Ranthambore? Where is that?
This query always makes me smile, as in 2012 when my husband first told me we were travelling to Ranthambore this is what I remember asking him.
Ranthambore is an expansive wildlife reserve near the Sawai Madhopur district, in Rajashthan. This National Park is spread over 400 kms and known as a Tiger Reserve, apart from which it houses a Fort, a Temple, ancient Trees, Birds and other animals.
Ranthambore National Park also has the distinction of housing the most famous and most photographed Bengal Tigress in the world, Machali, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 20. In fact Machali, who was named thus as she had a fish shaped mark on her forehead, had a major role to play in putting Ranthambore on the world map.
How to get to Ranthambore?
Kota and Jaipur are the nearest cities, and airports.
Situated on the Delhi-Mumbai Railway lines and also linked to Jaipur and Agra by Rail. Trains come as far as Sawai Madhopur, after that you drive to Ranthambore.
The drive from Delhi is 362 kms.
What do you do in Ranthambore?
Going on a Jungle Safari, with the hope of spotting a Tiger, is one of the main reasons people come here.
You could also visit the Museum, test your fitness levels as you trek up to the Ganesh Temple or shop at Dastakar, a store that stocks clothes and accessories made by the locals.
Best Time to visit
The Park is shut for three months in a year, July to September, for the monsoons. Open all the remaining months.
Sightings are pure luck, so I wouldn’t recommend a particular time or season.
What exactly happens on a Jungle Safari?
You will need to book your Safari at least 3 months in advance. Your choice of vehicles are sharing a private jeep with others or choose a seat in a Canter (a large bus)
The Canter works out to be economical but the advantage of a jeep is you can get a better and closer view as the Jeep is completely open on all sides.
The first Safari starts at 6 am and ends at 10 am. The second one starts at 3pm and ends at 6pm.
Ranthambore National Park is divided into different zones, and each vehicle is allotted a fixed zone.
You drive through zones in the hope of spotting a Tiger, even as you spot Deer, Sambal, Neel Gai, Peacocks, Monkeys, varied species of Birds. If you’re lucky, you could spot a Sloth Bear and/or a Leopard too.
Why I find Ranthambore rejuvenating ?
Visiting Ranthambore is rejuvenating because there is a discipline, a routine and a single point agenda.
For all the days we are here we wake up at 4 am every day, are seated in our Jeep at 5:30 and drive towards the park.
The excitement in the air at the park gates is palpable. Guides and drivers shouting out to each other asking ‘Sighting hua kya?’ (Has a Tiger been sighted?)
As soon as the Park gates are thrown open the Jeeps roar in. This is also the point where you lose mobile network, and are thus without distractions.
Throughout the 3+ hours of the bone jarring Safari it is just you and nature, one to one.
Talk is discouraged, and stepping out of the vehicle is not allowed, so you communicate in whispers, only of you have to.
Without you realising it, your mind is devoid of all the day to day thoughts and focused on a single point agenda, spotting a tiger.
For all the days we are there we go for 2 Safari’s daily. Doing so refreshes us and ‘resets our minds’.
It took us 4 years of annual visits and many Safari’s before we could finally spot a Tiger.
Though we will always regret that we never got to see Machali, we’ve had the distinction of watching T28 Star Male at close quarters, as he not only walked towards our jeep but circled it leisurely before he walked away.
We have been following T84 Arrowhead (Machali’s grand -daughter known as Machali Junior) since she was a baby.
Arrowhead is currently the ruling Queen, and has given birth to a new litter, the future generation of Ranthambore.
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