Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve - In an antique land!!

Of days gone by...this January during my solo all India motorcycle journey…

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve lies at the junction of the Aravallis and the Vindhyas in the South Eastern quarter of Rajasthan. Once the hunting grounds of the maharajas of Jaipur, and later the British, the Ranthambore National Park is spread over an expanse of 1, 174 sq km. The bird watching opportunities here, especially around the lakes are legendary. One can see large herds of herbivores, spotted deer, sambar deer and nilgai (blue bull), and also find feline pug marks in the sand around dilapidated chhatris.

I reached Sawai Madhopur after a rackety ride from Sheopur. After checking myself in at a hotel near the Sawai Madhopur railway station, I made my way to the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) to get my jungle safari bookings done. I got 2 bookings done for different days. One on a canter (a 24 seater truck) and a gypsy. Each of these vehicles took me to different parts of the forest and both trips were fabulous.

As soon as one enters the premises of the Ranthambore National Park, the desert look changes into lush green cover. One can even spot prey and predator alike in this short ride from the forest entrance to the main ticket counter. While all vehicles stopped at the ticket counter, everyone were busy enjoying the ruckus that the common langaurs were causing. Often tourists throw titbits around and this seems to excite the langaurs to a frenzy. Also, a great place to hear the chatter of parakeets (plum-headed and rose-ringed).

As I made my way into the jungle, I was awe-struck by the primal beauty that it offered, the pristine lakes, the vast landscape of dry and dense covered vegetation, its denizens and the ruins that surrounded all this. I was able to sight Nilgai (blue bull), Common Langaurs, Spotted deer (Chital), Sambar Deer, Rufus Tree Pie, Black Stork, Brahminy Shelducks, Crocodiles (muggers), White-breasted kingfisher, painted stork, white-breasted water hen, water snake, red vented bulbul, oriental magpie robin, Indian pond heron, crested serpent eagle (female) and Indian hare.  I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t sight a tiger during either of my jungle safaris, but the overall jungle and wildlife experience was so rich that I could hardly form a crease of frown on my forehead. The Rajbag and the other lakes along with the ruins just accentuate the charm.

Apart from the jungle safari, I also immersed myself in a bit of trekking and climbed up to the Ranthambore fort. This ancient citadel is situated almost exactly at the meeting point of the Vindhya and the Aravalli hill ranges. The fort, after which the national park is named, is thought to have been built in 944 AD and is considered one of the strongest forts in the country. It was occupied by Raja Hamir for many years until the siege by Allaudin Khilji’s army in 1301 AD forced the Rajput king to surrender.

There is a Ganesha temple inside this fort that is still functional and locals come to offer their prayers. The view of the park and its three lakes from the top is very pretty. Another famous tourist spot is the Jogi Mahal, which is located at the foot of the fort and is home to the country’s second largest banyan tree.

Overall, Ranthambore National Park is pure magic. It is full of romance and intrigue.

To see India through the eyes of a motorcyclist's lens, visit the album below.

my solo all-india motorcycle journey

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