Every morning at 6:30 am the gates open to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, and India’s premier destination for spotting over 230 species of birds. The tourists, bird lovers, photographers have normally already queued up at least half an hour in advance, with entry passes in hand. Also waiting at the gates are the 100 odd men who will during the day turn into expert ornithologists and guides helping these visitors see a Greater Egret nest, a painted stork or find the perfect place to capture photo of a camouflaged nightjar.

These men are the cyclyrickshaw drivers of Bharatpur. They will rattle out Hindi, English and Scientific names of birds like a field researcher, fill you with the history of the park like historians who have lived and breathed that past era and effortlessly carry your camera equipment and set it up for you too like a pro. Like a friend, philosopher and guide, these men seamlessly switch over from one role to another while also pulling your weight on the dirt tracks of Bharatpur in their three wheeled rickshaws. Turn a visit to the bird sanctuary to an experience that is seldom found anywhere else, here are some photos of these extraordinary men taken by visitors to the park,

 

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Waiting for a tourist at the gates of the park. Image via Karanguesthouse

 

 

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Let’s start the ride!. Image courtesy frangallo

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A name tag for each Rickshaw and its owner. Image courtesy BetterIndia

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Showing birds, forest and sometimes cattle too! Image courtesy ifonlypolyglotwasajob

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The rickshaw parade. Image courtesy betterIndia

The Guide at Bharatpur

Proud of my job! Image courtesy Mediocre2010, Creative Commons on Flickr

Bird watchers at dawn. Image courtesy natureindiatours

 

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A white breasted waterhen examines a parked rickshaw. Image courtesy Anil P

 

Featured image courtesy Saurabh Misra cc/FLickr

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About Atula Gupta

Atula Gupta is the Founder and Editor of indiasendangered.com. Her work has appeared in a number of international websites, dailies and magazines including The Wire, Deccan Herald, New Indian Express, Down to Earth and Heritage India on issues related to environment and its conservation. She is also the author of Environment Science Essentials, a set of books for school children. She hopes this website provides a platform for people to be aware about species in the verge of extinction and heighten their conservation efforts.

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