Welcome to Ranthambore National Park
The Ranthambore Fort is located at the top of a rocky outcrop in the middle of the forest, which almost literally marks the meeting of the Aravali and Vindhya hills ranges. A marked difference can be noticed in the terrain in front of and that behind the fort. The fort is huge and covers an area of approximately 7 kilometers in circumference. It is one of the oldest forts in the country and is said to have been built in 944 AD by a Chauhan warrior. The "Hanuman" temple within the fort has a large number of resident langurs Due to it's location and structure, it is considered to have been one of the most difficult forts to overthrow. It repulsed attempts by great warriors such as Alaudin Khilji, Kutub-ud-din, Feroz Tughlaq, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. The most successful ruler of this fort is known to have been Rao Hammir in the 11th century.
According to a legend, over a thousand women once committed mass suicide as they would rather have killed themselves than fall prey to the armies of a victorious invader.
In 1528, the reign of the fort went into the hands of the Mughals and even the great emperor "Akbar" is said to have stayed at the fort between 1558 and 1559.
The Fort was finally gifted by the Mughals in the late 17th century to the Maharaja of Jaipur, who ruled his kingdom not far away from the magnificent fort at Amer. The fort then remained with the royal family of Jaipur. The surrounding jungles which now form the National Park were then the royal hunting grounds. This turned out to be a boon for the forest as hunting was extremely well controlled and the wilderness allowed to flourish.
A trip to the fort is a thrilling experience. The first thing that hits you is the breathtaking view in every direction. The interiors of the fort are also stunning. The quality of workmanship is difficult to match even today despite the advances that science has made in every field. The acoustics of the Hammir court, where a whisper can be heard at the other end of the building, is only one of the many marvels one witnesses here.
The "Gupt Ganga" is another marvel which is a series of steps cut into rock until they arrive at a perennial stream. Please ensure that you endeavour to go down these steps only if you are carrying some source of light with you. Other than the possibility of snakes and bats, the steps very abruptly come to an end at square opening under which the water flows.
For the religious minded, the fort is an absolute must visit. The entire fort is dotted with beautiful temples and also a mosque. The most famous of these being the temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. It is said that devotees actually send in letters to the God at this temple, which are brought up daily by the local postman.
If you are not a person interested in ancient architecture and history, you will still not go back disappointed because of the view of the park the fort offers. With a pair of good binoculars, it is definite that you would be able to spot any tiger coming out to the lake waters below. A sight that is different but equally awesome as seeing a tiger up close. The fort also possesses an excellent population of birds, resident and migratory. This is due to the numerous water bodies present within it's confines and the excellent vegetation.
A visit to Ranthambore National Park without a trip to the fort should not even be imagined.