Turtles in the swamp were one of the highlights of my trip to Bharatpur. Soon after returning from Bharatpur, I wrote an article on Harmony Magazine about life in the park. Here is an excerpt on turtles.
“The large water body makes an ideal habitat for flap-shell turtles that gently swim just below the water surface. I kept seeing a dark and dome-like thing moving slowly in the water for two full days, never getting a chance for a face-to-face encounter with the owners of these shells.
It is only after three days that I found an easy way to get a good look at them, thanks to the generosity of Seetaram Baba. Baba lives at the Hanuman Temple in a corner of the park, located next to a deeper part of the marsh. He has been feeding the turtles for many years now and has become such good friend with them, they respond instantaneously when he calls them. One of the evenings when I was there, Baba took a vessel full of dough and took us to the waters. As we watched standing on the steps leading to the pond, he started calling them “aa.. aa.. aa..”. In just a few seconds, I saw something move slowly in the water. A small snout and two tiny eyes popped up next to the steps. It was soon followed by another one and another one, all of them coming out in a characteristically turtle-like sluggishness. They fed on the wheat balls slowly and cautiously, coming out of the water only for a short while to take a gulp before disappearing again. They looked gentle and harmless, but Baba told me that they can collectively tear apart any animal that makes the mistake of getting into the water.”