The Ranthambore National Park is one of the oldest, largest and most popular national parks in India. It is known all over the world for its tiger population. Located 150 kilometers from Jaipur in the Sawai Madhopur district, Ranthambore is home to some of the most exotic animal species found in the Indian subcontinent; some of them are leopards, nilgai, hyena, sloth bear, chital etc. There was once a time when the park served as a hunting ground for the Maharajahs living here that resulted in a rapid decline in the tiger population. However, the inception of Project Tiger in 1973 slowly led to a rise in the number of tigers present here. Today, Ranthambore is known for its healthy tiger population that attracts tourists from all over the world.
It goes without saying that one must be a part of a tiger safari during their stay in Maa Ashapura Farm. Despite active movements to increase their numbers, tigers are an endangered species and Ranthambore is one of the last remaining places where you can spot the elusive animal in its natural habitat. Moreover, it is not a difficult task to spot the graceful animal during the day when it is out hunting or taking care of its cubs. During the months of summer, tigers are heavily spotted near the water holes as they need to quench their thirst to battle the heat.
Apart from the park itself, the Ranthambore fort is another highlight of the region. This architectural marvel was gifted to the Maharaja of Jaipur by the Mughals during the 17th century. It is a well-fortified structure that has seven massive gateways. While entering the fort, the 32 pillars chhatri or Battis Khamba Chhatri is sure to stop you right in your tracks. Inside the fort, there are numerous ponds, palaces and Hindu and Jain temples. Some of the structures have withered over time and have been covered by wild shrubs but the entire fort area is a glimpse into a much more glorious past that the Rajputs lived through.
Birdwatchers are in for a treat at Surwal Lake. At just 30 minutes from Ranthambore, Surwal Lake is home to various species of aquatic birds. Some of them are the Bar headed geese, Grey Heron, White Breasted Kingfisher, River Tern, Pelican etc. If you feel Ranthambore is a little too touristy for you, then take a detour to Surwal Lake for some much-deserved solitude.
Among the three large lakes in Ranthambore, Padam Talao is the largest and most tranquil one. It gets its name from the lotus flowers that bloom here. At its edge is the famous Jogi Mahal, another hallmark in the Rajput legacy. If you are lucky, you can spot the chinkara here on certain hot days. There are a lot of Machans nearby as well which you can climb to admire panoramic views of the lake.
On its own, the Ranthambore Fort is a visual spectacle that showcases the royal history and strong military presence that the Rajputs had during their heydays. Though the climb to the top is tiring, it will reward you with some of the best views of the national park. The fort is known for its majestic flair that even the legendary tigers here have not missed out on – having being spotted numerous times in the past atop various points of the fort.
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