Situated in the Remote Confines of Aravali Hills in Rajasthan is an erstwhile hunting reserve. It is now a tiger reserve and a National Park and the Maharajahs of Jaipur no longer hold any sway. A wild tiger haven it is now a conservation unit and a popular tiger safari destination in India.
Ranthambore is a dry deciduous mixed forest with scrub and small patches of grass seen in the core. There are a number of water bodies or lakes within the park. The Rivers Banas and Chambal encircle the park; together they support the whole ecosystem. The destination became hugely famous due a tigress called Machli. She was also known as the lady of the lakes and a crocodile killer. The most photographed tiger in the World she survived to rule Ranthambore for twenty years. Machli means fish in English and she was so named because she had a fish shaped mark in the forehead.
Once a great place for hunts, the number of big cats had come down drastically but strong conservation measure after the initiation of Project Tiger is 1973 brought about a sea change in the population which increased substantially. There are more than fifty tigers in the confines of the park.
The unique feature of the tigers of Ranthambore is that they have mastered the art of hunting deer in the water in the lakes. The tall grass in the periphery provides enough ground to hide and then ambush the unsuspecting deer in the water. Many times there is a scuffle in the water with large crocodiles which creates an interesting spectacle. Since then the reserve has become a sensational place for wildlife tourism in India. The events have also invited major documentary makers to the reserve to make films which have garnered World fame.
This is the reason for the global popularity of the park and hence large number of tourists arrives here every year of tiger safari. Being close to New Delhi the Capital of India with an International Airport and part of the famous Golden Triangle Tours the rush is inevitable. The park is not only home to tigers one can see many enchanting mammals like the caracal, wolf, hyena, leopard, sloth bear, sambar deer, chital, Nilgai, Indian Gazelle, mongoose, jackal, fox, jungle cat, wild boar, langur monkey, rhesus macaque and many small and nocturnal mammals. The marsh crocodile is found here in large numbers and they along with tiger and leopards are the top predators.
The tiger reserve has rich avifauna content and more than two hundred species including pale-arctic migrants can be seen here. Some of the species seen here are the orange headed ground thrush, rock thrush, desert wheatear, painted stork, greater flamingo, verditer flycatcher, painted bush quail, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher,
Ultramarine Flycatcher, Siberian ruby throat, painted and wooly necked stork, Eurasian hobby, marsh harrier, long legged buzzard, greater spotted eagle, laggar falcon the list is endless.
The panoramic settings include majestic fort, temples, havelis, and chhatris. The spectacle that greets the tourist is mesmerizing and provides an ideal setting for a safari holiday.
The safaris are organized on open jeeps and twenty seat canters in ten zones. Hence one needs a permit for each ride that takes place in the morning and evening. Without permit entry is not possible. The jeep rides accord greater privacy but the canter rides are cheaper in comparison. The permits can be booked online but it is better to book through a travel agent or a tour operator. They know which zone will be better for you.
Not only tiger safaris, the accommodations in the park enhance the holiday experience as well. There are a large number of wildlife resorts, high end and heritage hotels which double your pleasure by comfortable and luxurious stay. Some of the Ranthambore accommodations are reputed the World over and provide state of art services and modern amenities. They also organize your safari holiday. Since there is a rush during the festivals and week ends please book the accommodation in advance.