Ranthambore National Park, located in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, is one of India's most renowned national parks and a fantastic getaway for any wildlife and nature enthusiast. Famous for its large population of tigers, you can spot the striped beasts strolling around the park or basking under the sun while on your Ranthambore safari.
The Park is surrounded by the hill ranges of Vindhyas and Aravallis and bordered by the Banas River to the north and the Chambal River to the south. Named after the historic fortress, Ranthambore, whose ruins can be found inside, the national park was once the hunting grounds of the Jaipur Royals.
Initially, in 1955, the national park was set up as Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary by the Government of India. It was established as a tiger reserve in 1973 and then in 1980, Ranthambore was declared as a national park. The adjoining forests were set up as the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary in 1984 and less than a decade later in 1992, they were merged with the tiger reserve, making Ranthambore National Park one of India's largest.
Sprawling over an impressive area of 1334 sq km, the terrain of the park is interspersed with dry deciduous forests and open grasslands. It contains steep hills, narrow valleys, beautiful streams and many lakes, including the Padam Talao, one of the largest lakes in the park.
Jungle safari in the best way to explore the interiors of the dense jungles and catch sight of all wildlife species that call the park their home, especially the Royal Bengal tiger. Jeep safari and Canter Safari are your two options to explore the Ranthambore National park.
You'll enjoy your safari in a 6-seater Gypsy that is open on all sides. It offers a wonderful viewing experience, mainly for those with interests in wildlife photography, bird watching, landscape photography, etc. Jeep safari is perfect for a small group and being smaller in size than a Canter, it can take you deeper into the forest, increasing your chances for sighting a tiger.
Canter Safari provides an economical way of exploring Ranthambore forests. It is a 20-seater bus that is also open on all sides for the best viewing experience. Canter is perfect for a large group.
Buffer zones in Ranthambore National Park
The national park has a total of 10 safari zones that offer an exclusive experience to all. Both canters and jeeps will take you into all the zones, to the heart of the park to enjoy the wilderness.
What you’ll see
The national park of Ranthambore houses varied species of flora and fauna that attracts tourists from all over the world. Along with being famed for being a natural habitat for Royal Bengal tigers, the park is also home to over 40 species of mammals, 35 species of reptiles and 320 species of birds.
Some common wildlife that lives in the park are:
Mammals: Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Chital, Nilgai, Hanuman langurs, Jackals, Jungle cats, Sloth bears, Blackbucks, Indian Wild Boar, Chinkara, Indian Flying Foxes and more.
Reptiles: Snub-Nosed Marsh Crocodiles, Desert Monitor Lizards, Tortoise, Indian softshell turtle, Indian flap shell turtle, Cobras, Banded Kraits, Common Kraits, Indian Pythons, Rat Snakes, Russel’s Vipers, Saw-scaled Vipers, Indian Chamaeleon and more.
Birds: Peacocks, the Great Indian Owl, Woodpeckers, Partridge, Parakeets, Spoonbill, Common Kingfisher, Indian Gray Hornbill, Cuckoos, Pigeons, Doves, Gulls, Eagles, Egrets, Flamingos, Ibis, Pelicans, Storks, Crows, Orioles, Sparrows, Bulbul, Mynas, Falcons and more.
Ranthambore tiger reserve is home to more than 300 species of flowering plants. The dominant plant found here is the 'Dhok tree' along with other plant species like mango, Imli, Babul, Khajur, Neem, Pipal, Jamun, Kadam, Babul and many more. You can also find Dhak trees, the flowers of which, when in bloom are so beautiful, they are called the ‘Flame of the Forest. Ranthambore is also famous for one of the largest banyan trees in India at Jogi Mahal.
When to go
Summer season, from April to June is the best time for a jungle safari in Ranthambore. The probability of spotting a tiger is highest during this season. They usually venture out to water holes and lakes to quench their thirst and hunt prey.
The winter season, from October to March is also a great time for jungle safari. The atmosphere is pleasant and you'll catch sight of various animals enjoying the winter sun.
During the monsoon season, from July to September, the park remains shut. This is the mating season for tigers and other animals in the park.
How to get there
Being one of India's finest national parks, Ranthambore enjoys good connectivity to all major Indian cities.
By air: Jaipur International Airport is the closest airport to the park, situated around 160 km away. From the airport, you can easily avail taxi services or hire private cars to reach the park.
By rail: Sawai Madhopur Railway Station, situated around 14 km away from the park is the closest railway station. Jaipur Railway Station is located around 200 km away from the national park.
By road: A good network of national and state highways ensure that Ranthambore National Park is well connected to all major cities in India. Delhi and Ranthambore are connected via NH 11A and NH8, and Udaipur and Allahabad are connected via NH 76. Ranthambore and Jaipur are connected via SH 24, and Agra and Bharatpur are connected to the park via SH 1.