Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and National Park in Rajasthan, India is among the best places to go in 2014 as per the no other than National Geographic. It has compiled a list of 20 places in the world, which ought not to be missed next year. The Best of the World list reflects what is authentic, culturally rich, sustainable and superlative in the world of travel. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan in India is one of the most celebrated tiger parks in world alongwith Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Ranthambore has been home to one of the most revered tigress ‘Machli’, a lead in one of the most well known wildlife fights between a tiger and a crocodile. Sighting a Royal Bengal Tiger in its territory is altogether a different experience. (Read: Tale of two tiger sightings)
Well known Tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar reccently said in an interview about Ranthambore- Tigers of Ranthambore rewrote their natural history for world to read, see and record. The first records of kin links among tigers were established here as were the first records of the male tiger in the role of father and looking after cubs. This has also been established by Kim Sullivan’s recording of the baby sitter in Bandhavgarh and, more recently, Balendu Singh’s record of the male tiger bringing up cubs after the tigress died. Earlier most believed that the male killed the cubs. Ranthambore also gave us the first pictures of tigers killing in water, fighting crocodiles, eating pythons & porcupines, of a bear attacking a tiger, of a secret life of mother and cubs in the first six months of the cubs’ existence… so on.
On its selection what National Geographic says about Ranthambore-
Eyeing the Tigers in Rajasthan
On the bumpy road to Ranthambore National Park, warden Balendu Singh says, “It takes some luck to see a tiger.”
Not long after, he stops on the verge of a dusty trail inside the 151-square-mile reserve. Ensconced in tall grass, a male tiger, T-25, lollygags on his back in the sun, as playful as a house cat. When two chubby cubs emerge, wrestling, rolling, the bigger cat bats them away. Singh lifts his camera, recording it all. As the first male tiger known to raise cubs orphaned by their mother, T-25 is making history.
Indeed, things have changed since this temple-laden, lake-mottled, brushy expanse of land in central India served as the royal hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. Back in the day, even Prince Philip shot a tiger here for sport. But since 1973, this wildlife-rich terrain has been a protected area and tiger reserve. Abundant with monkeys, leopards, wild boars, foxes, macaques, crocodiles, and birds, Ranthambore’s exotic landscape—punctuated by a crumbling, ancient fort—evokes scenes from a Rudyard Kipling tale. Here roam 24 glorious adult tigers, and the population continues to grow. “We’ve welcomed 26 cubs in the last two years,” says Singh, who blames deforestation and poaching for the decimation of India’s once plentiful tiger population. With conservation in mind, the park limits the number of visitors. Yes, one has to be lucky to glimpse a tiger, but Ranthambore makes its own luck. —Becca Hensley
When to Go: Ranthambore National Park is open to visitors October 1-June 30. Daily opening and closing times vary seasonally. Morning visits are best since animals typically are more active and visible.
How to Go: Ranthambore national park is well connected with all the major cities and station in India. The easiest way to reach Ranthambore is to take a train to Sawai Madhopur. This town is well connected with trains to/from Jaipur, Bombay and Delhi.
Nearby Airports – Jaipur and Kota
Distance by rail:
Delhi – 362 km, Agra – 227 km, Bombay 1027 km, Kota – 108 km, Jaipur – 132 km
Distance by road:
Delhi – 480 km (via Dausa), Jaipur – 180 km (via Tonk)
Meanwhile, the top 20 destinations for 2014 (in alphabetical order) selected by National Geographic are:
- Alentejo, Portugal
- Arbil, Iraq
- Bolaven Plateau, Laos
- Cacao Trail, Ecuador
- Cape Verde
- Cathar country, France
- Cordoba, Argentina
- Derawan Islands, Indonesia (readers’ choice)
- John Muir Trail, Scotland
- Nahanni National Park, Canada
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Northern Territory, Australia
- Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
- Puglia, Italy
- Ranthambore National Park, India
- Riga, Latvia
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Sochi, Russia
Don’t miss any of them.