Ranthambhore

 

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Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan

If there is a park that can almost guarantee tiger sightings, it must be Ranthambhor, its landscape dominated by the Vindhyan hill range with its steep escarpments. The ancient sedimentary limestone and sandstone rocks, perennial lakes, and dry deciduous vegetation are part of its indicative topography. Ranthambhor's great fort, in the background, is a royal presence, but abandoned for centuries, the only majesty here is the tiger's presence. Once a hunting preserve for the maharajas of Jaipur, and now a Project Tiger reserve, the park has also shown that tigers can live and breed in close proximity to human settlements.

But the tiger isn't the only predator at Ranthambhor, though it may be its most famous one. Leopards live in the higher vegetation, while the lakes are infested with marsh crocodiles on whom the tigers sometimes prey. There are also caracals, jungle cats, jackals, hyenas and sloth bears. Among foraging animals are deer (sambhar, chital, nilgai, chinkara), wild boar, and of course also species such as hare, mongoose, and monitor lizard.

In the attention one pays to the tiger, it is easy to get distracted from the birdlife attracted to the park because of its aquatic habitat. The landscape, with its lakes, vegetation the second-largest banyan tree in the country ( in which langurs have taken up residence), the occasional palace or building, make it one of the most picturesque parks in the country.

BASE: SAWAI MADHOPUR which is a rail terminal, serves as the vital link to Ranthambhor, and offers accommodation for visitors. The park is closed in the peak summer and monsoon months.

 
 
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