Ranthambore, the tiger heaven

Highly revered for the natural habitat to the significant number of Royal Bengal tigers, the Ranthambore tiger reserve is very popular among the wildlife lovers for its diurnal tigers, which means tourists can easily spot a tiger during their day safari visit.

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By Journey Man

Ranthambore National Park holds a significant status in the tourism sector of India with its distinct class and charm. The Ranthambore National Park is not one of the biggest national parks of India, but surely it is the most famous. Situated in the vicinity of the Aravali hills and the Vindhya plateau, the Ranthambore forest spreads over an area of 1334 sq km with the 392 sq km of the area as the national park.

Highly revered for the natural habitat to the significant number of Royal Bengal tigers, the Ranthambore tiger reserve is very popular among the wildlife lovers for its diurnal tigers, which means tourists can easily spot a tiger during their day safari visit.

That makes the Ranthambhore National Park is a popular tourist destination. Due to many of the popular tigers living in this forest park, thousands of tiger lovers from all over the world visit here daily during the safari season. Among many famous tigers, the tigress Machli was the most celebrated tiger in the world. Watching these dangerous wild predators in their natural wild environment at a short distance is really an adrenaline-pumping adventure to savour for your whole life.

The park not only boasts of its populous tiger reserve, but also the heritage sites which includes the mighty Ranthambore Fort, Jogi Mahal, Ancient temple and Rajbagh ruins which are the reminders of glory and grandeur of the rulers of Ranthambore.

Many picturesque lakes like Padam Talao, Malik Talao, Raj Bagh Talao and others enrich the landscape of this forest which consists of deciduous trees, small hills, valleys and lush greenery. The park is enclosed by the Chambal River and Banas River from the two sides, enhancing the wild ambience of the Ranthambhore forest.

Without any doubt, the tour to this National Park of Rajasthan will be the best holiday for you if you actually love nature and wildlife. The whole experience of watching majestic tigers roaming freely in the park, a mesmerizing gamut of ultimate species of animals and birds and captivating greenery will enthral you and you will be thanking yourself for having embarked on this wildlife journey

HISTORY
The Ranthambore forest, which has got its name from the famous Ranthambore Fort, situated in the middle of the jungle, witnesses the long vibrant history of the imperial era. During the regal era, before the independence of India, there was an enormous forest cover, spanning almost the entire Indian sub-continent. But with time, as the population grew and industrial development began, to cater the needs of the people, the exploitation of forests was started which led to the massive destruction of the green cover in the country.

The shrinking forest cover and wildlife in the country compelled the government to give attention to this mounting problem and thus various policies were introduced to save the remaining forests and the wild inhabitants of the forests by making them reserve forests and national parks.

Before the end of the imperial era in Rajasthan, the Ranthambore forest was the exclusive hunting ground for the royal members of the Jaipur kingdom. The forest was owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur and managed by their hunting department. The local residents of the villages around the forest were allowed to take the forest produce after paying the little yearly tax to the kingdom’s treasury department. However, at that time, the population density around the forest was so low that there was hardly any impact on the jungle due to human interference. Even being a hunting place for the Jaipur Royals, no significant damage could be possible to such a large forest and its rich wildlife species due to the occasional hunting practice.

The Rajasthan Forest Act
However, due to the severe exploitation of the forest areas in India, the forest conservation policies were badly needed in the country by the mid of the twentieth century. Thus, in 1953, the Rajasthan Forest Act came into force to provide some legal protection to the forests in Rajasthan. Though it was not enough to completely safeguard the forest cover, it has slowed down the exploitation a little bit.

In 1955, the entire forest cover around Ranthambore was declared as the Sawai Madhopur Sanctuary and, thus, any kind of commercial activity in the forest was completely prohibited. However, the count of tigers in the forests was diminishing and this wild predator came on the verge of extinction in the country.

Project Tiger
So, a tiger conservation program Project Tiger was instigated in 1973 by the government of India. An area of 60 sq miles of Sawai Madhopur Sanctuary was taken under the Project Tiger Scheme and the area was declared as the Tiger Reserve Area.

By 1980, more than 12 villages were shifted out of the sanctuary and an area of around 282.03 sq km was declared as the national park. Since then the area of tiger reserve and the national park increased over the time by including the adjacent forest areas in the protected zone. In 1983, 647 sq km of forest that was lying adjacent to the north side of the Ranthambore National Park was named as the Kela Devi Sanctuary and included in the tiger reserve zone. In the same way, 130 sq km of forest lying beside the southern periphery of the park was declared as the Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary in 1984 and also incorporated into the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

Due to these tiger conservation efforts, the count of tigers has surged tremendously after 1973 since the project tiger was initiated. According to the latest census in 2014, the count of tigers reached around 64 (this has further increased) in the Ranthambore tiger reserve. Safari in Ranthambore National Park is considered the best in the world to view wild tigers in their natural habitat.

