Ranthambhore -- for many decades the hunting preserve of the princes of Jaipur -- covers a mere 40,000 hectares (98,800 acres) but offers a fascinating combination of crumbling monuments, living temples, wild beauty, and your best chance to spot a wild tiger. Set within a high, jagged escarpment, Ranthambhore Fort (save a few hours for a visit) has towered over the park's forests for nearly a thousand years and has witnessed many a bloody combat -- even the Mughal emperor Akbar fought a battle for supremacy here in the 16th century. Inside the fort (open dawn-dusk at no cost) lie a number of ruined palaces, step wells, and a celebrated Ganesha temple visited every year in September by two million pilgrims who come to worship during the Lord Ganesha's birthday. But it is the forests, that lie shimmering in the gorges below, scattered with more ancient crumbling monuments, that attract the foreign pilgrims, who come during the winter months to catch a glimpse of the mighty Bengal tiger. Sightings are recorded fairly regularly -- it is said that between 75% and 95% of all the photographs ever taken of a tiger in the wild have been taken in Ranthambhore. This has meant that the 26-odd tigers living here have become totally habituated to human observation and are almost entirely indifferent to the sight and sound of vehicles and camera flashes. … Back to Article
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