Ranthambore National Park, one of the largest wildlife reserves in North India, was once a princely game conserve. In 1955, it was established as a wildlife sanctuary. Later in 1973, it was included in the first phase of Project Tiger.
Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary was awarded the national park status in 1980. Besides tigers, the national park serves as a natural habitat to various wild animals, such as, jackals, leopards, hyenas, marsh crocodiles, wild boars and different varieties of deer. In addition, there is an abundance of aquatic vegetation, such as, lilies, duckweeds and lotus in the park. This wildlife reserve sprawls over an area of 392 sq km.
Known for tiger conservation, it is one of the best national parks in the country. Tourists can use the roads to pass through the park, constructed and maintained by the forest authority. The forest authority has special arrangements in place for photography and videography.
The Ranthambore Fort is a mighty fort, built in 944 AD. It is situated on top of a hill, at a height of 700 ft above the surrounding plains. The fort lies between the Vindhya Plateau and the Aravalli Hills. It sprawls over a geographical area of about 7 km in circumference.
The fort houses various Hindu and Jain temples, along with a mosque. A large variety of residential and migratory birds can be seen here, due to the presence of several water bodies around the fort.
Tourists visiting the fort can also enjoy a splendid view of the Ranthambore National Park from here. This historical building was under the possession of the Mughals during 1528. In the 17th century, the Mughals gifted the fort to the Maharaja of Jaipur.
Surwal Lake, a beautiful seasonal lake, is situated at about 25 km away from Ranthambore. The lake is heaven for a variety of birds. Travellers are mesmerised and captivated by the beauty of this lake, especially, during the months from November to March.
During the winter season, this water body becomes a home to several migratory birds, such as, pelicans, demoiselle cranes, graylag geese and flamingos. This place offers nature lovers a beautiful view of chirping birds, a golden sunrise and a soothing sunset.
Padam Talao is the most breathtaking and the biggest lake inside the Ranthambore National Park. Jogi Mahal, an enchanting guest house, is situated near the banks of this lake. During the early morning and evening hours, travellers can see herds of wild animals at the Padam Talao. The talao is a significant attraction for wildlife photographers.
Badal Mahal, famously known as the 'palace of the clouds', is situated inside the Ranthambore Fort. It lies in the northern part of the fort. Though the mahal is in ruins now, it gives a glimpse of the grandeur of the fort.
The famous 84-column 'chhatri' of King Hammir stands out remarkably at this place, where he addressed his subjects.
The Jogi Mahal, an elegant guest house at the foothills of the Ranthambore, was built by the royal families of Jaipur. It served as their hunting lodge for many generations. This forest guest house provides all modern facilities to the visitors.
Visitors can enjoy the prominent and soothing view of the Padam Talao from the Jogi Mahal. Another interesting attraction of the Jogi Mahal is a gigantic banyan tree, the second largest banyan tree in India. Travellers, who are game for some adventure, can take a ride to Lahpurand, Nal Ghati and Bakaula Anantpur from here.
Malik Talao is one of the lakes present in the Ranthambore National Park. These water bodies are vital for the ecosystem of the park as they act as a source of food and water for birds and animals. The lake attracts a large bird population that includes plovers, moorhens, herons, storks, kingfishers, kites and hawks. Crocodiles can also be seen resting on the banks while, at times, tigers are seen too.
Kachida Valley is situated in the outskirts of the Ranthambore National Park. The valley treasures an array of flora and fauna. A majority of the panther population of the park is found here. Tourists can also witness sloth bears and deer in this part of the park. Travellers can hire Safari Jeeps to tour and enjoy the beauty of Kachida Valley.
Lakarda and Anantpura, located in the North-western and Northern regions of the Ranthambore National Park, are areas where sloth bears are found in large numbers due to availability of food sources, such as, honeycombs and fresh fruits. The climate of these places is also favourable for sloth bears. In addition, other animals such as monkeys, striped hyenas and porcupines are found here.
The Ranthambore School of Art at Sawai Madhopur was established with an aim to create awareness about the Project Tiger. The students in the school belong to the neighbouring towns and villages. The school displays and sells paintings of the Great Indian Tiger, painted by teachers and students of the school.
The school also organises various painting competitions and exhibitions to attract animal lovers to educate them about the importance of saving tigers. The efforts of the school have not gone unnoticed. It has been acknowledged, nationally and internationally, by numerous NGOs and animal protection bodies.