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Wildlife Tourism.net --› Luxury Wildlife Tours --› Birding Tour in India



Birding Tour in India


Duration: 27 Nights / 28 Days
Destinations: New Delhi - Jim Corbett National Park - Dhikala - New Delhi - Jaipur - Ranthambore - Bharatpur - Agra - Chambal - Agra - Jhansi - Orcha - Khajuraho - Bandhavgarh - Kanha - Jabalpur - New Delhi

Day 1: New Delhi
Arrive New Delhi at met by our representative at the airport and transferred to the Hotel. Morning relax. Post Lunch start your city sight seeing withvisit to the Old City of Delhi to see the historic Red Fort and the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque from the outside. See the colourful bazaar of Chandni Chowk and take a cycle rickshaw ride through the back streets of Old Delhi to get a first hand experience of the hustle and bustle of this traditional city. This ride through the small by-lanes will be most fascinating.

Red fort
It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It took 10 years from 1638-48 & about nine crores of rupees ( 90 million ) to complete it. It is made of red stone which perhaps has imported it it's name. The fort house several historical buildings done under the reputed architect Muramat Khan Some chief sights within the fort are, Delhi Gate, Lahori Gate, Meena Bzaar, Justice Court, Hamaams Buraj, Moti Masjid, Hayat Bux Garden, Sawan Bhadon, Zaffer Mahal, Sah Buraj & Museum etc. Every evening light & music ( Son et Limmerie ) shows are exhibited at Red Fort.

Jama Masjid
It's 1/2 km away from Red Fort. This too was built by Shah Jahan the Mughal Emperor. The height of its minarets enables one to have a panoramic view of the vastness of Delhi & its surroundings. Built up with red & black stone this mosques so large tat more than 20,000 persons at a time, can say their prayers in obeisance to almighty. It was built in 1650-56. Overnight in Delhi hotel.

Day 2: Full day sight seeingof New Delhi.
India Gate
Located on the eastern end of Rajpath this memorial was built in memory of martyrs of the 1st World War. Sir Lutyeus was the architect of this 42 meters high monument. it's construction was begun in 1921 & took 10 years to complete it. A gun & Helmet is displayed in the middle of this gate while a perpetually buringflame keeps playing homage to the wars martyrs, and drive past Rashtrapathi Bhawan - the residence of the President of India, which is flanked by the houses of Parliament and the Government Secretariat buildings.

Humayun's Tomb
Privileged to be assigned as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, this tomb was believed to be designed by Haji Begum, Humayun's Persian widow in the mid 16th century, shortly after his death in 1556. The tomb was an important predecessor of Mughal mausoleums. The 'Garden Tomb' as it is popularly called, is set amidst a geometrically planned garden with a number of water channels crisscrossing it. Typically, a Persian garden that would later be seen in the Red Fort of Delhi and Taj Mahal of Agra, its architectural form and especially its main chamber bears familiarity with the tomb of the Mongol Ilkhanid ruler of Persia, Oljeytu, at Sultaniyya, which in turn was influenced by Timurid architecture of the tomb of Timur (Tamerlane) in Samarkand, the lineage of Babur.

The first Indian building to use the Persian double dome, Humayun's tomb is harmonious in its proportions and has some impressions of Indian architecture that are clearly visible in the small kiosks or chhatris on the roof. The building has beautiful inlaid tile work and intricately carved stone screens.

This is surrounded by a garden of Mughal days & several Mughal dignitaries had also been buried here.

Qutab Minar
This tower is 73 meter tall. According to a school of thought it was built by Prithvi Raj Chauhan who had it called ' Prithvi Laat ' , i.e. Prithvi Tower. But in AD 1200 when Qutubuddin Aibak successed in establishing Muslim rule in India the transformed Prithvi Tower into victory tower naming Qutab Minar after his name. He had incorporated in it beautiful Afghan architecture. Its first storeys are built with red-sand stone whie next 2 are built in marble.It's fist section was launched by Qutubuddin Aibak & the remaining section was completed after his death by his son-in-law & successor Sultan Altanush in AD 1236. The radius of this tower at its ground level is 14.32 meteres which tapers to 2.75 metres at its top. Beautiful decorations are inscribed with in this tower which surprise the on lookers.It iss situated 15 kms south of Delhi & is visible from afar.

Lotus Temple Or Bahai Temple
Bahai faith represents the equality of mankind and oneness of its soul. The same feeling has been successfully transcended into the beautifully and scientifically degined Bahai Temple in Delhi, designed by Fariburz Sahba, an Iranian-born Canadian architect, in shape of the lotus flower, symbol of purity throughout India and predominantly celebrates the number nine, which not only represents the highest digit but also unity in the Bahai faith. There are nine pools that have been constructed on the elevated platform signifying the green leaves of the lotus and also serves to cool the stark, elegant interiors of the structure. The delicate and sleek architecture is built in two layers. The first layer consists of nine white marble-covered petals pointing towards heaven, while the second layer of nine petals serves to conceal the portals. When seen from a short distance, it looks like a fabulous example of origami work. The interior, especially, the Hall of Worship, conforms to that of all Bahai temples and is so silent that even a low whisper echoes loudly in the structure. No religious icons are housed here except the copies of the Holy Scriptures and wooden pews. The construction of the temple was completed in 1986.

Raj Ghat
A pilgrimage to all the patriotic Indians, this place was where the Father of The nation, Mahatama Gandhi, was cremated after his assassination in 1948. It consists of a simple square platform with the words 'Hey Ram' written on it. People come here and offer flowers at the place as a tribute to the great apostle of peace buried here. There is a Gandhi Memorial Museum nearby, where once can see and buy books and tapes containing the writings, speeches and memories of Gandhiji. A short distance to the north of Raj Ghat is Shanti Vana where Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, his daugher Indira Gandhi, who herself was a prominent figure in Indian politics and is till now the first and only women Prime Minister of India and her two sons, Rajiv (also the beloved Prime Minister) and Sanjay, were cremated.

