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A Wild Tiger Safari In India’s Ranthambore National Park


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Emlynn Almaraz



India, with its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes, has long been a dream destination for wildlife enthusiasts. And when it comes to experiencing the thrill of encountering majestic tigers in their natural habitat, Ranthambore National Park stands out as an exhilarating choice.


Nestled in the eastern part of Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park is a sprawling wildlife reserve that covers an area of over 1,300 square kilometers. Established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1955, and later declared a national park in 1980, Ranthambore is renowned for its thriving tiger population.


With its varied topography of dense forests, open grasslands, rocky slopes, and ancient ruins, Ranthambore provides the perfect setting for a memorable tiger safari adventure. Besides tigers, the park is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers.


Every year, thousands of wildlife enthusiasts and photographers flock to Ranthambore in search of that unique and awe-inspiring encounter with the big cats. The park’s stunning landscapes, combined with the thrill of spotting a tiger in the wild, create an experience that is both magical and unforgettable.


Ranthambore National Park not only offers a chance to witness the raw beauty of nature but also plays a vital role in tiger conservation efforts. With the depletion of tiger habitats across the country, Ranthambore’s success in protecting and preserving these magnificent creatures is commendable.


In this article, we will delve into the enchanting world of Ranthambore National Park, exploring its history, biodiversity, and the best ways to plan your visit. Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, or simply someone seeking an extraordinary adventure, Ranthambore offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of India’s wilderness.


Location and Background of Ranthambore National Park

Situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park is located at the junction of the Aravalli and Vindhya hill ranges. The park’s unique positioning offers a diverse landscape encompassing both rugged terrains and verdant valleys.


Ranthambore National Park is named after the Ranthambore Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 10th century. The fort, perched on a hilltop, overlooks the vast expanse of the park, enhancing its mystique and providing a glimpse into a bygone era.


The park is renowned for its historical importance, with ancient ruins and structures scattered throughout its boundaries. These remnants of Ranthambore’s royal past add an extra layer of intrigue and charm to the park’s already captivating landscape.


In addition to its cultural significance, Ranthambore National Park is recognized as one of India’s premier tiger reserves. The park has been instrumental in the conservation of these magnificent creatures, serving as a safe haven for their survival and growth.


Spanning an area of 1,334 square kilometers, Ranthambore National Park is divided into ten zones, each offering a unique wildlife experience. From the dense forests of Zone 1, known as the core zone, to the picturesque lakes of Zone 6, Ranthambore ensures that every safari brings a new and exciting adventure.


Access to the park is made easy through the town of Sawai Madhopur, which serves as the gateway to Ranthambore and offers a range of accommodation options for visitors. From luxury resorts to budget-friendly lodges, there is something to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences.


Surrounded by a buffer zone that is home to several rural communities, Ranthambore National Park also endeavors to strike a balance between conservation and livelihoods. Engaging with the local population and ensuring their participation in conservation efforts is an integral part of Ranthambore’s sustainable approach.


Ranthambore National Park truly offers a unique blend of history, culture, and wildlife. Its strategic location, coupled with its commitment to tiger conservation, makes it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an extraordinary and enriching experience in the heart of India.


History of Tigers in Ranthambore

Tigers have played a significant role in the history of Ranthambore National Park. Dating back centuries, the park and its surrounding areas have been intertwined with tales of these majestic predators.


Historically, Ranthambore was a favored hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. The rulers would organize grand hunts, with tigers being the center of their attention. The park’s proximity to the capital city made it a convenient location for royal hunting expeditions.


However, as the importance of wildlife conservation began to gain recognition, the hunting of tigers was strictly prohibited, and Ranthambore was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1955. This marked the park’s transition from a hunting ground to a protected area for preserving the rich biodiversity of the region.


Over the years, Ranthambore National Park became recognized as an important habitat for tigers. The park’s dense forests and abundant prey species provided an ideal environment for these apex predators to thrive.


In the early 1970s, Ranthambore captured international attention when a documentary titled “Tigers of the Emerald Forest” was filmed in the park. The documentary showcased the breathtaking beauty of Ranthambore’s tigers and their natural behaviors, bringing global awareness to the importance of preserving their habitat.


