At Ranthambhore you are filled with a sense of space - desolate, silent and watching. Mysterious desert lands, awesome hills that surround, and your being geared for the next sighting of the Emperor of the Big Four. The adrenalin dance that accompanies a chance sighting is over the top and yet so real you can taste your fear and reverence. To have been in the presence of a tiger even from afar is akin to having been in the presence of something ancient and yet at the same time leaping with primal life in the here and now.
You will be told that these were the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur but Ranthambhore is older and deeper than that! Legends are confirmed by a trip to its old jungle fort. Vast spaces within the fort overlook the stark vistas of the desert lands below. The fort is awe inspiring- a whispering corridor, revered langurs that could steal handfuls of your possession at the bat of an eye lid …a temple with a deity so loved that postmen deliver letters addressed to him, colourful yearly festivals…and oh! Is that the mellifluous jingle of anklets worn by dancers of yore carried in the wind? Or your senses in consonance with this ancient space as you learn of its legends?
Come to Ranthambhore armed with a camera - it is after all the best place in the world to photograph the tiger - a pair of binos and the keenest senses…
The ancient jungle fort or vanadurg, Ranthambhore, that towers above the surrounding forests situated in the centre of the sanctuary lends its name to the National Park. The fort in turn is named after the two hills in its nearby vicinity – Thanbhor on which the fort is built and Ran the hill rising behind the edifice of the fort.
Pre-independence Ranthambhore was the Hunting Reserve exclusive to the Maharajas of Jaipur. Though declared the Sawai Madhopur Wildlife Sanctuary in 1955 hunting continued until it was banned in 1970. In fact in 1960 Queen Elizabeth II of England and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Ranthambhore and partook in a royal hunt as guests of the Maharaja of Jaipur. In 1973 when project Tiger was launched nine Tiger Reserves were chosen and Ranthambhore was one of them. In 1981 Ranthambhore was awarded National Park status and this facilitated the location of villages outside the area of the Reserve. In the years 1981-91 a gradual yet vibrant transformation was apparent - the increase of the tiger population. These new era Tigers did not experience the intrusion and aggression of man and were comfortable around people. Viewed as the golden period of Ranthambhore tigers and tigresses endeared themselves to visitors at the sanctuary; they were given names that reflected their awe inspiring majestic essence - Genghis, Kublai, Akbar, Laxmi, Noor Jahan. When Ranthambhore was brought under the Tiger Project there were only 14 Tigers. The 1989 census revealed the accelerated population growth of 44 tigers.
Sadly in 1992 the Tiger census revealed a drastic drop in the Tiger population to 15-20. India was the grips of its second Tiger crisis. The success of Project Tiger had created new problems- when earlier Tigers were hunted for their skins and hence the ban on hunting imposed in 1970, now they were being poached for their bones a high value commodity in the Far East market.
Once again in the years 2002-03 strict protection of the Tigers was in place and the Tiger population was up again. But in 2005 this situation oscillated again - 21 Tigers were recorded missing when a census conducted revealed that the Tiger population had dropped from 47 to 26. India was in the grip of its Third Tiger crisis.
Location and Climate
The Ranthambhore National Park and Tiger Sanctuary measures 392 sq. km and is located in the western state of Rajasthan. Ranthambhore is situated 11 km from Sawai Madhopur township 100 km south east of Ajmer and 145 km away from Jaipur and 380 km from Delhi.
Ranthambhore is situated on the outer fringes of the Thar Desert, the world’s seventh largest desert and surrounded by the awesome Vindhya and Aravalli hills. The Tiger Reserve is bound by the Chambal river in the south and river Banas in the north.
The vegetation of the area is characterized by tropical dry deciduous forests, tropical thorn forests, rocks and grasses.
The climate is extreme, characteristic of desert climate - the summers dry and hot, the winters bitingly chilly.
Summer: April – June
Winter: October- March
Monsoon: July- mid September
The ideal time to visit Ranthambhore is between September and March.
The main languages spoken locally are Rajasthani and Hindi. English is easy to come by since Ranthambhore being a famous Tiger reserve is an area of intense global attraction.
Ranthambhore National Park
It is the National Park that put Ranthambhore on the map of the world. A vibrant haven for wild beasts, it is not just the home of the Tiger but also that of the leopard, caracal, striped hyena, sloth bear, jungle cat, wild boar, crocodile and over well over 300 species of birds.