Birla Mandir or Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:
The temple has been erected bearing Nagara style of architecture intermingled with modern influences. The whole of the temple is festooned with relief carvings that depict the scenes from Indian mythology. Remarkable in its construction, 101 skilled pundits headed by Acharya Vishvanath Shastri were imported from Benares (Varanasi) to carve the idols of the temple. The temple has a number of artistic sculptures and its highest Shikhara stands 160 ft high above the sanctum sanctorum aspiring to touch the blue skies above. The temple is situated on a high platform and faces eastwards. The main chamber of the temple is dedicated to Lord Narayan and His consort, Goddess Lakshmi. Other smaller shrines in the temple are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman, the Holy Vedas and also, Lord Buddha. The icons of the temple have been brought from Jaipur and are made in marble. The temple premises have been constructed in Kota stone brought here from Makarana, Agra, Kota and Jaisalmer. There are a number of miniature rock temples too that look like toy temples to children and attract them very much. An artificial landscape has been created complete with mountains and gushing waterfalls adding to the scenic beauty of the temple.

Overnight in Delhi hotel

Day 3-5 : After breakfast drive from New Delhi to Jim Corbett National Park. 275kms, 6 hours drive.
Nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas, the Corbett National Park extends over an area of 520.82sq.km. Varied topography and vegetation gives Corbett National Park a rich diversity in habitats and natural beauty. Flat valleys of Corbett National Park are interspersed with hilly ridges and the Corbett National Park's rolling grasslands known as the Chaurs provide visitors with an excellent view of its inhabitants.

The magnificent Ramganga River flows through the entire length of the Corbett National Park and little forest streams tumble through the ravines. While dense stands of sal cloak the higher ridges, mixed deciduous forests are found throughout the Corbett National Park and over 110 varieties of trees, 51 species of shrubs and over 33 kinds of bamboos and grasses are seen here.

We stay for two nights at this delightful location overlooking a fast flowing stream where White-capped River Chats and Plumbeous Redstarts flit amongst the boulders and Brown Dippers plunge in and out of the torrent. Wallcreepers not infrequently explore the rocky shoreline here and the shaggy crested Himalayan Pied Kingfisher is another regular visitor. The surrounding forests are rich in birdlife and unlike the nearby National Park it is possible to explore these on foot greatly increasing the list of potential bird species. Sensational birding is assured with possibilities including; Crested Serpent Eagle, Rufous-thighed Falconet, Plum-headed and Slaty-headed Parakeets, Brown Fish-Owl, Blue-bearded Bee-Eater, Great Indian Hornbill, Bronzed Drongo, Barred Flycatcher-Shrike, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, White-crested Laughing-Thrush, Yellow-bellied Fantail- Flycatcher, Himalayan Rubythroat, Spotted Forktail, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Oriental White-Eye to name just a few. The passage of a mixed species feeding flock will cause a few minutes of chaos as the bushes rain birds and we are just as likely to encounter such a party in the gardens of the hotel as in the forest. One of the great things about Kumaria is that every outing seems to bring a new selection of birds and surprises occur with each excursion. Even meal times are not safe from interruption as the restaurant windows afford a good view of the gardens and many a meal has been temporarily abandoned when a passing raptor or a new flycatcher attracts attention. Although deemed to be safe for walking, one sometimes speculates whether Tigers will respect the ill-defined boundary of the National Park and Leopards certainly wander freely into Kumaria although they are always hard to observe.

During our stay, possibly on the day of arrival from New Delhi, we will spend some time scanning the fast flowing waters of the River Kosi on the outskirts of the busy market town of Ramnagar. This is a regular wintering site for Ibisbill and we will be hoping to locate one of these unusual Himalayan waders although they can never be guaranteed and even when present are remarkably difficult to pick out among the similar coloured stones beside the river.

DAY 6 Corbett - Dhikala
Having skirted Corbett National Park for two days we transfer next to the Dhikala complex in the heart of the National Park for 1 night. This is one of the most tranquil places in Northern India, fifty kilometres from Ramnagar and over two hours drive from the entrance to the Park along tracks that wind through impressive forests and grasslands. At several places the road crosses over dry river courses which become raging torrents during the summer monsoons making road access impossible. During this period the reserve riding elephants are employed to fetch food and essential supplies from Ramnagar. We will use some of these elephants to look for Tigers and as the great beasts plod through the vegetation it is easy to appreciate how even the monsoon floods fail to impede their progress. Corbett boasts a large population of Tigers (the precise number open to debate) and the breeding success has created problems for conservationists as displaced young males are driven from adult territories and forced to seek prey in the adjacent farmland. A lack of natural prey leads to attacks on cattle and villagers with disasterous results for both victims and the Tigers. Incidents involving aggressive Tigers caused the Park authorities to become very nervous about the safety of foreign tourists and as a consequence we are likely to be escorted at all times by an armed guard. Walking around is strictly prohibited except at certain designated areas and it is within these that we can safely concentrate our birdwatching efforts.

Dhikala is situated in an extremely beautiful part of the reserve overlooking the broad Ramganga River. The complex of bungalows and huts is grouped around a compound which also contains the homes of the reserve staff. Unfortunately the tourist bungalows are in poor condition and badly in need of renovation. The idyllic location has to be weighed against the dilapidated condition of the buildings but on balance we think it worth staying for two nights and hope you will agree with this judgement. The facilities are fairly basic but each room has private w.c. and shower, albeit not always functioning very efficiently! The food however is usually very good.

The ornithological advantages of the location will soon be apparent. The bushes and trees around the compound are alive with birds early in morning and a walk along the trails can produce a stream of exciting finds including wintering thrushes, Himalayan Rubythroat, Smoky Warbler and a number of flycatcher species. Inspection of the river might reveal Goosander, Black Stork, and the trio of birds associated with Himalayan streams; Plumbeous Redstart, White-capped River-Chat and Himalayan Pied Kingfisher. Further scans could locate Pallas's Fishing Eagles or Ospreys perched on dead trees in the distance, or bizarre Great Stone Plovers standing morosely on muddy islands. A superb Great Black-headed Gull might glide in to settle on the bank, one of a small wintering flock on a nearby reservoir, and other rarer waders and waterbirds are always possibilities. Forests cloak the surrounding hills and at one or two of the spots where we can get down from the coach to walk around we have the opportunity to see some of the woodland inhabitants such as hornbills, woodpeckers and barbets. There are also large expanses of open grassland in Corbett, particularly around Dhikala, where Black Francolin flies up from underfoot and a variety of buntings may be identified. Hen Harriers patrol these areas, often in company with other raptors, and at night several species of owl take their toll of the small creatures living there. Add to this mixture, a miscellany of babblers, flycatchers, bulbuls, sunbirds and many other wonderful bird species and it is easy to understand why many regard Corbett to be one of the best Indian reserves.

