Ranthambore National Park – Tiger Haven, India
Ranthambore National Park is located in the State of Rajasthan in India and is one of the largest parks in the country. Situated in the district of Sawai Madhaopur, the park was declared a game sanctuary in 1955 and was later declared a tiger reserve in the year 1973. Named after a ruined fort located in the middle of the park, it is one of the best places for a tiger sighting. The national park is also renowned for one of the largest Banyan trees in India. This park is bordered by two rivers, the Banas and the Chambal, and also has many lakes that enable richness in flora and fauna.
The nearest airport is in the city of Jaipur which is located around 145 Kilometers or eighty miles from the sanctuary. The park is also accessible by railroad and the nearest railway station of Sawai Madhaopur is around 11 kilometers or six miles away. The railway station lies on the Delhi Mumbai Trunk route, making it easily accessible from these two metro cities. The park is also connected to other major cities in Rajasthan by road; however it is advisable to choose a rail or air route for getting there since road journeys in India can be very tiring.
The Ranthambore National park is famous for its tigers and attracts tourists and academicians from around the world for a glimpse of this magnificent creature. The population of tigers here is around twenty five which is lesser that the number recorded in the year 1988. However, the park is also home to many other species of fauna and some of them include Indian leopards, Dhols, Hyenas, Sloth bears, Crocodiles, Chitals and Sambhars.
The fort is located in the middle of the park and is mostly in ruins; built in the tenth century, it houses three temples and towers seven hundred feet above its surroundings. The fort is a formidable affair and was the battleground for many armies in the past and holds immense historical importance. A mosque is also situated in the fort; a reminder of the Mughal rulers who once governed the place. This fort also has many small lakes and water bodies near it that provide a safe haven for birds and other animals in the park.
The Padam Lake is another attraction in the park and is one of the largest lakes in the sanctuary. This lake is also famous another remarkable attraction which is the banyan tree that is believed to be one of the largest in India. The lake is also adjacent to the beautiful Jogi Mahal which is located at the foot of a nearby fort. It does not take long to spot a tiger in these parts of the forest and the animals are used to human presence and scarcely take notice. Adorned with white water lilies this lake is considered one of the most beautiful ones in the park.
This is a place located north of the sanctuary and is ideal for spotting the famous sloth bear. The place is home to many ant hills which makes it a happy hunting ground for these black furry creatures that are found only in this subcontinent. Bakula is also one of the interesting areas of the park and is thickly covered with forest. This makes it a safe haven for many animals which can be easily spotted in the pristine surroundings of this part of the jungle.
Getting around the park can be accomplished by either hiring a Jeep or by using the smaller buses that are provided by the forest authorities. The jeep ride is costlier compared to the bus ride; however a jeep ride is the best way of ensuring a favorable outcome as far as game spotting is concerned. The safaris start at daybreak and also in the afternoon but the best time to enjoy the beauty of the forest is in the morning when animals are easily spotted. A morning safari also gives you a chance of witnessing a sunrise that is beautiful as well as breathtaking.
The Ranthambore Forest Resort is one of the best places to stay and is run by the local authorities. The advantage of staying here is that you are never far away from the sanctuary and can also indulge in the local grapevine by socializing with the locals. The Taj Sawai Mahaopur Lodge is another place that is recommended; however it is not a five star hotel but a luxurious one. The lodge is located at a twenty minute drive from the park and is sprawled over twelve acres of lush green landscape. Other hotels that are considered among the most luxurious are the Vanya Vilas which is a hotel run by the famous Oberoi group and Aman-I-Khas which is a huge open place that provides large luxurious tents for accommodation.
The best season to visit is between November and March; moreover the park is closed from July to September because of monsoons. Winters are cold and it’s advisable to take winter clothes; especially if you choose budget accommodation since many smaller hotels do not have proper heating or air-conditioning. Video cameras are charged but not normal still photo cameras. The park also experiences heat waves during summers so the best time to visit is in winters or just before summers when the dry deciduous forests make animal sightings possible. Booking of jeeps are done a month in advance by the nearby hotels for their patrons so it is advisable to book a jeep when you book your hotel otherwise the chances of getting a jeep ride are slim since only six jeeps are allowed at one time in the park.
Year Of The Tigers
The central government of India has decided to take further steps to counter poaching and deforestation activities in national parks in India. Although the Project Tiger was launched in the country in the 1970’s, tiger population has been slowly but steadily dwindling in many parts of India. In light of these events the Indian government has decided to name the year 2010 as the year of the Tigers. According to some sources further conservation efforts will be undertaken from Valentines Day next year (2010) starting in Jim Corbett National park and ending with a tiger consultation meet at Ranthambore National Park in November 2010.