A land of rich history and a past full of mystery, Rajasthan has always captivated me. It is one part of our country that I have always wanted to unravel its mysteries. While places like Udaipur, Jaipur and Ajmer and bustling with tourists, places like Bundi, Pushkar and Ranthambore have been left to explore for tourists like us. I recently visited Ranthambore – an offbeat location that is getting noticed.
Ranthambore is not actually a small town or village but a 392 Square km national park, which used to be a hunting ground for Maharajahs of Jaipur. Hunting is no longer legal and the Government has converted this region into a Tiger Reserve. Ranthambore National Park is, one of the largest national parks in Northern India, famous for Bengal Tigers. The closest town near Ranthambore National Park is Sawai Madhopur, which is around 140 kms away from Jaipur, which is also the nearest Airport. From Jaipur, you could either take a taxi or a bus to reach Madhopur. Ranthambore is also very well connected by Indian Railways from major cities like Delhi and the nearest railway station is around 13 kms away in Sawai Madhopur. There are not that many hotels or resorts to stay so book yourself a room before planning a trip to Ranthambore. I had booked myself a A/C Tent with White Mushroom Ranthambore as the resort was pocket friendly as well as I had heard about the company from my friends. The tent came with attached bathroom with Hot & Cold running water and complimentary toiletries.
I took an early morning flight from Delhi to Jaipur. With help from my friend, I had already pre-booked a taxi service for myself. My taxi was waiting outside. After having scrumptious pyaaz kachori, we left for Sawai Madhopur. It is around 3 hours journey by road and we reached the resort around 3 PM. The resort is well-situated on the main road with car park option available. The closest landmark is Dhonk crafts (a handicraft store from where you can buy souvenirs). A yummy welcome drink was offered and the check-in process was smooth and quick.
After taking a quick nap, we inquired about the safari timings and other places to visit at the reception. The receptionist was extremely helpful. Other than Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, the national park is home to Ranthambore Fort, Padam Talao Lake and Jogi Mahal. If you love trekking then there are couple of trekking tours you can book. What surprised us most was the dolphin watching tour. Palighat is about 1 hour drive and famous for Crocodile sighting. Rameshwar Ghat around 2 hours drive is where dolphin sighting is possible. We pre-booked ourselves for Jungle safari and dolphin and crocodile sighting tours. The rates could vary and I would definitely advice to book these tours along with your room booking. This will be more cost-effective and will guarantee you a spot (only limited number of jeeps are allowed inside tiger reserve and you may not be able to visit the reserve if there are no jeeps or seats available).
With no mood to step out of the resort, we decided spend our evening at the resort itself. We had an early dinner and had Rajasthan’s famous Dal Bati Churma and Gatta curry. If you are a non-vegetarian, then we would definitely recommend you to try Laal Maans and Junglee Maans. There was also live barbeque option available. After the dinner, we enjoyed a folk dance performance, which was arranged by the White Mushroom and called in for an early night. We woke up around 5 AM next morning as our safari was scheduled for 7:00 AM. The jeep was waiting for us outside our tent. It is about 4 hours tour and we were able to spot a tiger. We were done with the tour by 11 AM. We had tit-bits at the park and decided to trek to the Ranthambore Fort.
A declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fort’s most popular area is Battees Khamba (32 pillars). After spending some time at the fort, we visited the Jogi Mahal. Jogi Mahal was earlier used by Maharajahs as a resting place and was then converted into a resort. Unfortunately the resort closed but the Mahal is still flocked by tourists to see the second largest Banyan tree in India and lilies in Padam Talao. By 6 PM, we returned to our room. The property has a really nice and clean swimming pool. We relaxed ourselves near the pool and enjoyed the free wi-fi service offered by the resort.
We woke up next day around 8 AM and had breakfast at the resort. We left for Rameshwaram Ghat for our dolphin sight tour. It is a 2 hours ride. Rameshwar is also famous for its temples. After our dolphin tour we left the ghats for Palighat. We reached Palighat after an hour and had lunch organized by the resort. We took our second safari for the day. The boat ride is extremely peaceful and will remind you of Kerala backwaters (minus the coconut trees). The boat ride is 2 hours and you will be able to see gharials and crocodiles. After our boat ride, we took a walking tour and walked around the sanctuary. I would highly suggest to stay at Palighat till the sunset. Tired and famished, we came back to our resort and ordered something from our room. This was also the end of our amazing Ranthambore trip and time to move on to our next adventure.
It was a trip that I thoroughly enjoyed. I always wanted to experience Royal life and I am thankful to White Mushroom resort for providing the opportunity. If you are like me and love to relax as well as do sightseeing then this resort is perfect. You could spend a whole day at resort and do nothing but enjoy the scenic views. If you want to ensure that you sight a tiger then visit the reserve between the months September and March. During the monsoon, both the reserve and sanctuary are closed.