However, despite its protected status, the tiger population in Ranthambore faced challenges due to poaching and habitat degradation. In the late 20th century, the park’s tiger population declined drastically, raising concerns about their survival.


In response to this alarming situation, rigorous conservation efforts were initiated. These included stricter anti-poaching measures, habitat restoration, and relocation of villages outside the park boundaries. The concerted efforts of the park authorities and conservation organizations helped in stabilizing the tiger population and ensuring their long-term survival.


Today, Ranthambore National Park is not only known for its significant tiger population but also for its successful conservation initiatives. The park’s success story serves as an inspiration for other tiger reserves in India and around the world.


Visiting Ranthambore offers a glimpse into this remarkable history and the ongoing efforts to protect and conserve these magnificent creatures. It is a testament to the resilience of the tiger population and the importance of preserving their natural habitats.


Importance of Tiger Conservation in India

Tigers hold a special place in Indian culture and mythology, symbolizing power, beauty, and grace. However, over the years, these magnificent creatures have faced numerous challenges, pushing them to the brink of extinction. Recognizing the importance of preserving this iconic species, tiger conservation efforts in India have gained immense significance.


India is home to the largest population of tigers in the world, making it a critical habitat for their survival. These majestic cats play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitats, ensuring the health and preservation of forests, grasslands, and water bodies.


Tigers are considered apex predators, regulating the population of prey species such as deer and wild boar. By doing so, they prevent overgrazing, maintain the balance of herbivores, and have a cascading effect on the entire ecosystem.


Moreover, tigers are known as “umbrella species” because their conservation indirectly benefits a wide range of flora and fauna. By protecting tiger habitats and ensuring their survival, we are also safeguarding the biodiversity of the ecosystems they inhabit.


Conserving tigers has multiple benefits, not just for the natural environment but also for local communities. Tiger reserves attract tourists from around the world, providing significant economic opportunities. Tourism revenue supports local businesses, creates employment, and encourages sustainable development in the surrounding areas.


Additionally, the presence of tigers in a region has cultural and religious significance. Tigers are revered and deeply rooted in Indian mythology and folklore. Their conservation is not only a conservationist’s endeavor but also a collective responsibility ingrained in the cultural fabric of India.


India has made significant strides in tiger conservation with the launch of the “Project Tiger” initiative in 1973. This program focuses on the protection, management, and expansion of tiger habitats across the country. Through the efforts of the government, local communities, and various conservation organizations, there has been a gradual increase in tiger populations in several reserves, including Ranthambore National Park.


However, challenges persist in maintaining this positive trajectory. The illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict continue to pose threats to tiger populations. Efforts to combat these issues include strengthening anti-poaching measures, promoting sustainable livelihoods for local communities, and raising awareness about the importance of tiger conservation.


By conserving tigers in India, we not only protect a majestic species but also ensure the well-being of our ecosystems, promote sustainable development, and preserve our cultural heritage. The future of tigers rests in our hands, and it is crucial that we continue to support and prioritize their conservation.


Getting to Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park is located in the state of Rajasthan, making it easily accessible from various parts of India. Whether you prefer to travel by air, train, or road, there are several options to reach this wildlife haven.


By Air: The nearest airport to Ranthambore National Park is Jaipur International Airport, located approximately 160 kilometers away. From the airport, you can hire a cab or take a train or bus to Sawai Madhopur, the town closest to the park.


By Train: Sawai Madhopur Railway Station serves as the main railhead for reaching Ranthambore National Park. It is well-connected to major cities like Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Trains such as the Shatabdi Express and Rajdhani Express provide convenient options for travel.


By Road: Ranthambore is well-connected by road networks, making it accessible via private vehicles or state-run buses. From Jaipur, the journey takes around 3-4 hours, and from Delhi, it takes approximately 7-8 hours. You can also hire a taxi or use app-based cab services for a comfortable and convenient journey.


