Ranthambhore National Park
Situated at the junction of the Aravalli and the Vindhya ranges. Ranthambore is one of India's conservation success stories. Since becoming one of the original 11 areas under Project Tiger in 1973, the park has recovered much f its previous natural glory, proving that, with careful management, a once wooded area which has been reduced to arid scrub can be restored.
In 1973, the then sanctuary of 60 square miles (156 square km) was expanded to 158 square miles (411 square km) with a core area of 65 square miles (169 square km) and later became a national park. In 1984 and adjoining area of 40 square miles (104 square km) to the south became the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary (named after the last ruling Maharaja of Jaipur.
The blend between nature and history is strong in this park, and like Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh the fort, the temples the tanks and other relies are a constant reminder of man's involvement in the area. The fort commanded a large area and up to the late - 13th century was the center of a Hindu Kingdom. During the 18th century, the area was protected as a hunting area for and by the Maharaja of Jaipur and It is thanks to an extension on this protection that the park exists today.
The fort is the natural focal point of the park with a series of well - established artificial lakes stretching to the north.
Most of the area is covered by typical dry, mixed deciduous forest. The undulating hills have a few bare rock faces and barren ridges. The area supports a mixed range of birds, mammals and insects. On the gentler hillsides and in the valleys, dhok is the main tree. The few areas of luch vegetation are around the lakes and have peepul, mango, palas and banyan, creating a thick forest. The huge banyan near Jogi Mahal at the base of the fort is reputedly the second largest known.
The major predator here is the tiger but leopard territories overlap: leopards are occasionally seen in areas on the park periphery. Jackal hyena caracal and jungle cat are also found. In recent years, the tiger population has become increasingly diurnal and there have been many sightings of tigers hunting sambar on the banks of the lakes. The greater visibility of this magnificent animal, directly due to careful management, has made the park well - known as one of the easier parks for tiger photography.
Sambar and chital are common throughout the park and are found in large concentrations near the lakes along with small groups of nilgai. In the scrub and thorn, chinkara are often seen. Other animals seen include the marsh crocodile, wile boar, ratel, monitor lizard and sloth bear.
The rich birdlife reflects the range of flora on which it feeds. During the winter months the lakes attract a variety of migrant water birds.
The park entrance is only eight miles from Sawai Madhopur station on the main Bombay - Delhi line. A meerguage line connects Sawai Madhopur with Jaipur (10miles / 162 km).