Seeking the sarus crane, the world’s tallest bird, in the wetlands of Keoladeo National Park near Delhi. Read more on Nat Geo Traveller India.
Early on a cold morning in late December 2016 we drive about 200 kilometres south of Delhi and queue up outside Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur. Although lesser known among the national parks and reserve forests surrounding the capital city, Keoladeo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the country’s best birding spots. It has around 375 resident and migratory birds; some fly into Keoladeo from as far as Turkmenistan, China and Afghanistan. Formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, it is famous for being the habitat of the sarus crane—the tallest flying bird in the world—that grows up to six feet in height.
The Hindi word for crane is saras, I learned in school. Now, years later, I learn that the saras, or sarus, is just one of 15 types of cranes found globally. Dileep, our guide for the day, tells us that Keoladeo was also home to the Siberian cranes migrating southwards to escape the Russian winter.