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,
Featured image courtesy Saurabh Misra cc/FLickr
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