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Birds of Vrajbhoomi

Birds have always found a mention in Hindu scriptures - be it the sky-spanning Jatayu (vulture) in Ramayana or the Garud (eagle), the mythological vehicle of Vishnu.


Pied Kingfisher

It’s the same for Vrindavan in North India, where Krishna is believed to have lived, where birds figure prominently in the numerous tales of this mischievous Hindu god. And clicking these feathered residents of the region is a unique photography project which was commissioned by the research and publication wing of the Seat of Mota Mandir temple in Bhuleshwar.


Pelicans

Photographer Jatan Atara with support from Dhruv Kapadia photographed the birds of Vrajbhoomi, which resulted in a unique photography survey titled Feathered Friends of Vraj.


Black-necked Stork

“Several pilgrims visit this area every year. The main philosophy behind this project was to make these pilgrims aware of the birdlife of the area and also highlight the importance of conservation,” says Atara. According to scriptures, Vrajbhoomi comprises of 24 groves and 12 forests, with Jatipura at the centre. Apart from Madhuvan and Vrindavan, this region also includes Taalvan, Kumudvan, Kamvan and Bhadravan. Mythologically, the birds residing in this area are considered as hermits engrossed in contemplation of Krishna.


Sarus Crane

“We conducted the pilot project in May 2012 and in four days managed to click as many as 40 species. That’s when we decided to do another trip to capture the winter birds of the region in December.


Rufous Treepie. Pics Courtesy/Jatan Atara

Together, both the trips led us to capturing around 95 species and sub species of birds,” says Atara. He informs us that other than the volunteers of the organisation, local residents were keen on this birding experience and assisted him. The volunteers of Mota Mandir especially guided them around the locality.


Ibis

The Mota Mandir Sansthan aims to inspire people towards conservation of the environment and has uploaded the photographs from this project on their site.

To view the images:
Log on to : www.vallabhacharyakrupa.org/page3.html 
Check the sections: Beautiful Birds from Vraj Bhoomi for the summer expedition and Feathered Friends from Vraj for the winter tour. 

How to get there
By Train
>> August Kranti
   Rajdhani
   Golden Temple Express
   Garib Rath
   Firoz Janta Express
>> Get down at Mathura Junction.
>> Tourists can avail the facility of private taxis from Mathura junction to the holy town of Jatipura which was the base camp for this project. Atara proceeded to various places in Vrajbhoomi with the constant help of Brijwasis (locals).
Places to stay in Jatipura
>> Bal Krishna Bhavan
>> Binani Guest House
>> Gopi Bhavan
>> Bangad Guest House
>> Birla Guest House

Bird spotting at
>> Jatipura and various forests adjoining the town.
>> Water bodies near Kamvan, which is a two-hour-drive from Jatipura.
>> Madhuvan
>> Kokilavan
>> Some forests, water bodies, agricultural fields adjoining Barsana Road and Deeg-Kosi Road.
>> Lots of birds can be spotted during transit.
Tips
It is ideal to visit the place in December as it isn’t very cold then. During the peak winter months, fog makes it very difficult to spot any of the birds. During a summer trip carry enough fluids while driving around, as the heat can be taxing and bird spotting and photography require a lot of time. 100 X 400 Zoom lenses were used for this project; make sure you carry appropriate lenses and binoculars. A rapport with locals will help as they prove to be great guides.
Reference book
Om Field Guide Birds of Northern India, Richard Drimmet and Tim Inskipp.
By Om Books International. 

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