Once you reach Sawai Madhopur, the town closest to Ranthambore, you have multiple options for reaching the national park. The park entrance is located around 12 kilometers from the town center.


Shared Jeeps: Shared jeeps are a popular mode of transport to explore the park. These jeeps accommodate six to eight people and can be booked at the safari booking office in advance or hired on the spot, subject to availability.


Private Jeeps: If you prefer a more personalized experience, you can hire a private jeep for your safari. Private jeeps offer flexibility in terms of timing and can be customized according to your preferences. It is advisable to book private jeeps in advance to ensure availability.


Canter Safaris: Canter safaris are larger vehicles that can accommodate a higher number of passengers. These open-air vehicles provide a shared safari experience, offering a panoramic view of the park’s wilderness. Canter safaris also need to be booked in advance.


It is important to remember that Ranthambore National Park has specific visiting hours and a limited number of safaris allowed per day. It is recommended to plan your visit well in advance and make the necessary reservations to avoid any inconvenience.


Reaching Ranthambore National Park is an adventure in itself, as the journey takes you through the rustic landscapes of Rajasthan. Whether you choose to travel by air, train, or road, the anticipation of the wildlife encounters ahead will keep you enthralled throughout your journey.


Best Time to Visit Ranthambore National Park

When planning a visit to Ranthambore National Park, timing is crucial to maximize your chances of spotting tigers and experiencing the park’s vibrant wildlife. The best time to visit Ranthambore depends on various factors, including weather conditions, animal behavior, and the overall park experience.


The park is open from October to June, with each season offering a unique experience:


1. Winter (October to February): The winter season in Ranthambore is considered the peak time for wildlife sightings. The weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 25°C (50°F to 77°F). During this time, the vegetation thins out, making wildlife more visible. Tigers can be spotted near water bodies as they come out to drink. Migratory birds also flock to the park during this season, adding to the birdwatching experience.


2. Summer (March to June): Summer in Ranthambore is hot, with temperatures soaring up to 45°C (113°F). However, this season is known for its excellent tiger sightings as the dry and arid landscapes force animals to venture out in search of water. The park’s water bodies become important gathering spots, creating thrilling opportunities to witness predator-prey interactions. Early morning and late afternoon safaris are recommended to avoid the scorching heat.


3. Monsoon (July to September): The monsoon season brings a fresh burst of greenery to Ranthambore, transforming the landscape into a lush paradise. While the park remains closed during this time, the pre-monsoon period (July to mid-September) can offer unique photographic opportunities. The park reopens in October when the monsoon subsides, and the flora and fauna rejuvenate.


It’s important to note that wildlife sightings, including tiger sightings, are a matter of luck and depend on various factors. Factors such as animal behavior, vegetation density, and visitor density can influence your safari experience.


To enhance your chances of spotting tigers and other wildlife, it is recommended to take multiple safaris during your visit. Morning safaris are known for better lighting conditions and active animal movements, while afternoon safaris provide a chance to witness unique behaviors and interactions.


It is advisable to pre-book your safari permits and choose a reputable tour operator or naturalist guide who has a good understanding of the park and its wildlife patterns. Their expertise can greatly enhance your safari experience.


Whichever season you choose to visit Ranthambore National Park, prepare yourself for an adventure like no other. Whether it’s the thrill of tiger sightings, the vibrant birdlife, or the breathtaking landscapes, Ranthambore offers a captivating wildlife experience throughout the year.


Accommodation Options in and around Ranthambore

When planning a visit to Ranthambore National Park, choosing the right accommodation is essential for a comfortable and convenient stay. The park and its surrounding areas offer a variety of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget.


1. Luxury Resorts: Ranthambore boasts several luxury resorts that provide a blend of opulence and wilderness. These resorts offer a range of amenities, including spacious rooms, world-class dining, spa facilities, and personalized services. Many luxury resorts also have their own wildlife experts and naturalists who can enhance your safari experience.


2. Boutique Hotels: For travelers looking for a more intimate and boutique experience, there are stylish and charming hotels in and around Ranthambore. These hotels often have a unique theme or design and provide a cozy and personalized atmosphere.


