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Sawai Madhopur, the entry point for the famous Ranthambhore National Park, is situated around 182 km from Jaipur, the nearest airport. The railway station lies on the Delhi - Bombay route. The city lies midway between Bharatpur and Kota.
Ranthambhore National Park
The Park is one of the prime examples of Project Tiger's conservation efforts in Rajasthan. It covers an area of over 400 sq km with many steep crags embracing a network of lakes and rivers. Atop one of these hills, the 10th century Ranthambhore Fort stands like a silent sentinel. The terrain is a blend of impregnable forests and open bush land. The forest is the typically dry deciduous type with dhok being the most prominent tree.
Ranthambhore is best known for its tiger population. Experts reckon that the tiger population here may now be as low as 15, although the official figures put it at 22, down from 44 a few years back. Apart from tigers, the park has its share of panthers, too. Kachida Valley is believed to be the place to sight these rather elusive cats. One can also find marsh crocodiles, hyenas, jungle cats and sloth bears apart from Chital, Nilgai, and Chinkara. The avian population comprises of black storks, quails, Bonillo’s eagles, spur fowls, crested serpent eagles, and painted storks. During the winter months, the park attracts a lot of migratory birds, including a variety of ducks. The best time of visit the park is between October and April. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to view game. It is the ideal park for wildlife photography.
The fort is definitely worth visiting as it offers a panoramic view of the park, from its ramparts. From the fort, one can see open bush land and fairly dense forest, dotted with ruined pavilions/ chatris and hideouts. The area was formerly the hunting preserve of the Maharajas. A good network of four gravel tracks criss-crosses the park and safaris are undertaken in open-sided jeeps driven by a ranger.
Tonk was once the stronghold of the Pathan tribesmen of Afghanistan who came of India. Modern Tonk was founded by Nawab Ameer Khan as a result of a treaty with the British in 1818. Tonk is known for its famous Sunehri Kothi – the golden mansion and the Arabic and Persian Research Institute which houses a superb collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts, some of them lavishly ornamented with gold, rubies, emeralds and pearls.