Ranthambhore National Park - Tigers and History
Ranthambore is one of the best national parks in the world to see and photograph wild Bengal tigers, in their natural habitat. It offers an experience like no other visitors may have had before. Here wildlife and history lies perfectly entwined. Wild tigers roam the ruins of the imposing Ranthambhore fort. Here the tigers are not merely beautiful animals, they have names too – Chenghis, Bambooram, Jhumru, Machali - and have become icons of local folklore.
The first thought that comes to the mind while visiting Ranthambhore is that it is different from any other tiger reserve in India. The Park which spans 392 km2 derives its name from Ranthambhore Fort which sits on a rocky outcrop in the heart of the Park. The fort dates back to the 10th century and is probably one of the oldest in Rajasthan.
Tigers at Ranthambore have been known to hunt even in full view of human visitors. These tigers are famous for being seen in the daytime, due to their lack of fear of humans in vehicles. As a result, Ranthambhore is one of the best places in the world to photograph tigers in their wild, natural habitat.
The vegetation in the park is of a dry deciduous type. There are many water bodies located all over the park, which provide relief to the animals during the extremely hot summer months. There are many ruins of bygone eras scattered all over the jungle, which give it a unique, wonderful flavor of nature, history and wildlife.
The three lakes – Padam Talao, Raj Talao and Milak Talao are ideal spots to see half-submerged sambar deer feeding on the weeds. The lakes also have Mugger crocodiles and it is not unusual to see the deer being dragged into deeper water by the crocodiles.
The Chambal River forms a natural boundary of the Ranthambore National Park towards the east, while the river Banas, a tributary of the Chambal, flows to the northeast of the park. Characterised by rocky plains with gentle slopes, flat hill tops (locally known as 'Dang') and precipitous cliffs covered by a dry decidous forest, the landscape is dotted with old banyan trees, dhok trees, Flame of the forest, mango and in some areas evergreen blackberry trees.
Ranthambhore Fort ( UNESCO Heritage hill forts of India)
The fort provides breathtaking panoramic view of the forest in every direction.
The construction of the formidable Ranthambhore Fort was started in 944 AD. It proved to be one of the most strategic forts built, controlling the trade routes between North India and Central India. The enormous fort covers an area of approximately 7 km in circumference.
The army of the Moghul Emperor Akbar camped here (1558-1569) and the Akbar Namah records the menu that the generals were served when they had a meal under the famous banyan tree that visitors can still see at the base of the ramparts.
The control of the fort was finally handed over to the Maharaja of Jaipur in the late 17th century. The fort then remained with the royal family of Jaipur. The surrounding jungle which now forms the National Park was then the royal hunting forest.
Machali the queen of the lakes:
Machali is probably the most famous and most photographed tiger in the world and has starred in three documentaries. “Machali” in Hindi means fish, but for regular visitors to Ranthambhore Machali is the resident tigress of the area around the Ranthambhore Fort. In early 1999 she marked the area of the lakes in Ranthambhore as her territory and has stayed there since then. She has given birth to four litters since then. She is now old and her territory has now become part of the territory of her dominant cub from the last litter.
The last legal tiger hunt in India
In 1960, the Maharaja of Jaipur invited Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, for a royal Shikar (=hunting party). Despite objections from the locals the hunt went ahead with lavish preparations for the Queen that included clearing great areas for the luxury campsite, creating an air strip and a flushable toilet equipped with a red velvet seat cover for comfort from the morning chill. Labourers created a fenced area and guided a tigress into it for Prince Philip to make the last legal tiger shoot in India.
Fauna of Ranthambhore
Besides tigers, the other wild cats found in Ranthambhore are Leopards, Caracals, Jungle cats and Rusty Spotted cats.Other large mammals that can be seen in Ranthambore tiger reserve are the Sloth bear, Indian fox, Jackal and Striped Hyena.
The ungulates include Sambhar, Spotted deer (Chital), Blue bull (Nilgai), Chinkara (Indian gazelle) and Wild boar.
Troupes of common langur monkeys are found everywhere, but beware... they have a tendency to urinate on tourists from the trees.
There are over 320 species of birds, both resident and migratory. Species recorded here include Crested Serpent Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Great Indian Horned Owl, Sandgrouse, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Spoonbill, White-rumped Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, King Vulture, White-throated Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Greater Coucal, and the Black-rumped Flameback.
Nearby Destinations & Attractions
Nearest Airport – Jaipur – 150 km / 3 hrs
Railway Staion - Sawaimadhopur - 10 km . Well connected to New Delhi by 6 hrs journey
Best time to visit and Climate :The best time to visit Ranthambhore is between November and May. While the winter months Nov – Feb is the best time for wildlife photography, the Spring & Summer months Marh – May are the best for tiger sightings. July - September, the park remains closed due to monsoon.
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