For birders, the Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a must.

This small but beautiful forest is situated in Bharatpur, in eastern Rajasthan. It is a popular winter roost for several species of migratory birds from the northern hemisphere, even as far as Siberia.

The park became famous after Siberian cranes were first spotted here.

Although the Siberian Cranes haven’t been sighted for several years, several unusual species of waterfowl, like the Baikal Teal, also fly in from Siberia. Ducks and geese form a large part of the population and you can also find the Demoiselle Crane and Sarus Crane in large numbers.

You will also spot large numbers of herons, darters, egrets, rollers, ibises, and many other species as far as the eye can see, as they forage for food in the marshes. The main predators here are also avian — harriers, vultures, eagles, falcons, and buzzards feed off smaller rodents and mammals on the forest floor. Rare species like the majestic Eurasian Griffon and the Cinereous Vulture are sometimes spotted here.

Over one third of the park is covered in marsh, making it ideal breeding ground for reptiles. Pythons, vipers, kraits, and cobras are often found lurking in the undergrowth.

Turtles, frogs and lizards also inhabit the area, inhabiting the swampy wetlands. To discover more about this compact, but rather unusual habitat, we recommend reading Gardens of God, by Kailash Sankhala, a veteran nature and wildlife conservationist.

If you’re a birder, or even have an interest in bird-life, then a visit to Keoladeo Ghana is a must. Bharatpur is easily reached from Jaipur, the nearest airport, and is easy to combine with Ranthambore.

The lodges here are full of charm and character, coupled with warm and welcoming hospitality. The best time to visit is between mid-November and end-February so that you can observe the winter migration in full splendour.