The tiger is the Lord of Ranthambhore sanctuary, making it among the few places in the world where a sighting at close quarters is a day to day possibility. Tigers can be spotted even at daytime, especially on the edges of the watering holes - the three lakes Padam Talab, Raj Bagh Talab and Milak Talab.
Gazing at a tiger convinces you that beauty, symmetry and unbridled power have achieved divine proportions in this beast. One sighting is never enough. And repeated sightings of the tiger, which you are assured of, only evoke an adrenalin surge from another realm all together.
Panthers in sizeable numbers also make their presence felt, though generally spotted at the peripheral boundaries of the park. Maybe this is so because of their inevitable conflict with the tigers – the age-old battle for command and dominance amidst predatory cats.
List of Mammals
Caracal, Felis caracal
Local name: Siyagosh
Tiger, Panthera tigris
Local name: Sher, Bagh;
Leopard or Panther, Panthera pardus
Local name: Baghera
Jungle cat, Felis chaus
Local name: Jungli bilaw;
Small Indian Civet, Viverricula indica
Local name: Kasturi;
Palm civet or Toddy Cat, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
Local name: Bijju;:
Common Mongoose, Herpestes edwardsi
Local name: Neola;
Small Indian Mongoose, Herpestes auropunctatus
Local name: Chhota Nevla;
Striped Hyena, Scientific name: Hyena hyena
Local name: jarakh;
Indian Fox,: Vulpex bengalensis
Local name: Lombdi;
Jackal, Canis aureus
Local name: Gidar, Siyar;
Dhole or Indian Wild Dog, Cuon alpinus
Local name: Jangli Kutta
Wolf, Canis lupus
Local name: Bhediya;
Sloth Bear, Melursus ursinus
Local name: Bhalu / Richh;
Honey Badger or Ratel, Mellivora capensis
Local name: Booch / Kabar Bijju;
Hedgehog, Hemiechunus auritus
Local name: Jhau Chuha
Grey Musk Shrew, Suncus murinus
Local name: Chhachundar;
Common Yellow Bat, Scotophilus heathis
Indian False Vampire, Megaerma lyra
Indian Flying Fox, Pteropus gigateus
Local name: Chamgadar
Short nosed Fruit Bat
Local name: Chamgadar
Five-striped Palm Squirrel, Funambulus pennanti
Local name: Gilheri;
Common House Rat, Rattus rattus
Local name: Chuha;
House Mouse, Mus musculus
Local name: Undra;
Desert Gerbil, Meriones hurruianae
Local name: Registani Chuha;
Common House Rat, Rattus rattus
Local name: Chuha;
Indian Mole Rat
Scientific name: Bandicota bengalensis
Indian Porcupine, Hystrix indica
Local name: Sehi;
Common or Grey Langur, Presbytis entellus
Local name: bander;
Rhesus Macaque, Macaca mulatta
Local name: Bander, lal mooh walla;
Blue Bull, Boselaphus tragocamelus
Local name: Nilgai,
Four gorned Antelope, Tetraceros quadricornis
Local name: Chowsingha;
Chinkara, Gazella gazella
Local name: Chahiugari, chinkara,
Gaur, Bos gaurus
Local name: Jungli Bhains;
Sambar, Cervus unicolor
Local name: Sambar;
Spotted Deer, Cervus Axis
Local name: chital;
Muntjac of Barking Deer, Muntiacus muntjak
Local name Bhansa of Kadad;
Indian Wild Boar, Sus scrofa
Local name: Suar;
Indian Hare, Lepus nigricollis
Local name: Khargosh;
Indian Pangolin, Manis crassicaudata
Special Interest Packages
Most jungle lodges offer guided special interest excursions such as Jeep safaris, Elephant safaris, Camel rides, Bird watching excursions etc.
Built in 994 A.D. by a Chauhan warrior, the ancient Ranthambhore Fort has stood the ravages of time rather well. Located atop a rocky outcrop 200 m above sea level, in the middle of the forest it marks the meeting juncture between the awesome Aravali and Vindhya mountain ranges.
