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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Wrenn-Haye

Ranthambhore Rajasthan India - Discover the beauty, one step at a time

Updated: Apr 1


Welcome to our blog post header for our blog about Ranthambhore Rajasthan India

"The beauty of Ranthambore is not just in its wildlife, but in its people and culture too".

Overview


Ranthambhore is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of south eastern Rajasthan, approximately 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan and sits less than 14km (8 1/2 miles) from the Sawai Madhopur railway station which connects to Jaipur, Agra, Bharatpur, Mumbai, Vadodara and Delhi, so Ranthambore is easily accessible.


Ranthambhore is acclaimed for its natural beauty and is home to the Bengal Tigers who roam in the Ranthambhore National Park Tiger Reserve which is one of the largest in India. There were 25 tigers in 2005 and as of today there are approximately 69 tigers roaming freely in their natural habitat. 


Ranthambhore is also known worldwide for its commendable hospitality and there is no scarcity of pleasurable delights to enjoy when visiting Ranthambore. You will find plenty to do here; there is beautiful wildlife in the National park, wild ancient places to visit including the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage fort, camel rides, jeep safaris, a museum, jungle safaris, festivals, temples and much more to experience. So do add Ranthambhore to your must see list in India.


The people of Ranthambhore on the whole are very friendly and are faithfully religious.  There are different castes and tribes and most you will find as artisans.  General languages spoken in Ranthambhore are Marwari, Rajasthani, Hindi and English.


India lady in traditional dress
Indian Lady in Ranthambhore

A two night stay in Ranthambhore is recommended whether you wish to participate in a Tiger safari or visit many of the other wonderful sights. If undertaking a safari, you will be able to participate in morning and afternoon drives into the national park which makes for good chances of Tiger sightings, although you have to realise that these are not guaranteed. 


It is worth noting that Tiger sightings increase by up to 20% in the summer months (April to June), when the water reservoirs are less and the Tigers roam to access water and the grass also drives which subsequently provides more visibility for visitors.


Ranthambhore National Park


The park itself covers an area of 392 square kilometres (151 square miles) and is home to over 40 species of mammals such as the Bengal Tigers, Spotted Deer, Antelope, Water Buffalo, Blue Bull (large antelope), Monkeys and Leopards to name but a few, plus in excess of 320 species birds, 40 species of reptiles, 50 species of butterflies and over 300 species of different plants.  It is a wildlife enthusiast's dream place to visit.



The national park was originally established as the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1955 and the park at that time covers 283 square kilometres (109 square miles).  It was formerly asserted as one of the Project Tiger Reserves and became a national park as a result of this in 1980.


Where to Stay


There are obviously plenty of places to stay in Ranthambhore and the neighbouring Sawai Madhopur area; generally there are three categories of accommodation, deluxe, luxury and budget resorts with something to suit everyone.  


We selected to stay at a resort called ‘Khem Villas’ a very special place that sits on the outskirts of Ranthambhore National Park. We had travelled 305 kilemetre (5 1/2 hrs) from Agra and our 'Taj Mahal' visit to reach Ranthambhore for our 'Bengal Tiger Safari Experience' which we chose to add to our month long itinerary of India


‘Khem Villas’ is a luxury eco jungle camp which consists of rooms, cottages, villas and luxury tents surrounded by thirty acres of land that borders the National Park itself.



We stayed in a deluxe tent, no. 21 which was a great experience as we have never stayed in a tent ‘glamping’ style before; it was very comfortable and warm with a heater and the best bed ever.  It was also ideally situated within the camp for access to all the amenities. 


There was an outdoor plunge pool for the hotter months, an outdoor bar and a wonderful central fire pit area where guests congregated after the safari drives to warm up and meet to tell stories of their sightings, or discuss their day in general.  A real social gathering place which is nice.



The lounge and bar in the main building is delightful and is a lovely place to relax for a drink before or after dinner, although most people retire to bed early as the mornings for the game drives are a very early start at around 5 a.m.



When we stayed at ‘Khem Villas’ in January this year, they organised lovely roaring wood burner fires in the bar and lounge to keep everyone warm, as well as hot water bottles for our beds; they even provide a turn down service which is a welcomed touch too at that time of year when it's colder.



All of the staff are super friendly and can’t do enough for you and their restaurant is superb, serving strictly freshly prepared vegetarian meals all of which are out of this world, with the menu choices changing daily. They even have an outdoor Tandoor oven for the fresh breads.



The other lovely touch was the on-site spa for treatments, including massage which was certainly well received by us after the drives in the jeeps over what can sometimes be bumpy terrain. There is also an on-site shop selling stunning fabrics, clothing, unique souvenirs as well as hand-painted and charcoal canvas pictures of Tigers, which we invested in to bring home as a memento of our time in Ranthambore.


One point to note, is that the hotel itself does not organise drives into the national park, so you will need to look at arranging this ahead of time.  The camp however does have a knowledgeable naturalist on site who can take you for a 2 1/2 hour walk around the grounds and educate you about the property’s flora and fauna, as well as point out various wildlife including fruit bats and crocodiles.  For park drives, you can book through the national park's official website.