Herds of wild elephant inhabit the reserve and can sometimes be observed from Dhikala browsing at the forest edge but surprisingly for such large animals they are adept at disappearing into cover. Spotted Deer and Sambar are favourite Tiger prey and both occur throughout Corbett with large herds of the former congregating in the grasslands around Dhikala. The rarer Hog Deer can also be seen here but the widespread little Muntjac is more often heard barking in the forests than seen. Troupes of Grey Langur Monkeys and Rhesus Macaques are almost as much a part of the Northern India landscape as the ubiquitous Palm Squirrels but in Corbett they appear much more wary than their urban counterparts, a caution engendered by the desire to avoid ending up as the evening meal of a big cat! Other mammals might include Wild Boar, Yellow-throated Marten, Jackal and perhaps a family party of Otters playing beside one of the streams. Big Mugger Crocodiles are often on view around the shores of the reservoir and the endangered fish-eating Gharial is another Corbett success story, a re-introduction scheme having raised the population to a healthy level. They have no shortage of food as the rivers are teeming with Mahseer, a large salmon-like fish much prized by anglers.

Day 7 Dhikala - New Delhi
After early breakfast drive to New Delhi. Overnight New Delhi. Visit Okhla Bird sanctuary in the evening to see Flamingoes, and lot of water birds.

Day 8 : Drive New Delhi to Jaipur, 275kms, 5 hours drive, en route visit Sultanpur Bird sanctuary (40kms from New Delhi)
On arrival check into the hotel . Overnight in Jaipur.

Envisioned and built by the great and mighty king, Sawai Raja Jai Singh, the name of the city 'Jaipur' has twofold emphasis. 'Jai' means conquest and is also the first name of its maker. Today, the city is a foremost tourist attraction in India because of its superlative forts, grandiose palaces, vivacious temples, multicolored bazaars, pulsating streets and its distinguished pink color to which the city owes its oft-used name 'The Pink City'. This illustrious pink color symbolizes 'welcome' and was embraced during the times of the ruler Ram Singh II when he expected the Prince of Wales in 1876. The color was selected after several experiments to cut down the severe glare from the reflection of the glowing rays of the sun. Today, every home in the old city is obliged by law to maintain this distinctiveness of the city. Throughout the old city you can see the traditional, fabulous, pink-colored houses with latticed windows lending charisma to a scene, which is almost miraculous at sunset

Day 9 : Full day city of Jaipur
Amer Palace
Raja Man Singh erected Amer Palace in 16th century. It is a mesmerizing amalgamation of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Rajputs made use of this Amber Fort from the 16th century up to the foundation of Jaipur in 1727 both for defense reasons as well as the residential reasons. Thus within its powerful walls, one finds charismatic gardens and magnificent palaces made from marble and precious stones, richly festooned with intricate stonemason works and paintings, which corresponded to royal splendor and luxury.

Situated at Jaipur, the mirror image of Amber Fort in the lake below looks almost divine. It is not at all surprising to know that this grandiose and stately fort was once the Capital of Minas. Amer Fort accommodates Jai Mandir, a famous temple which has Sheesh Mahal, a delightful hall of mirrors that are so artistically set that even a tiny ray of light gets replicated in the mirrors and illumines the hall flamboyantly. Sheesh Mahal is famed all over the world as one of the most sought-after tourist attraction. Other places of interest in this fort are Sukh Niwas and Ganesh Pole. A Elephant is booked to take you upto the Fort.

Jantar Mantar
Jantar Mantar of Jaipur, the 'Yantralaya' of Sawai Jai Singh II built on his designs, is the largest of five astronomical observatories founded by him in 1716. The others are at Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. It is a marvel in itself with its huge masonry instruments of extraordinary precision that can still be used quite efficiently.

The Jantar Mantar was visualized as a quest for ascertaining the mysteries of the Cosmos. The Jantar Mantar found its name from the Sanskrit word 'yantra mantra', which meant 'instruments and formulae'. Built not only to verify astronomical observations but also to kindle interest in science of astronomy, which had been entangled in theory, superstition and religious terminology, Jantar Mantar was built on the basis of an observatory at Samarkand. The huge instruments could determine the position of the equator, latitudes and longitudes on the grounds of the rules of the astronomy. The main instruments stationed at Jaipur are the Samrat Yantra, the Jaiprakash Yantra, Ram Yantra and the 'composite instrument' that included a sundial and an enormous hemisphere on the northern wall.

Government Central Museum
Conceived by Colonel Sir Swinton Jacob in 1876, Government Central museum or Albert Hall Museum is the oldest museum of the state. Located in the Ramnivas Gardens, it has Indo-Persian style of architecture. The museum has a wide range of domestic metal objects, miniature paintings from the Bundi, Kishangarh, Kota, Udaipur and Jaipur schools of painting, traditional ceremonial dress worn by royal families and samples of wood block printing.
Shopping Attractions
Jaipur is well known all over the world for its gemstones master cutters, polishers and gemstone dealers and also for its cut and polished emeralds. A world leader in semi-precious stones and Kundan - Meena jewellery, one can can also find good bargains for Lacquered Bangles, Hand Block Printed Textiles, glazed Blue Pottery with its origin in Persia, Tie & dye Fabrics (Bandhani/Bandhej), Stone Craft Marble and sandstone articles and traditional miniature paintings in Jaipur

Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal is a multi-layered palace with a beehive structure built by Sawai Pratap Singh (grand son of Sawai Jai Singh and son of Sawai Madho Singh) in 1799 and was designed by Mr. Lal Chand. The beautiful use of red and pink sand stones outlined with delicate white borders and motifs are simply out of this world. Overlooking one of Jaipur's main streets, it was originally constructed for the women of the court so that they may pass their time by watching hustle-bustle of the bazaar without being watched by people on the streets. The entire building is shaped to resemble a crown adorning Lord Krishna's head. It offers splendid views of the city, including the many old palaces and houses. Surprisingly, there is a total lack of ornamentation in the interiors of the building and chambers are stark and plain with a mass of pillars and passages that lead to the top storey.

