Tiger Reserve – India

 

Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve

The only place you can see tigers in the wild is in India. They have been declared an endangered species and only about 1,200 Royal Bengal Tigers across 18 tiger reserves in India survive in the wild today. Deforestation, encroachment, poaching and over grazing have led to a decline in the tiger population. So before they disappear, do something different for your holiday travel and go on a tiger safari in India.

The Royal Bengal tigers are characterized by their reddish orange fur and black stripes and are found mainly in India and Bangladesh. White tigers are also Bengal tigers but their white fur with black stripes is a result of a faulty gene. It is extremely rare to see white tigers in the wild but you can often see them in zoos. White tiger cubs attract loads of visitors to zoos, which is why many zoos breed them. The Siberian tigers are larger than the Bengal tigers and are sometimes referred to as Snow tigers. They have a thicker coat in a pale gold hue with fewer stripes. The Sumatran tiger is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is the smallest of all tigers.

Ranthambhore National Park

It is located in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. It is about 12 kms from Sawai Madhopur town and about 165 kms from Jaipur, Rajasthan’s state capital.

Of all the tiger reserves in India, your best chance of seeing a tiger is in Ranthambhore. The Park’s tiger population is estimated at 32 but because the Park area is comparatively small and the forest is dry and deciduous, it is much easier to spot tigers here. That’s why the Park draws many wildlife photographers from around the world.  There are about 40 species of mammals, including leopards, sloth bears, gazelles and jackals in Ranthambhore. Over 320 species of birds and 300 species of plants are also found here.

The forest covers an area of 392 sq.kms. and stretches across hills, plateaus, gorges, lakes and rivers. Some lovely ancient ruins can be glimpsed within the national park. If you are lucky you may spot a tigress walking with her cubs across the ruins or the baby tigers cavorting in the meadows.

The Park is open from October 1 to June 31. Summers are hot and winters, chilly. It is easiest to spot tigers in the months of May and June when water is scarce and the tigers and other animals flock to the few remaining waterholes. Unfortunately the temperatures in May and June can be as high as 45 degree Centigrade during the day. Night temperatures are around 30 degree Centigrade.

Entry to the Park is restricted to only 40 forest department vehicles a day therefore it is advisable to book safaris well in advance through the hotel or resort you plan to stay in.

Ranthambhore Fort

This 10th century fort sits atop a hill and affords superb views of the forest and the Padam Talao lake. Next to the lake is the Jogi Mahal palace. The fort covers an area of roughly 4sq.kms. and you will find some wonderful temples, small palaces and cenotaphs within its premises.
You will see loads of monkeys as you climb the steps to reach the fort which is at a height of 700 feet. The eastern side of the fort is a great place from where to watch birds and occasionally even leopards.
The fort is located within the National Park and the entry to the Park will take you through its Misradhara gate.

Places to stay

Most resorts and hotels are situated quite close to the Ranthambhore national Park. The Oberoi Vanyavilas is consistently rated among the top 10 hotels and resorts in the world by readers of travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. But naturally it comes with a hefty tariff which few can afford.

A more reasonable and charming place to stay during your holiday travel is the Ranthambhore Bagh. It has 12 comfortable and clean tents plus 10 twin rooms in the main building. The breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are sumptuous and delicious plus the tariff is a fraction of its neighbour, The Oberoi Vanyavilas.
But the main reason you should choose Ranthambhore Bagh is to meet the owners, Poonam and Aditya Singh, who go out of their way to make their guests’ stay comfortable. Some well-known wildlife photographers choose to live here instead of more luxurious resorts is because of Poonam and Aditya’s warm hospitality. Aditya is a wildlife enthusiast and avid photographer with a wealth of knowledge about the flora and fauna in the region. Poonam trains and employs local villagers and supports various charities and welfare causes. Many visitors, most of them wildlife buffs, visit Ranthambhore Bagh once or twice a year partly to meet Poonam and Aditya.

Posted by on November 8th, 2009

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