If you are a wild life lover and wish to capture some picturesque locations of the natural habitat of the tiger, the most elegant of all animals, you have to be at Ranthambore in Rajasthan. Rajasthan, the desert of India, is not only rich in culture, heritage but also in wild life.
Ranthambore is in the south eastern Rajasthan, at the juncture of Aravali hills and Vindhyan plateau, 130 kilometers from Jaipur. It has over the past few years become a major tourist attraction because of its thick forests which nestles within itself the fiercest yet the most beautiful Royal Bengal tigers. Besides, the thick vegetation of deciduous trees it is home to most diverse wild life collection. The Ranthambore National park along with its adjoining sanctuaries of Kaila Devi and Mansingh Sanctuary spreads over an area of 1334 sq km.
At the Ranthambore National park, 30 species of mammals and more than 320 species of birds have been designated as resident species. The herbivore species includes spotted Deer or Chital, Nilgai, Chinkara or Blackbuck. Other mammals that hold your notice are mongoose, porcupines and hare. Carnivore species in Ranthambore National Park comprise of jackals, Leopard and the Royal Bengal Tigers. Reptiles can also be seen; Monitor lizards and highly poisonous snake including cobras and kraits are found abundantly. Crocodiles are seen in the swamps, lazily lying camouflaged and preying on the deer at the slightest opportunity when they come to drink water.
When to visit the National Park
The best time to visit the national park is from October to end of June when it is open to visitors. The Safari timings have been worked out to adjust the duration of the day length as per the season. While from October to end of January you can plan your morning safari from 7.00 am to 10.30 am, in the month of February you have to go between 6.30am to 10.00am and the remaining months you can be there from 6.00am to 9.30am. Likewise the evening trip could be planned between 2.30 pm to 7.00 pm depending on the month of the year.
Places To See
Besides the myriad and diverse flora and fauna, there are places like the Ranthambore fort, the Kachida Valley , the Rajbagh Talao, the Padam talao , that you could visit to have a feel of the desert terrain and the lives and times of the Rajput dynasty.
Bakaula is an important and a very fascinating spot nestled with in the park. There is thick vegetation with small pools of water scattered within the region. The availability of water and the thick forest offer ideal habitat conditions to the wildlife. It is one of the ideal places to savor the sight of a tigress walking with her cubs towards the small pools of water. The dense foliage helps in retaining the moisture in the air and lowering the temperature so much so that it is cooler than an air conditioned ambience. Because of its favorable temperature you can see birds of various types flocking around. What a spectacle!
The Kachida valley on the other hand comprising of numerous low rocky hills provides the ideal habitat to panthers. The panthers are spotted in good numbers here as they avoid venturing into the main park area which is home to the fiercer tigers. You could hire a Jeep to venture into this area. This area also has good population of bears.
Your visit to Ranthambore is incomplete without a visit to the Fort which stands with all its magnificence as a reminiscent of the rich Rajasthani culture, heritage and architecture. If you are an admirer of Indian History, you will find yourself exploring and witnessing the lives of the Rajput Kings. It not only offers fodder for the eyes but also for the brain as you wonder how meticulously things were planned so long ago. It sends chills down your spine when you relate to the Jauhar or the mass suicide committed by the women of the Rajput dynasty to save their honor from the invading army. As you walk up the hill towards the Fort, you are captivated by the breathtakingly beautiful view of the forest beneath.
If you are at the Ranthambore, the other ‘must see’ locations include Jogi Mahal or the forest guest house, the Padam Talao which is sight to behold with its innumerable water lilies, the Malik talao and the Rajbagh talao.
Where To Stay-Hotels And Resorts
Over the years with increasing traffic of visitors this place has also evolved into a tourist spot which has accommodation fitting into varied budget ranges.You get High End resorts like Vanya Vilas and Aman-I khas to standard/economy hotels like Jungle view resort, Tiger Safari resort, Sanctuary Resort. There are luxury resorts like the Taj Sawai Madhopur lodge and Sher Bagh. While the tariff at the high end luxury resorts like Vanya Vilas is around 40,000 INR per night, the standard economy hotels offer you rooms for as low as 1300 INR.
How To Reach
Ranthambore is well connected with all the major destinations in India. Easiest way is to reach to Sawai Madhopur which is connected by trains to and from Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur. Those destinations which are not connected to Sawai Madhopur are connected to Jaipur which is a mere 132 kilometers away from Ranthambore. Nearest Airports are at Jaipur and Kota.
What To Wear
If you are going during March and June be prepared to brave the scorching heat with very light clothes, sun screen cream/lotion, a pair of goggles and a round big Hat. In winter layers and layers of warm clothes and woolens are required to protect you from the freezing temperature.
It is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling destinations for wild life lovers. You come back with the imprints of Jhamri, Jhumroo,Macchhlii, Bacchi,the resident population (read tigers) etched in your memory for ever. Capturing the wildlife in its various moods while they roam about lazily happens to be a photographer’s delight and Ranthambore offers you some precious moments for your lens.