"Ranthambhore - Bengal Tiger Territory" Top 5 Page for this destination Sawai Madhopur by 850prc

Sawai Madhopur Travel Guide: 155 reviews and 452 photos

Timeless royal residence for feline royalty

The town of Sawai Madhopur is located between Delhi and Jaipur, and other than being host to the Ranthambhore National Park/Tiger Preserve, it's a pretty nondescript little place. However, for those of us who believe that there is nothing more magnificent than the mighty Bengal tiger, it's a "do not miss" destination in Rajasthan.

For over 1000 years, Ranthambhore has been associated with this beautiful and terrifying creature. As early as the 9th century, there was already a fort (Chauhuan Fort) on a ridge overlooking present-day Ranthambhore. In 1031, Allauddin Khilji's army conquered the fort, and it was again overrun by Akbar the Great in 1569. From the mid-11th century on, the territory was used as a royal hunting grounds, both for tigers and other game.

As time went on and weaponry became more and more fierce, the population of the tigers began a slow and steady decline. By the mid-20th century, finding a tiger in the wild - even in Ranthambhore - had become more than rare. Thankfully, in 1972 the Indian government, working with PROJECT TIGER, made Ranthambhore an official national park, and dedicated it to the protection and expansion of the dwindling tiger population.

Today in Ranthambhore, we were told that there are some 30-35 tigers in residence. It may not seem like a huge number, but do remember that tigers are territorial and require large tracts of land to call "their own". Having a population of 30-35 healthy tigers, fully protected in a national park, represents a "tiger leap" forward from the past of only 30 years ago.

So, if the thought of seeing a tiger in the wild quickens your pulse, it's well worth a few days' detour to Sawai Moduhpur and the Ranthambhore National Park.

We found one on our first try

What a moment....late in the afternoon on our first of three journeys through the Ranthambhore National Park. We've been searching all afternoon for a look at Bengal Tiger in the wild. So far, we've been unsuccessful. We HAD seen leopards (very rare) and all sorts of other animals, but no tiger. We were about to give up and then.... the guide's radio crackles to life. They're chatting at each other in Hindi, and everyone is clearly excited. The guide barks directions to the driver... they turn around and say "hold on tight"... We literally fly through the park, the jeep's tires barely touching the ground. We go into a thick, tree-covered section of the trail and we see another jeep up ahead - stopped in the middle of the road. We slow down, they kill the engine and we silently roll to a stop.

The guide points up ahead and smiles broadly....

There he is... 40 meters ahead, a stunning Bengal tiger, sunning himself in the middle of the road. He stayed there for another three or four minutes, and then sauntered back into HIS forest. I managed to squeeze off several shots, and thanks to a nifty 300 mm telephoto lens, I got my great "in the wild" shot of a Tiger. That is the photo up above, the main photo on my Sawai Madhopur page.


There is only one option for visiting Ranthambhore, and that is via Indian government-run "safaris". Some are by smaller jeep, while others are by larger diesel overland vehicles. The one thing they all have in common is that it's a rough ride, through some bumpy territory. This is especially true when there's news of a tiger sighting, and the driver kicks it into high gear.

Hold on, secure your binoculars and oh yes.... HOLD ON.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:One of THE best places in the world to see a Bengal tiger in the wild.
  • Cons:Tiger sightings are never a guarantee... you may have to make several park visits to find one.
  • In a nutshell:We found a GREAT hotel, we met some wonderful people, both local Indians and fellow travelers... and oh yes, WE SAW A TIGER!
  • Last visit to Sawai Madhopur: Oct 2008
  • Intro Updated Dec 28, 2008
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Reviews (16)

Comments (13)

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Excellent pages and tips.

  • Danalia's Profile Photo
    Jul 9, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    Great photos ! I loved this page

  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo
    Jun 24, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    Great page, just what I needed for my upcomming trip to India. Wonderful picks. Valentina

  • Florida999's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    GREAT photos! I would love to go see those tigers!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    Hi Pete, it's been a while since I last looked at one of your authoritative and enthusiastic pages from your trip to India. The National Park sounds great, with lots to see even for those who aren't lucky enough to see a tiger or leopard.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2009 at 3:22 AM

    I've been meaning to check out your new pages for ages! So glad I made a start right here - I LOVE the tigers :-)) In fact I enjoyed reading about all your animal encounters, and really like the sound of that hotel :-)

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Jan 29, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    This Ranthambhore National Park tip is soooo well-written! Good job - and add on tips on tigers, crocodiles and monkies! Thanks for sharing --- wish I can visdit this someday! Norman :)

  • JudyinPA's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    Sara must have loved all the animals and birds. Very good coverage of the most interesting history and sights in this country

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Jan 18, 2009 at 7:05 PM

    Nice day to shoot tigers!

  • Faiza-Ifrah's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    WOW! you just had an adventure that i dream about. xclent tips and xclent pics. the deer seem to b a 'Barasingha stag' and monkey seems to be 'Langoor'. i wrote to you as well.


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