The view from the Fort of the lay of the land, forests and lakes is stunning. The circumference of this enormous fort spans approximately 7 km. One of the oldest forts in the country its age, the tainted walls, pavilions, chhatris and monuments all conjure up the grandeur of past.
Owing to its location in the middle of the forest as well as its topography and impenetrable structure, it was once considered a near impossibility to overthrow the fort. Failed attempts by infamous warriors all seeking to possess the fort that marked the passage into central India, such as Alaudin Khilji, Kutb-ud-din, Feroz Tughlaq, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat all proved futile. This was in the 11th century, the palace of Veer Hammir, a great Rajput warrior. Hammir is said to have have given refuge to Muhammed Shah, A rebel Against Alauddin Khilji. Eventually Khilji waged war against Hammir and occupied the fort. It is said that more than ten thousand women jumped to their death committing mass suicide from the fort to escape being taken prisoner by Khilji and the barbaric invading armies. In 13th century A.D. Govinda, grandson of Prithviraj Chauhan ruled the land and had possession of the fort. In the middle of the 15th century A.D. Rana Kumbha overthrew the fort and gifted it to his son. It was later occupied by the Hada Rajputs of Bundi and Mughal Emperors Babur, Akbar and Aurangazeb. Later in the late 17th century the fort was gifted by the Mughals to the Maharaja of Jaipur, after which it remained with the royal family of Jaipur.
The numerous water bodies present within the fort make it an excellent spot for bird watching.
The fort is full of beautiful temples and a mosque, amongst which is a Hanuman temple amongst where langurs roam freely. They are treated with reverence and are absolutely unafraid, even stealing food from the hands of surprised visitors!
The most famous of the temples is that which is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. So revered that local legend states that the area postman makes the trip up to the fort everyday to deliver letters addressed to the deity from worshippers…
Stop a while, take in the acoustics of the Hammir court - a whisper can be heard at the other end of the building...
Armed with a source of light, explore Gupt Ganga where a series of steps that cut into rock arrive at a perennial stream. The steps come to an abrupt stop so keep your wits about you… and then there is the possibility of coming to close proximity with bats and snakes…
All over India Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha. The celebrations vary in culture and scale from state to state but it could be said that it marks the advent of all festivals dedicated to other Indian Gods yearlong.
About 12 km from Sawai Madhopur is the 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha which is located inside the fort of Ranthambhor. It is one of the most important Ganesha temples in the State. So the flurry of activity surrounding the temple is always colourful as there is a belief that the first invitation for a marriage and many other auspicious functions must be delivered to Lord Ganesha.
The Ganesha Festival at Ranthambhore
The eyes take in a sea of yellow at the celebration of the Ganesha Festival at Ranthambhore. The idol is painted in yellow, adorned with gold ornaments and garlanded with endless chains of marigolds. The colourful festival happens in August – September every year when devotees gather to sing spiritual songs in praise of Lord Ganesha.
Excursions from Ranthambhore
Sawai Madhopur - 11 km from Ranthambhore, Sawai Madhopur once of great importance to the Rajput rulers is famous for its historical monuments and related legends.
Karauli - founded in 1348 A.D, Karauli is famous for its beautiful temples and architectural jewels.
Bundi - Renowned for its splendid monuments and fort - Taragarh fort (1354), Bundi Palace, the Bhim Burj and a huge water reservoir is situated 66 Km from Ranthambhore.
How to get there
The nearest airport is the Jaipur airport located at a distance of 140 kms from Ranthambhore. Domestic flights from Jaipur connect the city to important towns and cities in India.
Sawai Madhopur 11km away is the major railway station near Ranthambhore. The station is connected by regular trains from othercities of Rajasthan and India.
Ranthambhore is connected by roads with towns and cities in Rajasthan. Rajasthan Tourism Department and as well as private operators run buses to and from Ranthambhore.
Where to Stay
The Sawai Madhopur Lodge, Sawai Madhopur
Dev Vilas, Ranthambore
The Pug Mark Resort, Ranthambore
Ranthambhore Regency, Ranthambhore
Ranthambhore Forest Resort
Hotel Raj Palace, Ranthambhore
Nahargarh, Ranthambhore (Sawai Madhopur)
Ranthambhore Safari Lodge , Ranthambhore (Sawai Madhopur)
Tiger Den Resort, Ranthambhore