Ranthambore is one of the largest tiger reserves and national parks of India. It is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan. Ranthambore was formal hunting grounds for the royals, spread over 1300 sq km.
The name Ranthambore came from the fort within the reserve which divides two major hills of the reserve, Rann and Thambhor.
Getting to Sawai Madhopur/Ranthambore
By Air: The nearest approachable airport to Sawai Madhopur is Jaipur airport which is well connected with New Delhi, and Mumbai. It is around 180 km away from the center of Sawai Madhopur city. From the airport, you can take buses and Private taxi services to reach Ranthambore or Sawai Madhopur.
By Rail: The Sawai Madhopur railway station is well connected with all the major cities of the country such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Jaipur, etc. All major hotels can pick you up from Sawai Madhopur railway station.
By Road: Sawai Madhopur also has good connectivity with various cities via road. The national highway connects the city with cities like Delhi (400 km), Ajmer (244 km), Jodhpur (436 km), and Pushkar (255 km) as well as Jaipur (180 km). You will find luxurious buses as well as private cabs to reach Sawai Madhopur.
Since I was exploring Udaipur at that time, I traveled from Udaipur via train to Kota and the remaining journey via cab from Kota to Ranthambore. On the way back I took Train from Sawai Madhopur to New Delhi and a flight back to Bangalore.
Stay in Sawai Madhopur/Ranthambore: The travelers are spoilt for the choices when it comes to staying in Sawai Madhopur. There is a range for everyone’s choice of budget, from camp stays to luxurious hotels. Most of the luxury resorts also run the safari packages in private jeeps controlled by the reserve authorities. This takes the hassle of booking slots on the local authority website but comes at a high price.
I stayed at Nahargarh Palace, which is located in the desert very near to the national reserve entrance gates. Other benefits I considered before booking Nahargarh Palace were the beauty of the palace itself, the ease of booking the private trip up to the Ranthambore Fort, Jeep Safari booking, and cultural shows they organize for the guests.
Safari Zones and Booking: The reserve has 10 safari zones, which can be explored using jeeps (6 seats) and canters (20 seats). Jeeps of course take more inner routes within the zones. The safari booking is administrated and managed by the forest officials of the Ranthambore National Park. Every day, two safaris are conducted for a specified time. The Jeeps & Canters carrying groups of tourists are accompanied by a trained and expert guide are allowed to enter the park with a valid permit. There is a fixed route for the safari inside the park within the appointed time. At a time-limited vehicles are allowed into the park for free movement and a better possibility of a sighting.
The assignment of zones is purely on random selection; However, spotting the tigers resting in their natural habitat depends on your pure luck.
I was very happy with the safari booking I did from the Nahargarh Palace safari booking team. The booking was done last minute for the jeep, I was allocated zone 1 on the day of the safari. I did the morning and evening Safari increasing the chances to spot the tigers.
Ranthambore Fort: Believed to be built in the mid 10th century, during the rule of Sapaldaksha, and changed hands within the royals and royal dynasties since it initially came into existence. The fort is considered an epitome of power due to its history of defending the Rajput Empire against the attacks of foreign invaders. The fort is now a tourist attraction and appeals to many historians and many common people who wish to seek more knowledge and experience the architecture and history of the place.
The beautiful ruins of the fort have an aesthetic appeal that can attract the vision and minds of all the people who lay their eyes on the masterpiece.
Trinetra(Three Eyes) Ganesha Temple: Driving through the national reserve, walking through the old walls of Ranthambore Fort, the temple is located on the top of the hill. The temple can only be accessed by foot. The Trinetra Ganesha Temple is the famous and oldest temple of Lord Ganesha in Rajasthan that comprises his whole family all together in one place.
Legend has it that in 1299 AD, a war took place between King Hammeer and Alauddin Khilji at the Ranthambore fortification. During the wartime, they filled their godowns with food and other necessary things in Ranthambhore Fort, where the King dwells. As the war lasted for many years, the stored things in godowns were getting over. King Hammer was a great devotee to God Ganesh. One night when he was sleeping, Lord Ganesh appeared in his dream and said that all the lacking and problems would be over by tomorrow morning. The next day morning, an idol of Lord Ganesh with three eyes stamped from one of the walls of the fort. Also, a miracle took place and the war got over while the godowns got filled again. In 1300 AD, King Hammer built a temple of Lord Ganesh. He placed the idol of Lord Ganesh, Riddhi Siddhi (his wife), and two sons (Shub Labh) along with the idol of mushak.