Known as the Bird Paradise of Rajasthan and the Eastern Gateway of Rajasthan, Bharatpur is situated 50 km west of Agra. It was the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Bharatpur.
Bharatpur comes within the Golden Triangle comprising Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and can be easily accessed by tourists. It currently shares its borders with the Gurgaon district of Haryana to the north, Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh towards the east and Agra district to its east.
Bharatpur is named after Bharat - the second brother of Lord Ram. Laxman, another brother, was worshipped as the family deity of the erstwhile royal family of Bharatpur.
Founded by Suraj Mal in 1733, Bharatpur was carved out of the region formerly known as Mewat. Bharatpur was the only kingdom ruled by dynasty of non-Rajputs in Rajasthan.
Raja Suraj Mal had used the enormous wealth he acquired during his reign to build numerous forts and palaces across the kingdom. He constructed the Lohagarh fort in the early 18th century along with two towers within the ramparts, the Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj. It is said that since its foundation, the fort has always withstood sieges.
Another famous attraction of Bharatpur is the Deeg Palace. A strong and massive fortress, it was the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and was built by Badan Singh. It is now known for its famous water palaces, gardens and fountains.
More than the historical buildings and its regal past, tourists flock to Bharatpur to visit the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of India’s most important avian sanctuaries. It was initially a hunting ground for the royalty and the visiting British; the park is known for the flocks of Siberian Cranes that migrate during the winter months.
Early in the 18th century, farmers of Bharatpur rose in revolt against the terror of the Mughals. The Jats came under the leadership of Badan Singh along with his uncle Churaman and defeated the Mughals. After the victory, Badan Singh was recognized and conferred the title “Raja” in 1724.
In 1733, Raja Badan Singh's adopted son, Suraj Mal captured the fort of Bharatpur and laid the foundation of Bharatpur city.
Maharaja Suraj Mal displayed immense bravery and made an army of fierce Jat peasants. Suraj Mal also erected many palaces and forts. He was later succeeded by his son Jawahar Singh.
The British made peace with the Jats by signing an agreement with them in 1818. The state acceded unto the dominion of India in 1947. It was merged with three nearby princely states to form the 'Matsya Union', which in turn was merged with other adjoining territories to create the present-day state of Rajasthan.
Where to stay
Bharatpur offers a plethora of options to stay. From budget, to medium-range, resorts to heritage hotels, Bharatpur offers it all. Many of the hotels are located in close proximity to the national park. If you plan to stay inside the national park, then the government-run Bharatpur Forest Lodge is the only option.
For the budget traveler, there are several options ranging from railway retiring rooms to paying guest accommodation. Paying guest accommodations offer both single and double beds; however, some have shared bathrooms.
Where to eat
There are several options to eat in Bharatpur. Some even offer typical Rajasthan fare besides Mughlai and continental cuisine.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Bharatpur is between November and March.