Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is also known as the Keoladeo Ghana Sanctuary. Once the shooting preserve of royalty, it is perhaps the most spectacular water-bird sanctuary in India. It is one of the major wintering areas for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia. Some 364 species of birds, including the rare Siberian Crane, have been recorded in the park.
The name Keoladeo is derived from the name of an ancient Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva in the sanctuary's central zone, while the Hindi term "Ghana" implies dense, thick areas of forest cover. Covering an area of just 12 square miles, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is an interlocking ecosystem of woodlands, swamps, wet prairies and dry savannah. The park was painstakingly created in the 19th century out of the arid surrounding scrubland by diverting the waters of a nearby canal and creating a series of dykes and dams. The new ecosystem that emerged became an ideal habitat for birds of all kinds. The birds here are often enormous in size: the tallest bird in North America, for instance, the great blue heron, approximately 4.5 feet tall, would be completely dwarfed by birds here such as the greater adjutant stork and the black-necked stork, which are up to 6 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 8 feet. Keoladeo is also Asia’s largest breeding ground of the painted stork. It has become a symbol of Keoladeo as it visits the park during each monsoon season and nests in colonies of thousands on the tree tops.