3. Wildlife Lodges: Wildlife lodges are a popular choice for those seeking an authentic jungle experience. These lodges are designed to blend with the natural surroundings, giving you a sense of being closer to nature. They offer comfortable rooms, delicious local cuisine, and knowledgeable staff who can guide you through the park’s wonders.


4. Budget Hotels and Guesthouses: Ranthambore also offers budget-friendly options for travelers on a tighter budget. These accommodations provide basic amenities at affordable rates, making them suitable for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. They may not have the same level of luxury as the high-end resorts, but they still offer a comfortable and convenient stay.


5. Tented Camps: For a truly unique experience, you can opt for tented camps that provide a blend of luxury and adventure. These camps offer spacious tents with modern amenities and allow you to experience the thrill of staying amid nature. They often organize bush dinners and cultural performances, adding to the overall camping experience.


When choosing your accommodation, consider its proximity to the park entrance and the facilities it offers. Some resorts and lodges have their own in-house naturalists and guides who can accompany you on safaris and provide valuable insights about the park’s wildlife.


It is advisable to book your accommodation well in advance, especially during the peak season, to ensure availability and secure the best rates. Many accommodations offer packages that include safari bookings and transfers, making it easier for you to plan your entire trip in one go.


Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, Ranthambore offers a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and wildlife. The accommodation options available cater to different traveler preferences, ensuring a memorable and comfortable stay during your visit to this enchanting national park.


Safari Options in Ranthambore National Park

A safari in Ranthambore National Park is the highlight of any visit, offering an opportunity to witness the park’s incredible wildlife up close. There are various safari options available, ensuring that every visitor can choose an experience that suits their preferences and interests.


1. Jeep Safaris: Jeep safaris are the most popular and widely preferred option for exploring Ranthambore. These open-top vehicles can accommodate up to six people and provide a more intimate and personalized safari experience. Jeep safaris offer excellent mobility, allowing you to navigate through the park’s diverse terrains and increase your chances of wildlife sightings.


2. Canter Safaris: Canter safaris are larger vehicles that can accommodate a larger number of people, usually around 20. These open-air vehicles provide a shared safari experience, allowing you to interact with fellow travelers and share the excitement of wildlife encounters. Canter safaris are a great option for large groups or those who prefer a more social safari experience.


3. Full-Day Safaris: For those who want to immerse themselves completely in the wilderness, full-day safaris are available in Ranthambore. These safaris provide an extended duration of exploration, giving you ample time to explore different zones of the park and have a more in-depth wildlife experience. Full-day safaris are ideal for avid wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.


4. Morning and Evening Safaris: Ranthambore National Park offers both morning and evening safaris, each offering a unique atmosphere and wildlife sightings. Morning safaris start early, before sunrise, and provide an opportunity to witness animals in their active state, basking in the soft morning light. Evening safaris begin in the late afternoon and continue until sunset, allowing you to witness the park’s creatures as they prepare for the night.


5. Zone-specific Safaris: Ranthambore National Park is divided into multiple zones, each offering a distinct wildlife experience. When booking your safari, you can choose specific zones based on your preferences or the recommendations of experienced guides. Each zone has its own unique topography, water bodies, and animal populations, adding a sense of anticipation and exploration to your safari experience.


It is important to note that safari bookings in Ranthambore National Park need to be made in advance through the official government portal or with authorized tour operators. The number of safari vehicles allowed per day is limited, so securing your booking in advance ensures availability on your preferred dates.


During your safari, it is crucial to follow the park’s guidelines and instructions provided by your safari guide. Maintaining silence, respecting the animals’ space, and not littering are essential for both your safety and the well-being of the park’s inhabitants.


Embarking on a safari in Ranthambore National Park opens the door to a world of thrilling wildlife encounters. Whether you choose a jeep safari, a canter safari, a full-day adventure, or prefer specific zones, each safari promises an unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience amidst the wilderness of Ranthambore.


Wildlife Diversity in Ranthambore

Ranthambore National Park is a treasure trove of biodiversity, teeming with a wide array of flora and fauna. The diverse landscapes of the park support a rich and vibrant ecosystem, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.


