Near the township of Sawai Madhopur, in the state of Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park is an outstanding example of Project Tiger's efforts at conservation in the country. The forests around the Ranthambore Fort were once, the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. The desire to preserve the game in these forests for sport, was responsible for their conservation, and subsequent rescue by Project Tiger. In 1972, it was estimated, that there were around 1927 tigers in India, of which Rajasthan had 74, and the number of big cats in Ranthambore Sanctuary was 14. 1972 was also the year that Project Tiger was launched, and this sanctuary was taken into its wings, alongwith seven other sanctuaries and national parks.
The Park sprawls over an estimated area of 400 sq kms. Steep crags embrace a network of lakes and rivers, and atop one of these hills, is the impressive Ranthambore Fort, built in the 10th century. Strategically built on the border of Rajasthan and Malwa, the fort houses some splendid monuments, within its precincts. The terrain fluctuates between impregnable forests and open bushland. The forest is the typically dry deciduous type, with dhok, being the most prominent tree. The entry point to the Park, goes straight to the foot of the fort and the forest rest house, Jogi Mahal. The latter boasts of the second-largest banyan tree in India. The Padam Talab, the Raj Bagh Talab and the Milak Talab are some of the lakes in the area, that attract the tiger population . They have been spotted at the edges of these lakes, and Jogi Mahal itself. Old crumbling walls, ruined pavilions, wells, and other ancient structures stand witness to the region's glorious past. The entire forest is peppered with the battlements and spillovers of the Ranthambore fort - tigers are said to frequent these ruins, too.
As a result of stringent efforts in conservation, tigers, the prime assets of the Park, have become more and more active during the day. More than in any other park or sanctuary in India, tigers are easily spotted here in daylight. They can be seen lolling around lazily in the sun, or feverishly hunting down sambar around the lakes. Therefore, Ranthambore is probably the ideal park for wildlife photography, and it does attract professional wildlife photographers, from all over the globe. Apart from tigers, the park has its share of panthers, too. They are to be found on the outskirts of the park, due to the inevitable conflicts with the tiger population. Kachida Valley, is believed to be the place to sight these rather elusive cats. The other permanent residents of the park include, marsh crocodiles, hyenas, jungle cats and sloth bears. Sambar are found in abundance all over the area, the prime target of all the predators. Chital, nilgai, and chinkara, are the other inhabitants of the region. The avian population comprises of black storks, quails, Bonelli's eagles, spur fowls, crested serpent eagles and painted storks. During the winter months, the Park attracts a lot of migratory birds, primarily a variety of ducks.
The park is best explored through jeeps, which are available on hire.
When To Visit
The best time to visit the park is between October and June.
How To Get ThereBy Air
Jaipur (145 km) is the nearest airport.By Rail
The Park is around 11 km away from Sawai Madhopur railway station, that lies on the Delhi to Bombay trunk route.By Road
A good network of buses connect Sawai Madhopur, the nearest town, with quite a few areas around.
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