Of all the regions of India, Rajasthan with its turbulent history, warring yet cultures rulers and extraordinary cities and fortresses is surely the region that epitomizes the romantic India of a bygone era. Here the Moghul emperors constantly battled for supremacy with the local rulers, who in turn fought each other whenever they were not having to face an outside threat. The riches they accumulate were used to build awesome strongholds in the hills and some of the most fabulous palaces ever constructed. Their lives and times seem like a fairy tale to we inhabitants of much more crowded and less simple era, but they live on the remarkable monuments they built that now emblazon India’s rich architectural heritage. For most birders who have traveled in India or who have dreamed of going there, Bharatpur and Ranthombore sanctuaries are the places await the traveling naturalist. We will start our Rajasthan adventure in Udaipur in the southern part of the sate, a good place for the localized white-napped Tit. From here we will travel deep into the rugged Aravali Hills to Kumbhalgarh, site of a truly amazing Rajput fortress, where we will look for the little-known Green Avadavat as well as Red Spurfowl, Grey Junglefowl and many other birds. Continuing further north, we pause to hunt for Leopard at small village where they regularly seen before we come to the ‘blue city’ of Jodhpur with its colossal Meherangarh Fort. From here we travel far out into the Thar Desert to see the extraordinary spectacle of thousands of fearless Demoiselle Cranes right next to us at the village of Khichan, something few birders have so far witnessed. Moving still further into the Thar, we will look for Indian Bustard and Stoliczka’s Bushchat close to the romantic desert citadel of Jaisalmer, before ending our journey through Rajasthan in suitable style at the Gajner Palace Hotel, a romantic place to stay right next to a lake thronged with water birds. To the north of Rajasthan lies the Punjab, the ‘Land of the Five Rivers’, now a days divided between India and Pakistan. Here we hall see a very different part of India as we explore the wetland reserve of Heike on the River Subtle, a place that is still ‘undiscovered’, but which offers some great birding. As well as a superb array of water birds, including the rare and localized Indian Skimmer, Heike offers rare wintering Yellow-eyed Doves from Central Asia and specialties of the Indus plains such as Rufus-vented Perinea and Send Sparrow.

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