City Palace
Chandra Mahal, prevalently known as City Palace, is still the dwelling place of the royal family, at least, in part, while Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum engages the ground floors and outer courtyards. The museum offers rare manuscripts, Mughal and Rajasthani miniature paintings, Mughal carpets, royal costumes and textiles and armory.

Jal Mahal
An 18th century pleasure palace, hovering over Mansagar Lake, Jal Mahal is noted for its convoluted design and magnificent structural design. Situated across the cenotaphs, there is a land bridge that leads one to the Jal Mahal Palace.

Over night in Jaipur

Day 10 Jaipur - Ranthambore, 180kms, 4 hours drive
Morning after breakfast drive to Ranthambore National Park. On arrival check into hotel for two nights.

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in the Indian state of Rajasthan comprises distinct areas with varied conservation history and virtually separated geographically, with mere narrow corridors linking them to the core, Ranthambore National Park. These are mainly, the Ranthambore National Park, Keladevi Sanctuary and Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary.

Ranthambore National Park: The Ranthambore National Park, at the junction of the Aravallis and the Vindhyas, is a unique juxtaposition of natural and historical richness, standing out conspicuously in a vast arid and denuded tract of eastern Rajasthan, barely 14 km. from the town of Sawai Madhopur. It is spread over a highly undulating topography, varying from gentle to steep slopes, from flat-topped hills (Indala, Doodh-Bhat and Chiroli) of the Vindhyas to the conical hillocks and sharp ridges of the Aravallis, from wide and flat valleys (Lahpur, Nalghati, Khachida, Anantpur etc.) to narrow rocky gorges. An important geological feature, the "Great Boundary fault" where the Vindhyas were brought against the ancient Aravallis, passes from here.

Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary: The terrain is flat and rocky and some hills with gentle slopes. The Devpura Irrigation Dam in the Sanctuary is a useful source of water for wildlife and good habitat for aquatic flora and fauna.

Keladevi Sanctuary: The Keladevi Sanctuary is the northern extension of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts. It has hills in its southern, northern and eastern parts. At many places, it has the curious feature of two separate ridges running parallel to each other. The forest between such ridges is dense. The Sanctuary is bounded to the west by the river Banas and to the south by the river Chambal. The Banas finally flows into the Chambal. Some gorges, due to high moisture retention and cooler temperature, are nature's treasure houses. They are locally known as khoh. The slopes of the khohs are covered with dense forest. These khohs are the most suitable habitat for wildlife. The main khohs in Keladevi are Nibhera, Kudka, Chiarmul, Ghanteshwar, Jail and Chidi. The forest cover is fairly sparse and spread out in the other parts.

Conservation History
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve was among the first nine Tiger Reserves declared in 1973 at the launch of Project Tiger in India. It comprised the former Sawai Madhopur Wildlife Sanctuary of 392.5 sq. km. Reserved Forest (constituted in 1955).

Ranthambore National Park with an area of 274.5 sq. km. was constituted from within the Tiger Reserve in 1980. In the then Tiger Reserve, the National Park area was being managed as the core and the rest as buffer until in 1992, Keladevi Sanctuary having an area of 674 sq. km. of Protected Forest (constituted in 1983), Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary with an area of 127 sq. km. (constituted in 1984), Kualji Close Area of 7.58 sq. km. and some other forest areas were added to the Reserve.

Archaeological Richness: Ranthambore fort and temples of medieval period.

Forest Types: Northern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests -5B

Main Flora: Dhok Anogeissus pendula mixed with khair Acacia catechu, raunj, goya, chhela, pipal Ficus religiousa, vad, amaltas Cassia fistula, gurjan, siris saintha, gular, tendu.

Main Fauna: Mammals: Tiger, leopard, caracal, ratel, jungle cat, chital, sambar, nilgai, chinkara, sloth bear, wild boar, jackal, hyaena, common langur, common fox.

Birds: 250 species of birds, some commonly seen are; Bonnelli's Eagle, Sandgrouse, Pheasant tailed Jacana, Quail, Paradise Fly catcher etc.

Day 13 Ranthambore - Bharatpur
After breakfast drive to Bharatpur Bird sanctuary Known as keoladeo National Park

On arrival check into hotel for three night .

Bharatpur is a paradise for the avian world, and the pilgrimage for the bird lovers, it was known as the best duck shooting reserve in the British empire. But was declared a reserve for birds in 1956 and later upgraded to National Park. UNESCO has listed it as a world heritage site. The geographical location is ideal as it is on the main North-South avian route of India. Although small in size, 29 sq km. Only, it boasts to house more than 375 species of beautiful birds, and more than 132 of them breed inside the Keoladeo Ghana National Park and nearly every year new ones are added to the list.

The sanctuary not only attracts birds from India but also from places like Europe, Siberia, China and Tibet Before monsoons resident birds activity starts on the babool and kadam trees of the park. Water coming through the Ajan Bandh starts filling the various ponds and lakes of the Park.

When assured of enough food, hundreds of large, medium and little cormorant, darter, purple and grey heron, various species of egret, painted, open-billed, white necked and black necket stork, white ibis, spoonbill, night heron and other birds get busy in courting and mating. The trees are overflooded with nest, one can observe a tree housing nests upto fifties and sixties in number belongign to different species of birds looking after theri loving young onces. The nests on the trees look like pearl necklaces. Gracious Saras cranes, the tallest flight birds nest in exposed and open area, both partners share the duty of hatching, while changing incubating duties, they come together, raise their neck and give out shrill trumpetic calls in unison and at the same time fan their feathers.

