I had always wanted to visit Ranthambhor National park, but had never got around to do it. Ranthambhor is situated in Rajasthan, about 10 kms from a town called Sawai Madhopur. RNP is about 685 kms away from my home, here at Ahmedabad and the choices were to either drive down or take a train, since flight connections were not convenient. ( The nearest airport is Jaipur, about 200 kms from the park) June is hot and humid and driving down in the heat would be challenging.
Accordingly, my friend and i booked train tickets departing Ahmedabad at 2130 hrs and reaching Sawai Madhopur at 0830 hrs the next morning. Perfect!
We reached on time and there was a car to take us to our hotel, where we checked in, freshened up and had breakfast. Safari was at 1530 hrs and the sun was blazing away, with the mercury rising up till 45oC ( 113o F). The hotel is a comparatively new structure, made on the lines of the old fort/palaces, but with concrete, cement and bricks (and possibly stone) and not stone and limestone as was used in the olden times. The structure gets heated up and heat pretty much radiates all over the place. There is no greenery inside the walls and this possibly accentuated the heat. We did not dare come out of our air conditioned rooms, just braving the heat to go to the dining area for a spot of lunch.
Promptly, at 1530 hrs, we set off for the forest in the blazing sun, with a thin safari cloth hat protecting me from the elements. The hot wind blew at our faces and now we understood why the locals covered their faces with a scarf. It was pretty grim, but the excitement of visiting the jungle overpowered our discomfort. Ranthambhor has 10 zones and the most visited (with better chances of sighting) are from 1 to 4. We were at zone 3 today.
One of the advantages of visiting the park during June is that there are comparatively lesser tourists. The Indian families keep away due to schools having reopened as well as the excessive heat and the overseas visitors also find the weather extremely inconvenient. The main advantage is that sightings are quite frequent since the tigers prefer to stay near the water bodies.
There are quite a few natural water bodies and some artificial ones, maintained by the forest department. Most of the natural water bodies have crocodiles and it was quite surprising to see some of them in a tiny water body which could dry up possibly in a week. When i mentioned this to our guide, he opined that the crocodiles have been known to move away to a different water body over night.
The park takes its name from Ranthambhor fort, said to have been built by Maharaja Jayantha during the fifth century AD. It is a beautiful fort and in good repair even after a millennium and a half. There is a Ganesh temple within the fort and many devotees walk from the nearby villages and visit the temple. Festival days are pretty crowded, i am told. (More about this later)
We moved into the park and came upon this lovely specimen. Oriental honey buzzard, probably and a juvenile. Could some one confirm this please?
The rest in the gypsy were not happy stopping for this and were eager to proceed to scout out tigers. I had wanted to get a "taking off" shot of this bird, but in the humdrum could not do so . We proceeded ahead and turned the corner and came upon this magnificent sight:
to be continued....
Edited by Earthian, 15 June 2016 - 04:55 PM.