Ranthambore is located near the town of Sawai Madhopur, which is around 180 km or five hours’ drive south east of Jaipur in Rajasthan. The park derives its name from the 11th century fort of Ranthambore, which sits on a rocky outcrop in the forest. The fort was a vital citadel for the control of central India. Though overrun by vegetation, remnants of the summer palaces, temples and guard stones within the fort still remain. Earlier the hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur, the park at Ranthambore was once the scene of royal hunting parties. Today, it is famous for its tigers and being one of the most accessible parks on the tourist trail. It is very popular and therefore runs with strict rules and regulations, with a route system in place that can make the viewing experience a rigid affair, similar to Bandhavgarh.
Ranthambore is now home to approximately 58 tigers, which according to experts is the maximum carrying capacity for the park. This has been an exceptional turn around since 2005 when only eleven individuals were left. Today excellent sightings have been happening in many zones, with mothers and cubs, including those outside the original lakes and fort zones in the Mansingh Sanctuary area - a tribute to the Park authorities. Some tigers have been transferred to Sariska National Park so that they may not stray out of the protected forest area. The government is also relocating villages from the park boundaries (away from tourism zones) so that more space can be freed for wild animals. The park booking system continues to be open season for abuse and intrigue, and you should be warned there are rare occasions when a 20-seater bus may be allocated to your booking.
Although the tiger is the main attraction for most jungle safaris, the Park offers a wide range of wildlife such as deer, bears, boar, and numerous birds, both resident and migratory. A visit to the fort is an essential part of your trip and village visits and shopping trips to Donk and other community-run retailers are a must as well.
Ranthambore is a six hour drive from Jaipur or a short train journey from Bharatpur, near Agra. Ranthambore combines well with a tour of Rajasthan.
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