The newly born chicks are only 10cm. in size but grows upto one metre in height within a year. As the monsoons arrive birds from every part of the country start pouring into the park. Migratory water-fowls, including the pride of Keoladeo Siberian Cranes form the indispensable part of Park. The water-fowls visit the park in millions during the month of October. Rosy starling marks the beginning of the arrival of migratory birds. The most noticeable water-fowl coming to the park are barheaded and greyleg geese.

The ducks spotted here are pintail, common teal, ruddy shelduck, mallard, widgeon, shoveler, commong shelduck, red crested pochard, gadwall etc. predatory birds like imperial eagle, steppe and tawny eagee, spotted eagle, marsh harrier and laggar falcon are attracted towards the park completing the avian food chain of the ecosystem. Some of them like short toed eagle, lesser spotted eagle and shikra are the residents of Park.

About 11 sq km Area of the park is covered with water the remaining portion is rich with Kingfisher, Red Vented and white cheeked Bulbuls, Babblers, Quails, Partridges,Sunbirds, Sparrows, Parakeets and orioles which live in bushes and burrows. The year round activity of the winged beauties has made the park a pilgrimage for bird lovers and an ornithologists delight. The animal populace also show their presence although they are thoroughly dominated by feathers, wings and beaks. The animals include the Black Buck, Sambhar - the largest Indian Antelope, Spotted deer, and Nilgais.

Pythons can also be observed at some places bask in the sun. Vehicles are only permitted upto Shanti Kutir inside the park. The Electra Van of forest department can be engaged in the sanctuary, although the best way to explore the park is on foot or bicycles which are available on hire. Cycle rickshaws can also be hired.

Day 16 Agra
Morning : Visit the Bharatpur Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary by cycle rickshaws (the rickshaw drivers are all very capable naturalists).

After breakfast drive to Agra enroute visiting Fatehpur Sikri (12 kms)

Fatehpur Sikri - This exquisite city built by Akbar the Great in 1569, in red sandstone, with its forts, palaces and mosques was abandoned 14 years after its creation due to political reasons. The Diwan-i-am - a vast courtyard in which the emperor gave daily public audience; Diwan-i-khas - a large quadrangle which contained all the major functions of the Palace, Pachisi court, the Emperors private living quarter, Jodha Bhai - s Palace, Mariam - s Palace, Birbal - s Palace, Hawa Mahal and Panch Mahal are some of the important buildings of this residential complex. The Friday Mosque and the exquisite tomb of Sheik Salim Chisti are in the religious grounds set aside in a separate enclosure adjacent to the secular buildings.

Continue drive to Agra after visiting Fatehpur Sikri (49 kms). Check into Hotel.

Agra had been the chosen city of Mughals for years as it was close to Delhi. However, the history of Agra is much more older than the times of Mughals. The great Hindu epic 'Mahabharat' refers to 'Agraban' as an integral part of the Brij Bhumi or the land of Lord Krishna. It is claimed that this was the region of Agra, covered by forests then. However, the city is said to be founded in 1475 during the reign of Raja Badal Singh. Mughal monarchs transformed the land into one of the great centres of art, culture, learning and commerce. Massive monuments, majestic buildings and still flourishing arts and crafts including leatherwork and pietra dura marble-inlay work along with delicious Mughal cuisine have now become an inseparable part or more, the identity of the city

Taj Mahal
The source of the name 'Taj Mahal' is not very clear but scholars believe that it originated from the abbreviation of the empress' name, Mumtaz Mahal and translated to 'Crown Palace'. As the small details integrate together, one is awed by the costliness and large quantities and finery of the materials used, which ranges from marble to precious gemstones. The first illustration that might come to one's mind at a remark about Taj Mahal is that of a central domed building but the true appreciation comes only when one sees it as the manifestation of one man's unfathomable and unshakable desire for the woman he loved - the woman who proved her loyalty and everlasting friendship to him till her last breath, a woman of great physical and inner beauty and a woman of substance and strength.

It took twenty-two years, thirty-two million rupees and hard toil of more than twenty thousand workers to construct Taj Mahal. Completed in 1648, the documents regarding construction of Taj cite the name of Ustad Isa, a very famous architect, well versed in the Islamic architecture, as its chief architect. The documents also list the names of persons employed for this grand work and and the inventory of the construction materials and from where they were brought. From this source, we have learnt that expert craftsmen from Delhi, Kannauj, Lahore, and Multan contributed to the task along with the specialized tasks being handled by the renowned Muslim craftsmen that came here from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara.

Itmad-ud-daulah
Sometimes known as 'Baby Taj', this mausoleum is considered as the imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as elaborate carvings and inlay work are concerned. Itmad-ud daulah, stands across the River Yamuna from the Taj Mahal. Belonging to the age of Jahangir, it contains cenotaphs of Mirza Ghiyas and Asmat Begum, parents of the powerful Mughal Empress Nurjahan, queen of Jahangir. Jahangir made him his prime minister with the title Itmad-ud-daulah (Pillar of the State). The tomb was built in the famed Char Bagh style that Itmad-ud-Daulah had himself laid out six years before his death 1622. The monument is beautifully conceived in the white marble with mosaic and lattice.

The tomb is not a very large structure as Taj Mahal with a height of only 21 m and a dome-roofed octagonal minaret of 12 m each at each corner. It is the inlay work or pietra dura on the walls of mausoleum that makes it extremely attractive. Marble screens of geometric latticework permit soft lighting of the inner chamber. On the engraved walls of the chamber is the recurring theme of a wine flask with snakes as handles.

Agra Fort
On the shores of River Yamuna, to the northwest of the Taj Mahal, Emperor Akbar started a majestic fort, which gained Jehangir and Shah Jahan as its future benefactors who added rose-red sandstone and marble buildings to it respectively. Within 2.5- km-long and 20 feet high fortified walls, the premises of the fort houses many visionary palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques.

The massive gateway of Amar Singh gate towards the south is the entry point of the fort. The myriad buildings and structures inside the fort give an impression of a city within the city. The marble pearl mosque inside the fort is one of the most beautiful mosques in India, while the two gardens within the pavilions are small but well kept.

