Where to start with Bharatpur. Firstly how we ended up here. After a lot of dithering over whether to head to the Ranthambore national park famed for it's often illusive population of tigers we decided that the expense and crowds along with potentially not seeing any wildlife at all meant it wasn't really a goer. Instead we chose to cut up our journey from Bundi to Agra at a nature reserve famed for its feathered residents the Keoladeo National park and wetlands in the town of Bharatpur. Our experience ended up somewhat mixed.
On arrival in Bharatpur we checked in to the top recommended cheap guesthouse in our Rough Guide. It was the cheapest room we stayed in throughout the whole of India. Just £3 with ensuite... Too good to be true. Well yeah it certainly was. Our room in the Kiran guesthouse was hands down the worst room in India and comes a close second to the hole we slept in in Moni, Indonesia on the 6 months stakes. It felt like we were sleeping in a bathroom, the dirty off white tiles that lined the floor also lined the walls and the murky brown stains over the room resembled what you might expect from a murderers chamber (think that toilet in the first Saw film). We were by this point more than used to sleeping in iffy and often dirty sheets that barely covered dank duvets but the stains on these were something to write home about. Considering it was also pretty chilly in Bharatpur we slept fully clothed. The room was also infested with mosquitoes as the sun set everyday due to the water vat that was placed conveniently above our door. All this one can look at and just look past, 'it's cheap it's just for 2 nights' we kept telling ourselves. The caretaker was actually really friendly and clearly meant well and the brothers who ran the place were also very inviting but it just doesn't make up for the terrible room. On our final night we were joined by several rodent friends who thoroughly enjoyed scurrying about on the slippy white tiled floor. The next morning was Josie's birthday. Thank god it was only a short bus ride before arriving to the Taj Mahal.
Enough about the room.
The national park itself was actually really lovely. A huge (the biggest in Asia) wetlands teaming with countless impressive species of bird. Hundreds of different species of birds come from all over Asia and Europe and head to Keoladeo to find solace in its pristine collection of lakes and waterways every winter.
As a tourist we rented two (awful) bikes and cycled along dirt paths, climbed up little watch towers attempting to spot different cool looking birds.
We are NOT bird watchers, never have been and never will be, Keoladeo didn't change that but a day spent pleasantly walking and cycling through the peaceful park full of wildlife and colour with not a tuk tuk in sight was the perfect antidote to the states manic cities.
We took a guide for the morning who pointed out some birds to us and gave us some facts about the place. It was actually an old shooting ground for the Maharajah of Bharatpur but quickly became inaugurated as a protected area post Indian independence due to its environmental significance.
It almost made it worth staying in such a hell hole.
Getting in and out:
Trains run here from all over Northern India. We came from Kota near Bundi and it took 4 or so hours, nice n easy.
It's only 30 minutes there or thereabouts by public bus (30 rupees) to Fatephur Sikri, from where we then hopped in a returning taxi to Agra for a budget price. But buses continue along the main road of you're not so lucky. Although our ride sought us out, I'm sure if you asked around town with a price in mind you'd have some luck.