the capital of the former Bharatpur State, Bharatpur is
famous for its historic fort and bird sanctuary. It is
easily accessible by road from Agra (51 km. or 32 miles),
Mathura (35 km. or 22 miles) Delhi (185 km. or 115 miles)
and Jaipur (185 km. or 115 miles). It is 1,207 km. (750
miles) from Bombay on the broad gauge line of the Western
Railway and is also connected with Jaipur 188 km. (117
miles) by the metre-gauge line of the same railway.
The town of Bharatpur was founded by Maharaja Suraj Mal in
the thirties of the eighteent century. The principal
attraction here is the fort which is remarkable for the
ingenious design of its fortification which proved
impregnable against repeated attacks. Two huge mud walls,
one round the other, separated by formidable moats, 46 m.
(150 ft.) to 61 m. (200 ft.) broad and 15 m. (50 ft.) deep,
afforded protection to the garrison and the people inside
the solid masonry fort surrounded by another deep ditch
filled with water. Cannon balls fired by the enemy got stuck
into the mud walls without causing damage to the masonry
fort inside. The perimeter of the outermost mud wall, now
completely razed to the ground, was 11 km. (7 miles). The
second mud wall is almost in ruins. The moats were filled
with water from the Kohini Bund nearby.
The fort has eight bastions and two gates, the one in the
north called Ashtadhati and the other to the south, Lohia
Gate. The first gate was brought by Maharaja Jawahar Singh
from Delhi, where it was taken by Ala-ud-Din Khilji from
Chittor. The second was also brought by him in 1764 from the
Red Fort in Delhi.
Jawahar Burj, erected in 1765 in honour of Maharaja Jawahar
Singh’s successful assault on the city of Delhi, is the most
important tower in the fort. The coronation ceremony of the
rulers of Bharatpur used to take place in this Burj, on one
side of which is an iron pillar inscribed with the genealogy
of the Jat rulers. Fateh Burj, the other prominent tower on
the outer ramparts of the fort, commemorates the repulse of
British attacks on Bharatpur in 1805.
Inside the fort are the old palaces of the rulers, the most
prominent of them being Mahal Khas, Kothi Khas and Kishori
Mahal. The museum, located in a portion of the palace,
contains sculptures, inscriptions and other exhibits bearing
on the art and culture of the region. An armoury is also
attached to the museum.
KEOLADEO GHANA BIRD SANCTUARY
km. (3 miles) south-east of Bharatpur is Keoladeo Ghana, the
fascinating bird sanctuary of Rajasthan, also famous for its
duck shootine. It is regarded as the ornithologist’s
paradise. A water-bird sanctuary, Ghana occupies an area of
about 31 sq. km. (12 sq. miles) with 2,832 ha. (7,000 acres)
under water. The sanctuary is divided into several sections
by cross roads and bunds which abound in medium-size shrubs
and tress providing excellent hide-outs for watching and
photographing birds from the closest rangs.
The sanctuary is the breeding place and winter resort of
countless migratory and non-migratory birds. Among the birds
commonly to be seen are: painted storks, open-billed storks,
egrets, ibises, cormorants, darters, paddy birds, grey and
white herons, white breasted water hens, cranes, numerous
fledglings and non-water birds such as bulbuls, barbets and
parakeets. In autumn and early winter, flocks of wild duck,
geese and pelicans immigrating from Central Asia,
Afghanistan and Siberia alight at Ghana for the winter and
leave the place by February-March. Apart from the large
variety of birds, Ghana also shelters the Indian gazelle,
antelope, black buck, cheetal, blue bull, the ferocious wild
boar and the panther.
Ghana has special appeal and charm for the bird-watcher and
Nature-lover during the monsoon months, July to October,
when the entire place becomes a vast heronry.
Thirty-five kilometres (22 miles) north of Bharatpur, and
about the same distance from Mathura, lies Deeg, renowned
for its fort and palaces, sumptuously laid out beautiful
gardens, tanks and fountains. Work on the palaces was
started by Maharaja Badan Singh and continued by Maharaja
Suraj mal and Maharaja Jawahar Singh. Built of cream-coloured
sandstone and marble, the elegant palaces have richly carved
columns, cornices, brackets, eaves and kioska arranged with
perfect regularity. They have about them an air of mystery
and romance. Indeed, for sheer grandeur of conception and
beauty of detail, the palaces at Deeg remain un-surpassed in
Gopal Bhavan, a splendid edifice with spacious halls, is the
largest of all the palaces. Built by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the
real creator of the Jat kingdom in 1750, it has the famous
slabs of black and white marble which were removed by
Emperor Jahangir from Allahabad to Delhi. These, as also the
marble swing, originally belonging to the Nawabs of Oudh,
were brought to Deeg by Maharaja Jawahar Singh. Suraj Bhavan
is built of built of marble and ornamented with inlay work
in semi-precious stones. Nand Bhavan the big hall of
audience, and Machhi Bhavan occupied largely by fountains
are among the other highly decorated pavilions.
Accross the eastern tank of the palace rise the colossal
walls of the Deeg Fort built by Maharaja Badan Singh.
Although the interior consists of only half-ruined
buildings, the massive outer walls with 72 bastions
surrounded by a moat are in a good state of preservation.
The fort played an important role in the turbulent history
of North India in the later half of the eighteenth and the
early years of the nine-teenth century.
On the north-western bastions is a cannon, associated with
Ahmed Shah Abdali.
There are several other places of historical, religious and
archaeological interest around Bharatpur. Some distance from
Kumher, the second capital of the former Bharatpur State,
stands the chhatri of Khandeo Rao Holkar. Goverdhan, a
famous centre of Hindu pilgrimage, lies astride a narrow
range of hills, called the Giriraj, which Lord Krishna is
believed to have lifted on his finger in order to save the
people of Braj from a thunder-storm. The stately cenotaphs
of the ruling house of Bharatpur are located there. The fort
of Bayana, a reputed stronghold of the medieval period, is
about 46 km. (28 miles) to the south-west of Bharatpur.