Sikandra
10 km from the city centre of Agra, the construction of the mausoleum of Akbar was started by Akbar himself. It is a perfect amalgamation of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain architectural styles. His son Jehangir completed it and also did many modifications in the original plan of the building. Named after Sikander Lodhi, the tomb has three-storey-minarets on its four corners. These minarets are built in red sandstone with stunning inlay work of marble.

There are a number of 'langurs' wandering about in the place as it is surrounded by a beautiful garden. In its premises lies the Baradi palace in the gardens built by Sikander Lodhi. A broad paved causeway leading to the tomb has five storeys and is in the shape of a truncated pyramid. The main tomb has a unique square design which is unparalleled by all other Mughal buildings

Overnight in Agra

Day 17 Agra - Chambal -Agra
Early morning drive to Chambal about 80 km. National Chambal Sanctuary on the River Chambal is a refuge for the rare and endangered Gharial ( Gavialis gangeticus) and White Water River Dolphin ( Platanista gangetica). The 400 km stretch of crystal clear water also supports Marsh Crocodiles, Smooth Coated Otters, 6 species of Terrapins/Turtles plus 250 species of birds. The Chambal river originates in Kota, Rajasthan and merges with the Yamuna at Bhareh. The river passes through sandy ravines which are famous for its dreaded dacoits. The river can be approached for birding near the town of Bah, Uttar Pradesh where Chambal Safari Lodge provides lunch and has boating arrangements

A good population of Indian Skimmers is the strongest birding attraction here. This endangered species is easily seen near Bah and is one of the few remaining places where you can get close views of this beautiful bird. Black-bellied Terns, Red-crested and Ferruginous Pochards, Bar-headed Goose, Sarus Crane, Great Thick-knee, Indian Courser, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Darters, and the star attraction of Chambal Safari Lodge, the resident Brown Hawk Owl, all add up to an impressive list of birds.

Day 18 Jhansi - Orcha
Transfer to railway station to board a train for Jhansi. On arrival, assistance and later drive to Orchaa which boasts of its palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th century. Jahangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatris has a spectacular view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs. Orchha rises out of the hills and the greens surrounding it. The historical monuments of Orchha still retain their pristine charm and narrate stories of war and peace, of love and destruction.

The word Orchha means 'hidden'. Situated on banks of the river Betwa, it used to be the capital of the region (Bundelkhand) but now is a small village. The palaces are of impressive size and there are pleasant views of the countryside from their upper levels. Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain Rudra Pratap who chose this stretch of land along the Betwa river as an ideal site for his capital. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatries. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular. Orchha is abandoned now but not forgotten. Complementing the noble proportions of their exteriors and interiors which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting.

Karera Bird Sanctuary

Temples of Orchha : Orchha also has a series of magnificent temples, dating back to the 17th century. They are still in use today and visited regularly by thousands of devotees. The soaring spires of Ram Raja Temple and the well-preserved murals of the Lakshmi Naraya Temple are especially worth a visit. 14 beautiful Chhattris (cenotaphs) or memorials are lined up on the Kanchana Glut of the river Betwa.

Phool Bagh : The walled Phool Bagh or Flower Gardens is a cool summer retreat. A sight you must not miss

Day 19 Orcha - Khajuraho
Early morning visit Karera Bird Sanctuary. After breakfast drive to Khajuraho covering a distance of 178 kms ( 04 hrs ). Check in at hotel. Discovered by chance, India's second biggest single tourist attraction, Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval temples that are adorned with numerous sculptures of extraordinary grace and delicacy celebrating the stylized and refined courtly accomplishments of beauty, love and creative arts. Once the religious capital of the Chandela Rajputs, the temples of the city date from 950-1050 AD. A wall with eight gates encloses the entire area and two golden palm trees flank each of them. Originally, there were over 80 temples, of which only 22 now can be said remarkably preserved. The set of temples at Khajuraho celebrating Hindu religious thought in its mystifying variety of scope and inclusion stands distinguished from rest of the Hindu temples. The temples highlight the existential ethos in religion that venerates 'Yoga' and 'Bhoga'. 'Yoga' is union of the self with the Almighty, while 'Bhoga' is the path to God through physical pleasure. The temples at Khajuraho, dedicated to physical love and pleasure are a testimony to this philosophy. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1986, Khajuraho is a prominent, must-see destination and its temples are India's unique gift to the world as they capture life in every form and mood in stone.

Temples of Khajuraho
Conforming to the central Indian style of temple architecture, the temples of Khajuraho are adorned with explicit erotic sculptures with utmost architectural harmony and beauty. Built within a 200-year span, the temples plan, from the simplest to the most inspiring, follow the same pattern and all of them are ornately carved. The temples of Khajuraho are divided into three groups - the Western group, the Eastern group, and the Southern group. The largest and most easily accessible is the Western group.

1. The Eastern Group, which encompasses five detached sub-groups in and around the present village of Khajuraho. It includes three Brahmanical temples known as Brahma, Vamana and Javari and three Jain temples, the Ghantai, Adinath and Parsvanath.

2. The Southern Group, which is the most distant and has two main monuments near and across the Khudarnala, namely, the Duladeo and the Chaturbhuja temples.

3. The Western Group, which is the largest, compact and centrally located group in Khajuraho, includes some of the most prominent monuments, built by the Chandela rulers. The Lakshmana Temple, the Matangesvara Temple and the Varaha Temple form one complex and the Visvanatha and Nandi temples are not far from this complex. The Chitragupta, Jagadambi and the Kandariya Mahadeva temples are about a furlong to their west. The western group of monuments is best maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and is set amidst green lawns, colorful shrubs and flowerbeds.

In the evening go for the Son et Lumiere show at the temples. Simply mesmerizing a must for the person seeking peace in body mind and soul. Overnight hotel in Khajuraho.

Day 20 to 23 In Bandhavgarh
Morning : visit the Eastern and Southern group of temples. The Parsvanath temple of the Eastern group is the group - s largest Jain temple. The themes depict, in charming detail, everyday activity. Also visit the Duladeo temple dedicated to Shiva and the Chaturbhuj temple of the Southern group.

