Taj Mahal and Indian Skimmer tour

“You knew, Shah Jehan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove, therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart…Let the splendor of diamond, pearl, and ruby vanish like the magic shimmer of the rainbow. Only let this one tear-drop, this Tajmahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.”
Rabindranath Tagore

Best Time: November – April

The Land of the Taj Mahal Agra is also home to the endangered Indian Skimmer. For those visiting India, this is an ideal way to combine some bird watching with visits to some of the most dramatic and beautiful monuments of the country.

Outline Summary:

Day 01: Delhi-Sultanpur National Park- National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 02-03: National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
Day 04: National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary – Agra
Day 05: Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi

Optional Extension:
Day 05- Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur
Day 06 – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur
Day 07- Bharatpur – Delhi

Enroute to the Taj Mahal

A visit to India necessitates a visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, arguably one of the most famous and romantic buildings of the world whose legendary beauty continues to attract more visitors than virtually anywhere in India.

The first morning of your trip will begin with a visit to the Sultanpur National Park is located in the state of Haryana close to Delhi. This small area has been declared a National Park as over 250 species of birds, migratory and resident, have been identified here. From Sultanpur you will head to the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Chambal is one of India’s most pristine rivers. Part of this river was declared a protected area and hosts an amazing riverine faunal assemblage including 2 species of crocodile, 8 species of freshwater turtles, smooth coated otters, the gangetic river dolphin, skimmers, black-bellied terns and over 250 species of birds.

The Indian Skimmer or Indian Scissors-bill (Rhynchops albicollis) is one of three species that belongs to the family of skimmers. The species was formerly widely distributed in the rivers of the Indian Sub-Continent and along the rivers of Myanmar and Mekong. The population is now estimated to be between 6000-10000 individuals and it is considered endangered. Breeding colonies are known from the Chambal river area.

After an enchanting interlude on the Chambal River you will head to Agra and see the Agra Fort. The Fort, more like a walled city, dates back to the 11th Century and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The present day structure was built by the Mughals. From the Agra Fort you will travel to your hotel in Agra and then after lunch go through the city to see the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful buildings ever created. The Taj was created in pristine white marble set with precious stones and offset by buildings of red sandstone. The Mausoleum was built by the Emperor Shah Jehan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal who he married in 1612. Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth in 1629 and the court went into mourning for two years. The Emperor decided to build a monument in her memory and the Taj Mahal was created. The building is over 20 storeys high and took 22 years to complete with a work force of 20,000 craftsmen. The uniqueness of the Taj lies in its remarkable innovations. It is a perfectly symmetrical building and lies at the end of a beautifully laid out quadripartite garden that lends depth and perspective to the viewing of the monument. The long water body in the centre of the garden perfectly reflects the building.

The following day you visit the City of Fatehpur Sikri. This is a world heritage site and was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1569. The city was built to serve as the capital of the Mughal Empire but was abandoned soon after its inception due to the paucity of water. The buildings built primarily in red sandstone with independent pavilions arranged in formal geometry. The imperial palace was over two miles long is largely intact and surrounded by a wall five miles long. Your tour ends at Delhi.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up at your Hotel in Delhi. Spend the morning at the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary with your birding guide. Afternoon drive to the Chambal Sanctuary. Overnight at the Chambal Lodge.

Day 2: Morning do a river safari on the River Chambal. Great place to see Indian Skimmers, Black bellied Terns, Black Ibis, Bonelli’s Eagle, Ghariyal, Mugger. Overnight at the Lodge.

Day 3: Visit the Sarus Crane sanctuary for excellent birding. Overnight at te Chambal Lodge.

Day 4: Spend the morning at the Red Fort in Agra. See the sunset at the Taj Mahal. Overnight at hotel in Agra.

Day 5: Drive back to Delhi via Fatehpur Sikri. Arrive Delhi and check into hotel

Optional Extension:

Day 05: Drive to Bharatpur via Fatehpur Sikri. At Bharatput you visit the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a wetland site of international importance and a designated Ramsar site. This is a manmade and managed wetland area home to 336 species of birds, and every year thousands of migratory waterfowl visit the area for winter breeding. The sheer number of birds has often led to the region being declared one of the richest bird areas of the world. Check into Lodge and after lunch go into the Keoladeo Ghana National Park on foot or cycle rickshaws with a birding guide. Overnight at Lodge

Day 06: Full day birding at Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The birds to expect are Indian Courser, Sarus Crane, Dusky eagle Owl, Large tailed Nightjars, CommonPochard, Great white Pelican, Greylag and Bar headed Goose. Overnight at Lodge

Day 07: Depart for Delhi