Ranthambore National ParkRanthambore National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in India. It was conferred the status of a National Park in the year 1957 and came under the ambit of "Project-Tiger" in the year 1974. The park is strategically located in the midst of the imposing Aravalli and Vindhya mountain ranges covering an area of 400 sq. kms.
Of all the National Parks of India, Ranthambore is one of the most picturesque with the backdrop of an invincible fort located on a hilltop while the park is spread in the foothills. The foliage is primarily of the dry deciduous kind interspersed with shimmering wetland areas which offer the resident wildlife species of the park with welcome relief especially during the sweltering summer months when the temperature hovers around 40° celsius.
Ranthambore came into prominence because of its burgeoning tiger population and in the mid 80's the tiger count stood at a healthy 40 plus which unfortunately is not the case anymore due to a number of reasons and poaching is one of them.
One distinct advantage that tourists enjoy when they decide upon a safari holiday at Ranthambore is that the chances of sighting tigers at Ranthambore is very high in comparison to other National Parks because the quintessential Ranthambore tiger doesn't fear human beings which is not the case with tigers elsewhere.
Apart from tigers - Ranthambore National Park is home to a bewildering variety of animal species like Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar, Chinkara, Black Bucks, Macaques, Langurs, Squirrels, Rufoustailed Hare, Small Indian Civets, Wild Cats to name just a few of the resident species that have made Ranthambore their home. The reptile species is no less varied with Indian Chameleon, Indian Python, King Cobra, Desert Monitor Lizard, Vipers to name just a few.
Apart from game viewing, Ranthambore with its plethora of reservoirs and wetland areas offers excellent breeding ground for a large variety of avian species. In fact both resident and migratory birds are known to flock in Ranthambore's wetlands and according to the latest bird count of WWF, a staggering 272 species of birds have been identified.
As far as water bodies are concerned, Ranthambore has three principal lakes - Padam, Rajbag and Malik Talao of which the Rajbagh Talao is the most scenic. The charm of Malik Talao is largely due to the ruins along its boundaries.
A bit of record and you have India's third largest banyan tree inside the park premises. It is indeed gigantic and wow! there are monkeys galore. So you better be aware.
Ranthambore is not only about wildlife. There is a fair bit of history and legend too that somehow makes a heady cocktail of a safari viz-a-viz the impregnable Chauhan Fort which is strategically located at a height of 215 meter. One has to climb a flight of stairs to reach the fort.
This magnificent fort has seen the rise and fall of many dynasties. Some of the erstwhile rulers who had the opportunity to seize this invincible fort are Aurangzeb, Vir Hamir, Allaudin Khilji and Akbar.
One has to enter the fort through a big door (darwaja). It is really big. Even though the fort is now wrecked and derelict, the towers and domes along with the exquisite Rani Mahal which is inside the fort all evokes with the grandeur of a rich past.