Afternoon We drive from the historic monuments of Khajurho to the wilderness of The Bandhavgarh national park (210 kms)

Bandhavgarh is a new National Park with a very long history. Set among the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 168sq miles (437sq kms) it contains a wide variety of habitats and a high density of game, including a large number of Tigers. This is also the White tiger country. These have been found in the old state of Rewa for many years. The last known was captured by Maharaja Martand Singh in 1951. This white Tiger, Mohun is now stuffed and on display in the Palace of Maharaja of Rewa.

Prior to becoming a National Park, the forests around Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargarh, or game preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa. The Maharaja and his guests carried out hunting - otherwise the wildlife was well protected. It was considered a good omen for Maharaja of Rewa to shoot 109 tigers. His Highness Maharaja Venkat Raman Singh shot 111 Tigers by 1914.

HISTORY
Bandhavgarh has been a center of human activity and settlement for over 2000 years, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the Narad-Panch Ratra and the Shiva Purana. Legend has it that Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, stopped at Bandhavgarh on his way back to his homeland after defeating the demon King Ravana of Lanka. Two monkey architects, who had engineered a bridge between the isles of Lanka and the mainland, are said to have built Bandhavgarh's fort. Later Rama handed it over to his brother Lakshmana who became known as Bandhavdhish "The Lord of the Fort". Lakshmana is the particular God of the fort and is regularly worshipped in a temple there. The oldest sign of habitation in the park are caves dug into the sandstone to the north of the fort. Several contain Brahmi inscriptions dating from the 1st century B.C. Various dynasties have ruled the fort, for example, the Maghas from the 1st century A.D., the Vakatakas from the 3rd century A.D., From that time onwards Bandhavgarh was ruled by a succession of dynasties including the Chandela Kings of Bundelkhand who built the famous temples at Khajuraho. The Baghel Kings, the direct ancestors of the present Royal family of Rewa, established their dynasty at Bandhavgarh in the 12th century. It remained their capital till 1617 when the center of court life moved to Rewa, 75 miles (120Kms) to the north. Without royal patronage Bandhavgarh became more and more deserted until forest overran the area band it became the royal hunting reserve. This helped to preserve the forest and its wildlife, although the Maharajas made full use of their rights. Each set out to kill the auspicious number of 109 Tigers.

At independence Bandhavgarh remained the private property of the Maharaja until he gave it to the state for the formation of the National Park in 1968. After the park was created poaching was brought under control and the number of animals rose dramatically. Small dams and water holes were built to solve the problem of water shortage. Grazing by local cattle was stopped and the village within the park boundaries was relocated. The Tigers in particular prospered and the 1986 extension provided much needed forest to accommodate them.

THE FORT
The fort still belongs to the Maharaja of Rewa and permission is required to visit it. However permission is available locally and no trip to Bandhavgarh is complete without making an effort to climb up the fort.

There are two ways up on the plateau, a jeep track and a footpath-both steep. It is far easier to see the fort by the jeep but much more rewarding to make the journey on foot. There is a convenient place to park vehicles on the southern side of the fort in the lush jungle which surrounds its base. This point is known as Shesh Saaiya, named after a unique 35 foot (11 meters) long statue of reclining Vishnu carved around the 10th century, from whose feet the Charanganga is said to flow. A rectangular pool of spring water lies just beneath the statue and the path to the main gate of the fort. On the other side of this imposing gateway lie 560 acres (227 hectares) of grassland, over which are scattered turtle-filled tanks and the many remains of the human inhabitants of the fort- from ancient statues to the barracks occupied by Rewa's troops upto independence. At a brisk pace the walk from the Shesh Saaiya to the southern side of the fort need only take an hour, but if you stop to see the statues and temples on the way it can easily take much longer. As you follow the path southwards, the most remarkable sights are the 10th century rock images of the incarnations of Vishnu. A statue of Narsimhan ( half man half lion) towers almost 22 feet above the grass. There is a carving of Barah Bhagwan (the boar incarnation), and a small temple enshrining a large image of Vishnu in his fish avtaar. The tortoise incarnation stands unenclosed and flanked by later carvings of Ganesh, the elephant God, and other deities. The charm of this walk lies in discovering these monuments in the jungle, unspoilt and unexploited. Some of the statues lie off the main path and so it is best to take a guide. Apart from the avatars, well worth seeing are three small temples of around the 12th century. These temples are deserted but the fort is still used as a place of worship. Kabir Das, the celebrated 16th century saint, once lived and preached here.

The natural ramparts of the fort give breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside. Vultures wheel around the precipice, which also attracts blue rock thrushes and crag martins. The fort has a small population of Blackbuck, which have been reintroduced and to some extent protected from Tigers in the park below by repairs to the masonry walls at the edges of the fort.

Thus Bandhavgarh offers excellent game and bird viewing and a historical interest which most other parks lack.

GEOGRAPHY FLORA & FAUNA
There are 32 hills in this part of the park, which has a large natural fort at its center. The fort's cliffs are 2625 feet (800 meters) high, 1000 feet (300 meters) above the surrounding countryside. Over half the area is covered by Sal forest although on the upper slope it is replaced by mixed forest of sal, saj, dhobin, and saja. Winter temperatures (Nov-mid-February) vary from almost freezing at night to around 68 degree Fahrenheit in the daytime. Summer nights are also cooler than the daytime temperature, which rises to 104 degree Fahrenheit. This park is closed during the breeding season, which coincides with the monsoon (July-October). Rainfall in the park averages 50 inches (120cm) per year.

WITHIN THE PARK
Bandhavgarh is justifiably famous for its Tigers, but it has a wide range of other game. The undergrowth is not as dense as in some northern terai forests, but the best time to see the park inhabitants is still the summer months when water becomes more scarce and the undergrowth dies back.

The most effective way to search for Tigers is on elephant back. It's advisable to book your elephant in advance and to wear plenty of warm clothings if going for an early morning ride in winter. The mahouts are kept well informed of the whereabouts of the nearest Tigers. However there are many tigers in the park and the elephants are able to take you up steep, rocky hillsides and down marshy riverbeds, which are impassable to vehicles.

