Bharatpur saga lies in womb of remote past

NEXT TIME when you discuss Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur in Rajasthan do not forget to share this vital information based on scientific study: About 26,000 years ago there existed a big lake in place of the paradise of bird watchers.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2006 01:09 IST

NEXT TIME when you discuss Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur in Rajasthan do not forget to share this vital information based on scientific study: About 26,000 years ago there existed a big lake in place of the paradise of bird watchers.

Palaeobotanist Dr Chhaya Sharma, Emeritus Scientist of Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, has come across interesting facts that give a clear picture about the past of World Heritage Site.

“In ancient days, the Bharatpur region had witnessed enough rainfall to feed this lake,” claimed the scientist, and added in subsequent years, this lake gradually turned shallow owing to climatic change, less rainfall and fast silting. The study has also revealed that there was corresponding changes in the local vegetation scenario in the region where the wetland was situated. Dr Sharma’s claim is based on the Palynological analysis of the soil samples collected 15 feet deep trench from different levels in chronological order some three years ago.

Palynology is the study of pollen and spores.

Dr Sharma is the first woman scientist to be elevated to the post of scientist Emeritus at Birbal Sahani Institute of Palaeobotany.

Corroborating her claim, she said the studies undertaken from the nearby site Moti Jheel (under cultivation) in Bharatpur, too, was a lake about 9000 years ago according to the radiocarbon dating of soil samples. “This portion, it seems, was connected with the main lake in Keoladeo- Ghana in the remote past,” said Dr Sharma.

She further said the Moti Jheel lake was comparatively much smaller, but was, in all likelihood, subjected to much faster silting on the one hand and reduced water supply on the other. “The findings add special feature to the World Heritage Site,” said Dr Sharma. Further studies undertaken on these lakes are likely to throw more light on the origin, development, past vegetation, climatic fluctuations and advent of desert conditions in Rajasthan. Some interesting facts about the Keoladeo Ghana National Park:

Duck shoots were organised in the area every year by the rulers of Bharatpur, in honour of Viceroy Lord Curzon and his party on 1 Dec 1, 1902.

Over 4200 birds were killed in 1938 by Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy and Governor General of India and his party. After independence, this reserve was notified as a bird sanctuary but the former rulers of Bharatpur continued to enjoy their shooting rights over the area till 1972. The area was notified as a National Park in 1981 but made effective only in Novemeber,1982.

Close to 380 species of birds are found in this 29 sq km stretch, approximately 10 sq km of which comprises of marshes and bogs.

First Published: Feb 11, 2006 01:09 IST