Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is a vast wildlife reserve near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India. It is a former royal hunting ground and home to tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. Its landmarks include the imposing 10th-century Ranthambore Fort, on a hilltop, and the Ganesh Mandir temple. Also in the park, Padam Talao Lake is known for its abundance of water lilies.
Once a private game reserve of the royal House of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the world’s best known wilderness areas. Located 14 kilometres from Sawai Madhopur and at the junction of some of the geologically oldest mountain ranges - the Aravallis and Vindyas - Ranthambore offers some of the finest opportunities for sighting the magnificent tiger in the wild. A mix of rolling hills and crags, and meadows, lakes and rivulets, this dry-deciduous forest system is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Apart from the tiger, you can also spot sloth bear, leopard, caracal, jackal, fox, hyena and mongoose at Ranthambore. The elusive Indian wolf too, has been spotted here occasionally.
The dainty chital, sambhar deer, the blue bull antelope or nilgai, rhesus macaque, langur and an incredible variety of birds amidst a setting of dhok, fig and banyan trees makes a visit to this park a delight – for tourists and naturalists alike. Basking crocodiles, king vulture on a snag, the scream of the serpent eagle, the alarm call of spotted deer are some sights and sounds that make this a safari experience like none other.
The landscape is dominated by the 10th century fortress of Ranthambore while the valleys have numerous cenotaphs, ruins and abandoned settlements overcome by nature - testament to battles and romances of an era long gone. Open from October to June, Ranthambore is accessible by rail from Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur and by road from Jaipur and Delhi. Sawai Madhopur has a range of accommodation to suit every budget and travelers can stay back for a few days to soak in the sunshine and calm of the forests. Given the popularity of the Park among tourists from across the world, it is advisable to make reservations in advance.