Ranthambhore National Park
Nestling at the foot of the Aravalli Hills 10km from the town of Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambhore National Park is one of the prime examples of Project Tiger's conservation efforts. Though Sawai Madhopur is an important town with its own historicity, but it is Ranthambhore, which is known the world over. Ranthambhore blends history of Rajput valour with scenic natural beauty and is an ideal getaway for an adventurous holiday.
Ranthambhore has been a witness to the rise and fall of many rulers and a series of battle scenes. In the 13th century AD Govind, the grandson of Prithviraj Chauhan took over the reign of the land. Later his successor Vagabhatta, beautified the city and built a noteworthy temple at Jhain. In the middle of the 15th century AD Rana Kumbha captured the fort and gifted it to his son to be occupied later by the Had Chauhan Rajputs of Bundi and Mughal Emperors Akbar and Aurangzeb. Mughal Emperor Shah Alam gifted it to Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur in 1754 and since then it was maintained as the hunting preserve of the Maharaja. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were part of the royal hunting camp who stayed here.
The National Park was one of the first few areas to come under Project Tiger and has continued to be the most successful. Sprawling over an area of 1334 sq. km, the park with its system of lakes and rivers is hemmed in by steep high crags and on top of one of these stands the majestic fort. The park area alternates between bushland and fairly dense forest and is peppered with ruined pavilions, chhatris (cenotaphs) and 'hides'. It's the ideal place to spot the tiger. The majestic predators, assured of protection, roam freely during the day time and can be seen at close quarters. Other wildlife to be seen include sambar, chital, nilgai (blue bull), chinkara, langur, wild boar, sloth bear, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, pythons and leopards. Crocodiles abound in the lakes. The lakes also attract a large number of migratory and local birds. The best time to visit is between October and April. The park is closed during the monsoon from July to September.