I was only there for a day, but I still saw some of my favourite birds: kingfishers, peafowls, owls, parakeets, hornbills, storks, bee-eaters... The guide was wonderful at spotting them in the park, having been doing this job for the most part of his life. He could recognise any bird by their singing and know exactly where they were.

After exploring the park for a while, we went to visit little sanctuary kept by an old, quite grumpy man. He showed us around the place and gave some chapati flour to the resident turtles of the nearby pond. Cheeky monkeys were everywhere! Trying to get some flour too. They really are the coolest, smartest and loudest creatures.

Weird looking turtles and cheeky monkeys.