Things to Do in Ranthambhore


Safari:

The majority of people who visit Ranthambore wish to enter the national park for affording unparalleled opportunities to photograph tigers in their natural habitat. However ,as most things that concern nature, it is not a foregone conclusion that you will be fortunate enough to see Tigers on the day.


We were driven to meet our Government guides and our allocated jeep early in the morning at around 5.30 a.m and along the way we stopped and collected other tourists visiting the national park that day too.  The jeeps are quite small and tightly compact holding up to six people, so you may wish to organise a separate jeep for a more personal experience, or alternatively you may prefer to be in a larger cantor; whichever the case you need to ensure you state this upon booking.


Vanessa & Richard of Escape With Us in Ranthambhore National Park Tiger Reserve Rajasthan India

The weather was down to about 5°C in January and was really cold, so we recommend wearing layers and taking a warm coat, gloves, scarf and a pair of gloves with you when visiting at this time of year.  The afternoon was much warmer and in fact we were able to take our jackets off as the sun was out. We suggest that you strictly adhere to the suggested neutral clothing colours, such as greens, browns and muted colours that reflect the natural habitat surroundings of the Tiger and you must not wear colours such as red and white which can be seen by the Tigers from afar.


The Tiger reserve is broken down into 10 safari zones and they are all not open at once, therefore each day the Government dictates which zones tourists are able to visit.  You don't actually get a say in the matter, which is a shame as we understand that zones 3 and 4 are the most likely zones for Tiger spotting. 


We were allocated zone 10 in the morning and zone 6 in the afternoon and unfortunately we were not lucky enough on our two drives to see any Tigers at all, although we did have the wonderful pleasure of seeing plenty of other wildlife from birds to deer, water buffalo and antelope and finally a leopard from a distance. We still really enjoyed our experience.

"Wildlife is the perfect gift for those who appreciate the beauty of nature."


Upon our return to camp, we heard that other guests had seen the Tigers in the popular zones 3 and 4 that we mentioned earlier, but we were out of luck that particular day as we had been allocated to different zones; we must admit we did feel a little sad at no Tiger sightings.


Luckily however, ‘Khem Villas’ work on a number of conservation matters relating to the Tigers and we were invited to an in-house presentation that evening before dinner, about the National Park and the Tigers.  We observed many photos and learned all about their conservation work as well as listened to the story of the legendary Tigress of Ranthambhore, whose name was Machali. She was known as the ‘Queen of Ranthambhore’ and she lived to the age of 19, which is much longer than the average age of 15 years. 


During her reign, in defending her territory she managed to kill a fourteen foot crocodile, raised her cubs and fort off other larger male tigers despite having lost her teeth and only had the use of one eye.


Many people believe that Machali was the most photographed Tiger in the world with her images appearing in newspapers, calendars, magazines etc.  This is because she became friendly and was not frightened of humans nor the camera and just loved laying around in broad daylight waiting to be photographed.  Machali even used to visit the ‘Khem Villas’ grounds so they had a very special connection with her.


Machali The Queen of Ranthambore Tigress lived until she was 19 yrs old and was most photographed Tiger ever. India
'Machali'

When she eventually passed away and was finally discovered, she was given a proper Hindu funeral whereby she was completely wrapped in white linen with flower garlands.


The very following day after we left Ranthambhore for our next stop Jaipur, our wonderful guide Hemendra sent us some video footage and photos of Tigers and their cubs in the Rathambhore National Park that day which was a fantastic keepsake for us.


'Hemendra - Our Guide'

We were just unlucky seeing them in the flesh, but that said, it is fantastic seeing the footage and photos that Hemendra has sent us which we have shared with you below, there is even a photo with Tigers mating which is incredible and we were thrilled to know that we were personally there in the Tigers natural habitat.  Such beautiful animals.



"Ranthambore: where the tiger reigns supreme."


We would still recommend that if you want to see Tigers and other wildlife then this is a great place in which to do so, don't be put off by our lack of sightings of the Tiger. The whole experience is definitely worthwhile.


Ranthambhore Fort:

The fort sits in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan and 480 metres (1578 feet) above sea level on a remote hilltop called "Thambhore" overlooking the Tiger Reserve National Park and the views are breathtaking and awesome. Around the fort are a variety of flora and fauna, picnic spots and lots of history to explore too.



It is high on the the list of must see attractions in Ranthambhore, but you have to bear in mind that there are a lot of steep steps to get up to the fort itself, so it may not be accessible for everyone.


Originally founded in 944 AD, it was taken over by the Chauhan rulers who made it their capital.  Its original name was “Ranath Bhawar Garh”, which translates to “place of the Rajput warriors” and the surrounding park was the former hunting ground of the Maharajahs of Jaipur until the time of India’s independence.



Ranthambhore Fort is generally denoted by its massive 'Z' shape entry gates, huge walls, tanks and temples.  There are actually three Hindu temples inside the fort, Ganesha, Shiva and Ramlalaji which were constructed from red Karauli stone in the 12th and 13th centuries.  In addition to these there are also two Jain temples of Lord Sumatinath and Lord Sambhavanah.