As one of India’s premier tiger reserves, Ranthambore is famous for its population of majestic Bengal tigers. These big cats are the main attraction, and spotting them in their natural habitat is an exhilarating experience. Ranthambore’s success in tiger conservation has contributed significantly to the growing tiger population in India.


Aside from tigers, Ranthambore is also home to a diverse range of animals. The park boasts a healthy population of leopards, providing visitors with a chance to witness the elusive beauty of these spotted cats. Sloth bears, striped hyenas, and Indian foxes are among the other carnivores that inhabit the park.


Ranthambore is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, as the park is home to more than 300 avian species. From the majestic Indian eagle owl and colorful Indian roller to the graceful painted stork and white-throated kingfisher, the park offers a delightful experience for birdwatchers. Winter attracts a vast number of migratory birds, adding to the park’s avian diversity.


Various species of deer can be found in Ranthambore, including the spotted deer (also known as chital), sambar deer, and the elusive and endangered barking deer (also known as muntjac). These deer provide a vital source of prey for the park’s predators and are a common sight during safaris.


The park’s water bodies are home to a variety of reptiles, including marsh crocodiles and Indian pythons. These reptiles play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of the park’s aquatic ecosystems.


In addition to its diverse fauna, Ranthambore boasts a rich biodiversity of plants, with various types of trees, shrubs, and grasses covering the landscape. The park’s vegetation provides vital habitat and food sources for its inhabitants, ensuring a thriving ecosystem.


Exploring the wildlife diversity of Ranthambore National Park is a truly enriching experience, offering a deep appreciation for the intricate interconnections between species and their habitats. Each safari reveals a new surprise and unfolds the fascinating world of wildlife that calls Ranthambore their home.


Famous Tigers of Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park is renowned for its thriving tiger population, and over the years, certain tigers have earned a special place in the hearts of wildlife enthusiasts and researchers. These iconic felines have captivated visitors with their beauty, charisma, and incredible stories. Here are some of the famous tigers of Ranthambore:


1. Machali (T-16): Also known as the “Queen of Ranthambore,” Machali gained international fame and became an emblem of Indian wildlife. Born in 1996, she was one of the most photographed and documented tigers. Machali’s resilience, dominance, and incredible hunting skills made her a legend in the park. Her lineage has continued to thrive even after her passing.


2. Sultan (T-72): Sultan is known for his striking features, with piercing blue eyes and a regal appearance. He gained popularity for his fearless nature and dominant attitude. Sultan’s territory encompassed several prime tourism zones, making sightings of him a thrilling experience.


3. Ustad (T-24): Ustad, also known as the “Gentle Giant,” was a dominant male tiger with a majestic aura. Known for his enormous size and striking presence, Ustad ruled over a significant part of Ranthambore. He was involved in a few controversial incidents that led to concerns about his human interaction, and he was eventually relocated to a wildlife sanctuary.


4. Krishna (T-19): Krishna was known for her nurturing nature as a mother to several litters of cubs. She was an exceptional hunter and a sight to behold as she gracefully moved through her territory. Her legacy lives on through her cubs, who continue to reign over the park.


5. Noor (T-39): Noor, also known as “Machali Junior,” inherited her mother Machali’s royal lineage and spirit. She garnered attention for her bravery and extraordinary hunting skills. Noor has left an indelible mark on Ranthambore’s tiger population and continues to be a symbol of strength and resilience.


These are just a few examples of the famous tigers that have roamed the jungles of Ranthambore National Park. Each tiger has a unique story, personality, and contribution to the park’s conservation efforts. Their presence has played a crucial role in raising awareness about tiger conservation and the importance of protecting their habitats.


Ranthambore National Park’s enduring fame as a tiger reserve is a testament to the magnificent tigers that have called it home. Their majestic presence continues to enthrall visitors, ensuring that Ranthambore remains a cherished destination for wildlife enthusiasts from around the world.


