Our friends, Paramita, Manoj and us planned to replicate our Puja plans in Tadoba and Pench and off we went on the road trip to Ranthambore. Read about it; Our detour to this unknown ASI site – Mitaoli Chausath Yogini temple.
The wheel had turned full circle, the Durga Pujas were here again, the 2nd year in the Pandemic. Although Debarshi and I had planned the Ranthambore Safari in June 2021, the vicious second wave had wrecked our plans.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore in North India where you can catch glimpses of wildlife amidst the remains of ancient monuments in the park. The safaris showcase wildlife with interesting natural views. You see herds of deer in large meadows, gazelles in the stony granite outcrops and then a glimpse of the the Royal Bengal Tiger in the abandoned red sandstone Jogi Mahal ! Today the area covers 392 sq. km including the buffer zones.
The vegetation is tropical dry deciduous and tropical thorn along with open bushlands which are watered from the narrow valleys. Adding to that is the presence of several lakes noteworthy being Padam Talab, Raj Bagh Talab, and Malik Talab. This myriad natural landscape make Ranthambore the best place for the Royal Bengal Tiger to be clicked in its natural habitat.
We planned to visit in June 2021 since the summers are more prolific for tiger sightings and creative photography but the Pandemic forced us to keep rescheduling. Voila! in October 2021 , the 18 of us arrived in Ranthambore driving down from Kolkata and Delhi. There were a few who flew down from Kolkata and Mumbai as well.
Paramita Manoj and us drove from Kolkata with a night halt at Allahabad. We had an exciting detour at Mitaoli and then reached Sawai Madhopur quite late in the evening .
Our friends were lodging across 3 resorts – Sawai Vilas, Oberoi Vanya Vilas and we at the Taj Vivanta.
The Forest Safaris
The forest safaris commenced the next morning onwards albeit in different zones . Hemraj Meena was our forest guide known to us through acquaintances. Although the safaris started on a dry note though we were spotting a lot of fresh kills; a fleeting glimpse of a leopard , the friendly langurs and Rufous treepies at the rest stops , but alas the majestic tiger was giving us a miss .
The highlight of course were the days we got unforgettable views of the Tiger , strolling beside us , resting and yawning .
Albeit we did have a field day spotting birds as well, the Taj had its own share of owlets resting in a cozy nook in the oak tree.
Another fascinating aspect this time were the night safaris. On our last evening, Hemraj came in on his jeep and sure enough he knew the place to spot the striped Hyena and the Indian Fox.
When to Visit?
The park is open in winter from October to February and summer from March to June. The best time to visit is December to February, when the weather is cooler and comfortable.
Summers are the best season for tiger sightings. Big cats visit the water bodies for quenching their thirst or preying on thirsty deer. For birds, winter is the best time to visit to view the numerous in house as well as migratory species.
Ranthambore is a National Park where you can enjoy the exclusive 6 seater Jeep safaris or if you have a larger group the 20 seater Canter Safaris. I am not a fan at all of the Canter because it mars the safari experience.
Do book your safari 90 days in advance for zones of your choice , although last minute bookings are often available due to cancellations.
Ranthambore has 10 different zones for safari, and all are open for wildlife safari from 1 October to 30 June. In monsoons (July to September) the zones 6 to 10 are open for tourists for jungle safari.
A wildlife safari lasts approximately three to three and a half hours in each shift. The safari timings vary according to the season keeping in mind the convenience of visitors in Ranthambore.
One of the afternoons, we all decided to skip an afternoon safari and instead take a walk down the history lane and visited the Ranthambore Fort in the park.
Only part of the fort is open to the public now just about a quarter which offers a majestic view of the national park and the lakes. The Fort can also be accessed from the national park in a day long hike to the inaccessible portions – over an area of 7 kilometers in circumference and 4 square kilometers in the area
Our guide in the fort told us that the name Ranthambhore comes from the two hills, Rann and Thambor. The Ranthambhore fort is believed to have been built during the 8th century by the Chauhan Dynasty. Through the ages it has passed through the reigns of various Rajput Dynasties and then to the Mughals. Thus, the area surrounding the fort became the hunting grounds for the Maharajas of Jaipur till 1949 when the princely state became a part of the republic of India.
The gates are majestic, and the climb is uphill to the top of the Fort on the Thambor hill above 400 meters above sea level. There are three Hindu temples dedicated to Ganesha, Shiva and Ram estimated to be built in the 12th or 13th century AD and a Jain temple.
As we made our way in though the grand Darwazas, we saw how the fort had withstood the ravages of wars and time as is visible in the pavilions – Badal Mahal, Dullah Mahal, 32 Pillared halls and the court room along with the barracks and the step-well.
Ranthambore is a holiday for all – stories of yore , a fleeting glimpse of the leopard or a regal view of the Royal Bengal Tiger against the ruins and of course the majestic comfortable forest resorts.