My last visit to Ranthambhor was in the month of Dec. There was chill in the air and mist on the horizon. There was a feeling of anticipation, a feeling of romance of the unknown. This time, it was bright and sunny. I was eager to revisit past experience, compare notes and go beyond it.
We stopped the gate of Tiger Reserve. Number of vehicles that can enter the forest is restricted. Travelling party is allocated a particular zone of the forest. Time by which the party has to be out of the forest is also fixed. Identity paper of visitors is checked at the gate. Visitors have to declare their movie camera, if any, and pay requisite fee.
Tarred road that lies past the forest gate, goes all the way to the base of Ranthambhor fort. Fort is the central figure in Ranthambhor. A fort with a history of at least 1000 years, some say nearly 1200 years.
|First Gate of Fort|
We moved past first gate of the fort. Gate was built between two mountains, on either side, that acted as natural barriers. We reached base of the fort as we moved on. Fort gets regular visitors in the form of pilgrims. Pilgrims come to visit and pray at Hindu and Jain temples in the fort. Though actual forest starts beyond fort, tigers stray into road leading to fort. No one has been killed by tigers so far and pilgrim movement has not stopped.
Most visitors to the park had, however, come to see a tiger. On the very first visit this time, we saw a tiger coming out of water in one zone and walking into the zone where our vehicle was. Tiger was walking near our canter. There was so much excitement, rush, pushing and shoving that I did not get a spot from where to shoot. That is the second time I regretted not booking a seat in a Gypsy.