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Ranthambore – A hidden wonder

The Indian subcontinent boasts of some stunning natural wonders, especially nature reserves. While most of us associate rich lush jungles with south India or the lower reaches of the Himalayas, the state of Rajasthan is always given a miss!

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When you think about the Aravali’s, quite possibly the oldest mountain range in the world, you think about dry desert landscapes in the Thar Desert. Despite the popular belief, the Aravali range starts in New Delhi, and spreads all across Rajasthan with patches of rich forest still in excellent condition. Hidden in a 1334 km square area is a beauty beyond comparison: Ranthambore National Park.

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The forest range was famous as hunting grounds for Indian maharajas in the early 90’s and was declared a protected area in 1955 and further elevated to Project Tiger reserve in 1973. Today, the ruins of the 8th century Ranthambhore Fort form a picturesque background. The fort now lies abandoned with vines and wildlife reclaiming the fort. The sight of a wild tiger yawning away in one of the fort’s balconies where maharajas of Jaipur were pampered is a sight only a few have been lucky to witness.

The park has come up on tourist maps due to the high possibility of spotting the elusive tiger. The park is dotted with man-made lakes built during ancient times where Sambar deer leisurely munch away on Lotus stems in the open. The tigers of Ranthambore, especially the world famous tigress Machhli, have learnt to hunt in the water leading to hordes of wildlife photographers coming to the park.

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How to get there?

The nearest airport is Jaipur, 130 kms away but the easiest way to reach Ranthambore is via train. Sawai Madhopur station is right next to the park’s gate and many major trains make a short stopover here.

Where to stay?

The Oberoi Vanyavilas is an outstanding hotel with services that people remember years after their visit! More affordable hotels are easily available near Sawai Madhopur.

What time to visit?

October to June.

Flora and Fauna: Besides the Royal Bengal Tiger, one can spot Leopards, Caracals, Jungle Cats, Sambar Deer, Chinkara, Sloth Bear, Striped Hyena and many other mammals. The park is also rich in Avifauna with over 272 species including Graylag Goose, Woodpeckers and Indian Gray Hornbills. tip: The forest area will be considerably colder during the morning safaris so be sure to carry an extra layer of clothing even during the summer months!

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