Other Attractions and Activities in Ranthambore

While Ranthambore National Park is the main highlight of a visit to the region, there are several other attractions and activities that can enhance your overall experience. From historical landmarks to cultural encounters, Ranthambore offers a diverse range of offerings to explore:


1. Ranthambore Fort: Located within the national park, the historic Ranthambore Fort is a must-visit attraction. Dating back to the 10th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases magnificent architecture and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Exploring the fort provides a glimpse into the region’s rich history and the lives of its former rulers.


2. Surwal Lake: Situated near the park, Surwal Lake is a beautiful water body that attracts a wide variety of bird species. Birdwatching enthusiasts can spend hours observing the vibrant avian life here, including migratory birds during the winter months. The peaceful ambiance and scenic surroundings are perfect for unwinding and enjoying the serenity of nature.


3. Village Walks: Engaging in village walks is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture and gain insights into the lives of rural communities residing around Ranthambore. Interact with villagers, visit local markets, and observe traditional crafts and practices. This experience offers a deeper understanding of the region’s customs and traditions.


4. Wildlife Photography: Ranthambore presents a fantastic opportunity for wildlife photography enthusiasts to capture breathtaking moments in the wild. Capture the regal beauty of tigers, the grace of leopards, and the vibrant avian species that inhabit the park. Hiring a knowledgeable naturalist or guide can assist you in finding the perfect spots for remarkable wildlife photography.


5. Village Safari: Experience the rural charm of Rajasthan with a village safari, where you can explore the countryside in a jeep or on camelback. Witness the simplicity of village life, visit traditional homes, and learn about age-old customs and practices. This cultural excursion offers a glimpse into the region’s rich heritage and the warmth of the local community.


6. Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History: Located in Sawai Madhopur, this museum provides insight into the flora, fauna, and ecology of the region. Exhibitions, dioramas, and interactive displays offer an educational experience, making it an ideal visit for those interested in the natural history of the region.


In addition to these attractions and activities, Ranthambore also offers opportunities for wellness retreats, evening performances of traditional dance and music, and exploring nearby wildlife sanctuaries and historical sites.


Visiting Ranthambore is not only about wildlife encounters but also about immersing yourself in the region’s vibrant culture and heritage. Engage in these activities and explore the various attractions to create a well-rounded and unforgettable experience during your visit to Ranthambore.



A visit to Ranthambore National Park is a mesmerizing journey into the heart of India’s wilderness. From its rich biodiversity and famed tiger population to its historical landmarks and cultural encounters, Ranthambore offers a diverse range of experiences that leave a lasting impact on visitors.


Exploring the park’s rugged terrains and open grasslands, witnessing the raw power and beauty of tigers in their natural habitat, and learning about the region’s rich history all contribute to an unforgettable journey. Ranthambore’s success in tiger conservation is commendable, serving as a role model for other tiger reserves.


The best time to visit Ranthambore depends on individual preferences and interests, with each season offering its own unique charm. Whether it’s the winter months, when wildlife sightings are abundant, or the summer season, when tigers roam closer to water bodies, Ranthambore promises extraordinary wildlife encounters.


Accommodation options in and around Ranthambore cater to all budgets and preferences, from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly lodges. The safari options provide flexibility and ensure that every visitor can explore the park according to their preferences.


Ranthambore is not just about tigers; it is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including leopards, bears, deer, and countless bird species. The park’s unique topography and varied ecosystems create a thriving habitat for these creatures.


Beyond the park, Ranthambore offers additional attractions and activities that complement the wildlife experience. The Ranthambore Fort, Surwal Lake, village walks, wildlife photography opportunities, and cultural encounters all add depth and diversity to a visit to the region.


As you plan your visit to Ranthambore National Park, remember to prioritize its conservation by maintaining environmental sustainability and supporting local communities. Enjoy the incredible wildlife, immerse yourself in the region’s rich history and culture, and leave with a renewed appreciation for the beauty and importance of wild spaces.


Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, or cultural explorer, Ranthambore provides a truly enchanting experience that will stay with you long after your visit. So, embark on this adventure and let the wild wonders of Ranthambore captivate your heart and soul.