Other Tourist Attractions
Ranthambore Fort
One of the ancient forts in India, the Ranthambore Fort is declared as a UNESCO world heritage site due to its historical significance. The fort is located inside the Ranthambore National Park, at a distance of 13 km from the Sawai Madhopur railway station. This heritage fort is said to be built in 944 AD and has witnessed the long history of Rajasthan.

The epitome of valour and pride of the Rajput rulers of the various kingdoms, the Ranthambore Fort was the strategic fort and thus captured by various rulers. At the time of the Independence of India and the abolition of the imperial era, the fort was under the Maharaja of Jaipur and the Ranthambore forest was the exclusive hunting ground for the Royals of Jaipur kingdom.

Bakula Region
Considered as the best region for tiger visibility in the Ranthambore forest, the Bakula region is the ultimate scenic landscape covered with the dense greenery and water bodies. The thickly forested land of Bakula along with the numerous ponds, water holes give the unique wilderness effect to the Ranthambore forest. Due to the dense forest, water availability and remote area, there is an abundance of wildlife in the area making it a paradise for the wildlife lovers. The tiger sighting is relatively high in this area and tourists often get the sight of a relaxing tiger, especially tigress relaxing or walking with her cubs are often seen in the area.

Kachida Valley
Located at the periphery of the tiger reserve zone, the Kachida Valley is a must visit place for the wildlife with the abundance of the panthers, bears and other wild animals as well as a distinguished mesmerizing landscape which having steep outcrops, small valley, low hills, ravines and water bodies. The lush greenery and tranquil surroundings make this place a true wilderness away from any human activity. You can visit here only through the Jeep Safari Ranthambore and explore the wilderness and the beauty of the Kachida Valley.

Jogi Mahal
The Jogi Mahal, which is now a tourist attraction inside the Ranthambore forest, was once the resting abode for the Royals of Jaipur Kingdom while they visited Ranthambore for the hunting excursion. The small palace beautifully nestled in the wilderness of the Ranthambore at the bank of the famous Padam Lake offers an amazing site for monuments lovers. The big banyan tree situated near the palace is the second largest banyan tree in the country which is also an attraction for tourists.

Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History :
This museum is located outside the forest and can be visited for the knowledge of biodiversity of the Ranthambore region, which includes detailed information on the flora and fauna found in the forest.

Trinetra Ganesha Temple
Highly famous among the devotees of the Lord Ganesha since ancient times, the Ganesha temple located at the entrance of the Fort is the only temple of Trinetra Ganesha in the country. The idol of Lord Ganesha with his wives Riddhi and Siddhi makes it also a special temple of Ganesha with his full family. There are many legends associated with the foundation of the temple which make this temple a unique and popular religious place for the Hindu devotees.

The temple is also famous for its unique tradition of getting the postal invitation letters sent by the devotees for inviting the Lord Ganesha for any auspicious occasion in their family. The temple receives many thousands of invitation letters every day and each and every letter has been read by the priest in front of the Idol.

Jungle Safari in Ranthambore National Park :
Exploring the interiors of a dense wild forest always fascinates wildlife lovers and they visit such forest where they can explore the wildlife. The forest of Ranthambore has always been an attraction for the wildlife tourists for many years due to its amazing wildlife especially the Royal Bengal Tigers. The safari organized by the Ranthambore forest administration is the best way to explore the large tranquil forest which is the natural habitat for the numerous distinct wildlife species. The Jeep safari and Canter Safari are the only two options to explore the Ranthambore National park. Here are details about the safari organized in the Ranthambore tiger reserve.

Jeep Safari Inside Ranthambore Park :
The Jeep Safari Ranthambore is the Jungle tour allowed in the 6-seater Jeep vehicle which is all sides open for the best viewing experience. Jeep is considered to be one of the best options for wildlife photography and mostly preferred for those who are willing to have their family to maintain privacy. Though, Canter and Jeep both are reachable to deep forest and even the narrow places. Jeep safari is usually preferable for those who are willing to explore the jungle with their loved ones with complete privacy.

Spotting tigers in both jeep and canter is feasible and can easily trail the wild animals without making much noise which increases the chance to spot the tiger as well as provide you the closer view of the wildlife. Also, the few seats means you can book all the seats in a Jeep for you and your friends or family, and trail the wildlife as per your likings within the allotted zone and time slot. The Jeep safari is organized in two shifts in a day and 17 Jeeps are allowed in each shift.

