Rajasthan is well known for its forts, heritage properties, lakes, rich culture and its various national parks. Being a wildlife lover, visiting Ranthambore National Park was on top of my priority list. I travelled to Ranthambore in January. Ideally, it is one of the best months to travel, when the weather is pleasant and visibility is good.
Travel: Delhi is well connected with Ranthambore, through road and rail. There are multiple ways to travel to the city, but I opted for the train. I boarded Janshatabdi from Nizamuddin station, the journey was around five hours and pretty comfortable. We landed at Sawai Madhopur station late evening, I should commend the Rajasthan government for the cleanliness and maintenance of the station. Being a woman traveller, safety is extremely important for you. The station and the city are safe for women travellers. No one is going to unnecessarily harass you.
I opted to stay at the Om Rudrapriya Holiday Resort, which is at a twenty minutes distance from the station. Since I reached late night, so after a quick dinner, I decided to call it a day.
In the morning while sipping tea, Bhawar Singh, the general manager of the property joined me. He suggested that I should visit the Ranthambore Fort, he narrated an interesting story attached to the fort. Incidentally, the fort was considered unconquerable, till it was sieged by Akbar. The fort is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the head of “Hill Forts of Rajasthan”. I decided to follow his advice and visited the fort. The fort is located 5 km inside the park and is perched high on a hill of about 700 ft. I would recommend wearing flats or going for sports shoes while visiting the fort. The fort has 250 stairs; infested with the monkeys, so don’t carry any eatables. Also, people suffering from a knee problem, old people and kids should avoid the climb. Else, go for pitthus, though the charges are bit high, the view at the top makes it worth. A Rajput King from Chauhan Dynasty laid the fort first stone in 944 AD, but King Rao Hammir Deo Chauhan played a major role in the construction. On reaching the top, there is “Battis Khambha Chhatrri,” which was made in order to honour the king’s thirty-two-year rule.
Famous Trinetra Ganesh temple is located, half a kilometre from Battis Khamba Chattri. This temple has a statue of Lord Ganesha bearing three eyes, along with his two wives Riddhi and Siddhi and two sons Shubh and Labh. While moving towards the temple, it was heartening to see people offering water, free of cost to the travellers. The temple closes in the afternoon from 1 PM to 2 PM. Anyone who plans to visit the fort should have two and a half to three hours in hand.
A trip to Ranthambore would have been incomplete without a visit to Ranthambore National Park. So, next day we went for the safari. The park is divided into ten zones and chances of tiger sighting are very high in Zone 1 and 2. Apart from the tiger, one can also see herds of deer, leopard, hyena, wild boar, sambhar, cheetal, peacocks, etc. The deciduous forest turns dry in summers and winters, so the visibility is good and makes spotting easier. So anyone planning to travel to that side should go in November to February or April to June.
While going on safari, everyone wants to see the tiger but seeing him in real, is a different experience. Tiger blends so well with the vegetation, that at times it becomes difficult to locate him. Tiger sighting is heavily dependent on the naturalists, the zone you are visiting, time and luck. I was lucky to come across tiger during the safari. The moment I lay my eyes on him, I experienced a whirlpool of emotions. You suddenly feel humble and are in awe of nature, his regal walk, his piercing gaze (which made my heart skip a beat), humans vulnerability, all makes it an exciting cocktail. But it was a memorable experience, which I would cherish for a lifetime.
Stay – Ranthambore has many interesting stay options to stay. I opted for Om Rudrapriya Holiday Resort, the resort is compact, well landscaped, with neat and clean rooms. The rooms are big and airy, with comfortable bathrooms. One can see Rajasthani architecture in play in the resort. They have a restaurant, which provides decent food. I especially liked the hospitality; the higher management will go to any extent to make you feel comfortable. The price of a one-night stay is affordable. They also have a tourist shop within the premises, from where one can purchase souvenirs. And if you are planning a trip with a kid, then this is a good place, as they have a big lawn, where a kid can play a lot of outdoor games.
So, next time whenever you want to experience wildlife, heritage, hospitality, and history, plan your trip to the mighty Ranthambore.
Text and images by Ramya Mishra
Originally published on Gypsy on Exploration