Most of the fort is now ruins with hardly any signage, but we had a professional guide, Hemendra, who furnished us with lots of details about the history of the fort. 


Richard & Vanessa from Escape With Us Blogs & Vlogs with guide Hamendra at Ranthambhore Fort Rajasthan India
'Richard, Vanessa & Hamendra'

One of the first things you see after passing through the large gates is a large thirty-two pillar cenotaph called 'Battis Khambha Chhatri,' which is an ancient medieval stone structure built as a memorial for the King after 32 years of reign.  Opposite this there is another cenotaph, but this was never fully completed.


We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Ranthambhore fort and would highly recommend a visit. Definitely get yourself a guide though to talk you through the history.


Lakes:

There are a couple of lakes that are certainly worth seeing in Ranthambhore.


The first is Sewal Lake set in picturesque surroundings which is a haven of tranquility with different species of birds, particularly during the winter months; so if you are a keen ornathologist then this is the place for you to capture beautiful photography shots.


Lake View from Ranthambhore Fort Rajasthan India

The second lake is Padam Lake which is the largest of the lakes in the Ranthambhore Wildlife Reserve.  This is a stunning lake and it is actually the main source of water for all the animals in the reserve.  On the edge of the Padam Lake is a very large Banyan tree that sits close to Jogi Mahal which was used as a resthouse, this too is worth a visit.


Temples:

One of the oldest temples in Ranthambhore is the Trinetra Ganesh Temple which is located in the Ranthambhore fort.  It is a moving place for Ganesha’s devotees and is an active temple with people coming every day from every corner of the country to seek blessing from God for their happiness and prosperity. 


There are even pilgrimages to this temple as well. The temple was built in 1300 AD by King Hammir Dev Chauhan.



Arts and Crafts:

As mentioned many of the people are artisans and arts and crafts are a big thing in Ranthambhore which reflects the Rathambhore culture and tradition.  You can expect to see on sale in the local markets, hand paintings, puppets, silver jewellery, batik prints, wollen tribal rugs, fine silk and general mementos, plus much more.


One particular place if you are interested in art and crafts, is Dastkar Ranthambhore which is in the Sawai Madhopur area and it is a non-profit organisation established in 1981 working to support local crafts men and women and it is a sightseeing place that you should add to your agenda.


Another place is called the Village Women Craft; this village located on the Gas Plant Road has passionate, vibrant women who have strong integration towards colours and love their crafts and hand-made products.  You will be able to purchase items at an affordable price here to take home with you as a keep sake of your time in Ranthambhore.


Other Activities:

There is so much to do in Ranthambhore, we have by no means listed everything here so do your research so that you can ultimately plan your itinerary for your short stay, as you would not want to miss out seeing this wonderful district.


Other activities also include jungle safari, bird watching, hot air ballooning, river rides, camel rides, a visit to the Ranthambhore museum, plus much more.


Festivals:

The people from Ranthambhore are very cultural and you will find them celebrating many festivals throughout the year.  Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the biggest celebrations and it is enjoyed with great with gusto..  Other festivals on the calendar include Diwali, Shirdi Vijaydashmi, guru Purnima and Saraswati Puja.  


We happened to pass a religious gathering on our way to the Safari drive in the afternoon and there were lots of ladies carrying bowls of fruit and coconuts as offerings and the main road was full of chanting and music.


Religious festival taking place in Ranthambhore district Rajasthan India
'A Religious Festival'
Weather:

Depending on what you are visiting Ranthambhore for, may dictate the best time is to visit.  Ideally the best months are the winter months from October through to March when temperatures range from 10°C to 30°C (50°F to 86°F), but you can expect the mornings and evenings to be chilly so remember to pack warm clothing including jackets and a jumper.  As we mentioned when we visited in January, we found the morning drives to see the Tigers extremely cold and we wore plenty of layers and hats and gloves too.


If it is the Tigers you are going to Ranthambhore for, then note that the Tiger Reserve is not open all year round; it opens on 1st October and closes on 30th June, however you can visit the buffer zones of 6-10 to enjoy the wildlife at the Tiger Reserve for the rest of the months.


Our Conclusion

"A journey to Ranthambore is an opportunity to explore and discover the beauty of our planet."

We had a thoroughly wonderful time in Ranthambhore; where you stay in relation to the National Park is of significance if you are expecting to participate in the Tiger safari. There are so many lovely properties around to choose from and many are camp style as with 'Khem Villas', so make sure you do your homework and select somewhere with character and charm and not too far from the National Park itself.


Ranthambhore in Rajasthan is a unqiue place and one of natural beauty not to be missed in our opinion, it is easily reached from the major cities so treat yoursef and book a short stay here and absorb what the area has to offer.


We hope that this blog has given you an insight into Ranthambhore Rajasthan India and given you some inspiration for your travels. Should you wish to get in touch with us, then please click on the image below which takes you directly to our 'Contact Us' form.



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Mar 21
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great descriptions and insight into planning my own trip !

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