Canter Wildlife Safari :
The Canter Safari is the Jungle tour allowed in the 20-seater Bus which is also an open vehicle to offer you the best viewing experience. The Canter Safari is not as good as the Jeep Safari, but it offers you the economical way to explore the forest. Also, it is hard to book a seat on a Jeep Safari as almost all the seats in Jeep Safaris have been booked in advance, while it is comparatively easy to get seats in Canter Safari. The Canter Safari is also organized in two shifts in a day and 20 Canter is allowed in each shift. However, the number of tourists is much higher than the available safari so it is always advised to book your Jeep or Canter safari well in advance before visiting the Ranthambore to avoid any last minute hassle.

There are 10 safari zones in the Ranthambore National Park and the zones are randomly allotted to the safari vehicles at the time of entry by a computer generated zone allotment system. Each vehicle has to enter in the given zone only and is allowed to drive anywhere within the zone but only on the safari tracks. The sighting of the Majestic tiger depends on sheer luck, but zone 1 to 6 are considered best zones when it comes to the tiger sighting as the most of the big lakes are in these zones and the chances of spotting tigers, leopards and other wild animals are higher near the water bodies.

How to reach Ranthambore
By Air:
Sanganer Airport is the nearest field and is located at Jaipur. The distance from Jaipur to Ranthambore is about 180 km. Regular takeoffs are available for Jaipur from all major metropolises of India so excursionists can land at this place easily. Excursionists from Sanganer Airport can take a cab to reach the place comfortably.

By Rail:
Sawai Madhopur is the nearest train line station located at a distance of 10 km. The Sawai Madhopur train line station is well connected from all major metropolises and municipalities so excursionists can take the train from anywhere to reach the place easily. From outside the road station the excursionists can take a taxi or cab to reach the Ranthambore National Park easily.

By Road:
Ranthambore is well connected from all major metropolises and municipalities through the state bus service so that the people can fluently take buses from the nearby residents to reach the place comfortably. Piecemeal from the state bus service, excursionists also have a choice to take the motorcars of original, luxury and private drivers. All these motorcars help excursionists to visit the place comfortably. Jaipur (157 km), Delhi (417 km), Ahmedabad (657 km) Ajmer (274 km) and Jodhpur (450 km) can be travelled via road from Ranthambore. Vacuity of State possessed and private motorcars solves the purpose of how to reach Ranthambore. Still the road conditions from the Agra/ Bharatpur side are veritably bad. The road from Tonk is in decent condition.

Best time to visit Ranthambore for Tiger Sighting :
As the Ranthambore National Park is situated in the western part of India and has a dry subtropical climate. The ‘extreme is a common phenomenon for the temperature in the Ranthambore region as it crosses above 45 degrees in the peak summer season as well as it drops up to 2 degrees in the peak winter season. So, from October to April is a relatively better time to visit Ranthambore, as the temperature is moderately warm in the daytime and cool at night.

During the period from July to September, the park is closed due to the monsoon season and the monsoon season is the mating season for the Tigers. However, the summer season is considered best for tiger sighting, especially near the lakes and water holes as big cats often visit to quench the thirst and also to hunt the prey who visit the lakes.

Tiger population:
Ever since after the establishment of the Reserve in 1973, the number of tigers is maximum in present times.

The number of tigers and their cubs in the adjoining areas of Ranthambore has gone up from 66 in 2019 to 81 in 2021. Presently, the ratio of male to female tiger is 1:1.3 which is abnormal, said the Forest Department of Rajasthan.

The record submitted in the state Assembly on missing tigers revealed that a total of 13 tigers have disappeared from the Ranthambore National Park between 2019 and 2021.

Safari Timings in Ranthambore
Safari in Ranthambore can be experienced through different accessible zones and the timings for it vary in summers and in winters. Check out the table below:
-October 1 to October 31            7.00 A.M. to 10.30 A.M., 2.30 P.M. to 6.00 P.M.
-November 1 to  January 31         7.00 A.M. to 10.30 A.M, 2.00 P.M. to 5.30 P.M.
-February 1 to March 31               6.30 A.M. to 10.30 A.M, 2.30 P.M. to 6.00 P.M.
-April 1 to May 15                         6.00 A.M. to 9.30 A.M, 3.00 P.M. to 6.30 P.M.

Where to stay:
1.Ranthambore Kothi, Starting @Rs9999
Encompassed by the lush green forests and edged with soothing sight of natural water lake, Ranthambhore Kothi offers a never to be forgotten experience, with an exciting chance to glimpse the very rare tigers, and other species in complete wild. If your senses need soothing and frayed nerves need mending, a holiday with Ranthambhore Kothi will restore you. Nestled by the thick vegetation, picturesque vantages, and green field gardens with the proximity to National Park, ‘Ranthambhore Kothi’ promises an excellent holiday experience.

2.The Baagh Ananta Elite, Staring price @Rs9026
The Baagh Ananta Elite is a luxurious property at the threshold of the National Park in Ranthambore. This resort is known for its impeccable services and world-class hospitality giving you all modern facilities in Ranthambore.