There are several good weather roads in the park. A forest guide must accompany all visitors into the park. Entry in to the park is allowed only during daylight hours. For both elephants and jeep rides the hours immediately after dawn and before sunset are best.

Chinkara, still rather shy, can be sighted on the grassland areas of the park,particularly on the formerly cultivated land in the southern extension area, on the edges of the main viewing area. Also to be seen in the grasslands are nilgai, chausingha, and sounders of wild boar, as well as the occasional jackal or fox. Muntjac and sambhar prefer denser vegetation. The main prey animal, however for the Tigers and the park's rarely sighted leopards are the chital, which now number a few thousand.

There are two types of monkeys common in the park, the rhesus macaque and the black-faced langur. Drives can also reveal jungle cats, hyenas, porcupines, ratels, and a variety of other mammals. Bandhavgarh attracts many migratory birds in the winter months, including the birds of prey like the steppe eagle and a variety of wildfowl.

If the early morning Safari is a thriller then the late afternoon rendezvous to get another glimpse of the Tiger, and watch the shadows grow taller as dusk approaches and the cacophony of birds grows louder in the trees, is not to be missed experience.

The nights in Bandhavgarh are an enigma- the twigs of the bonfire crackling in the resort lawn, combined with the calling of the jackal, the silhouettes of the trees against a starlit sky and perhaps, a distant rumbling roar deep in the heart of the forest.

Day 24to 26 Bandhavgarh National Park - Kanha National Park
Early morning drive by car to Kanha National Park (325 kilometres, approximately 6 hours driving time). On arrival check in to Lodge for three nights. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner at the Lodge. Game drives are organized by The Park both in the early mornings and late afternoons by open jeeps and will be accompanied by a trained naturalist. Once the tiger is spotted anywhere in the jungle, through radio contact with the drivers, visitors will be driven to the location and then taken by elephant back to the actual site to see the tiger. This is an excellent arrangement and is very exciting. The park is closed between July 01 and October 31 owing to the monsoons. Morning and afternoon proceed on a game drive to the sanctuary. Overnight in Kanha.

Kanha is one of India - s largest national park and Asia's finest park. India - s one of the most successful conservation efforts of saving the Barasingha (Swamp Deer) was done here.

Kipling Country
In Madhya Pradesh, one can see the forests immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his Jungle Book - the home of Balu, Bagheera and Mowgli. Two National Parks here, preserve pockets of what were once splendid forests that extended across Central India.

Kanha National Park
Kanha is one of India - s largest national park and Asia's finest park. India - s one of the most successful conservation efforts of saving the Barasingha (Swamp Deer) was done here.

THE SUN IS just up, and Kanha Meadow shimmers. It is November. Only a few days ago, the park has reopened to the public after four months of rest. The monsoon has rejuvenated all nature. At the start of a new season, Kanha is once again a meeting place, an intersection of wildlife and humankind. The rains have renewed Kanha, and Kanha will now nourish and renew her guests. A gentle, silvery mist still wraps the great vista of the Meadow in its folds. A small party of chital saunters daintily across the road and ambles toward Partak Nallah. Last to cross is a majestic stag. Emerging from the long grass, he stands stock still for a moment, carving a silhouette against grasslands and trees, low hills and horizon and ghostlike sun. He offers an invitation.

Geography & Climate
Kanha National Park (which is now officially known as Kanha Tiger Reserve) is located in the Maikal range, the eastern sector of the Satpura Hills of the Central Indian Highlands. The park lies 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Jabalpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Kanha is 270 kIn (170 miles) northeast of the city of Nagpur (Maharashtra), which currently furnishes the nearest air link to the park (direct flights from Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad, with connections to other cities). The exact geographical coordinates of Kanha are as follows. Latitude: 22 - 7' to 22 - 27'N; longitude: 80 - 26' to 81 - 3'E.

KANHA: PORTRAIT OF AN INDIAN NATIONAL PARK
The name Kanha itself may be derived from kanhar, the local term for the clayey soil in the valley bottoms, or from Kanva, a holy man who once lived there in a forest village. Two river valleys are prominent features of the park's topography: the Banjar in the west and the Halon in the east. Both these rivers are tributaries of the Narmada, which flows through the district headquarters town of Mandla, 64 km (40 miles) to the northwest of the park's western entrance. Kanha's valleys are enclosed by hills topped with plateaux, locally called dadar.

Four principal vegetation types have been identified in Kanha: moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous forest, valley meadow, and plateau meadow. The main species in moist deciduous areas (27% of the park area) is the sal tree (Shorea robusta). Park headquarters, located at Kanha Village in the park's western block, lies at about 600 m (1,900 ft.) above sea level. The plateau at Bamhni Dadar rises to 870 m, or about 2,900 ft. The park is shaped roughly like a figure "8" on its side (see map facing page 16), with a length from west to east of approximately 80 km and a width ranging from 8 to 35 km.

The park consists of a core area of 940 km2, which is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,005 km2, thus comprising a total area of 1,945 km2. The core area of the park and most of the buffer zone are located in two districts: Mandla to the west and Balaghat to the east. In addition, a small section of the buffer zone in the southeastern sector is part of Rajnandgaon District. There are nearly 150 villages in the buffer zone and over 260 villages within a radius of 10 km.

For management purposes, the park is divided into 5 ranges: Kisli, Kanha, and Mukki in the western block, and Bhaisanghat and Supkhar in the eastern sector. These latter two ranges are closed off entirely to the public. Within Kisli, Kanha, and Mukki ranges, certain roads and areas are also closed to tourists. As of this writing (mid-1998), the percentage of the park's core area open to visitors (227 km2) is about 25%. The park is served by an extensive network (a little over 700 km) of generally well-maintained roads.

Day 27 Kanha - Jabalpur - New Delhi
Morning Jeep Safari in the park. Afternoon drive to Jabalpur to board a overnight train to Delhi.

Day 28 Arrive New Delhi
Met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel. After Dinner, transfer to the international airport to board the flight back home

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