India tiger safari, Ranthambhore - Where the legend of Machli was born!
India tiger safari to Ranthambhore national park
We took our first India wildlife tour way back in 1997. After a quick visit to the world famous Bharatpur bird sanctuary - where we marvelled at a pair of Siberian Cranes - we travelled by train just a few hours south to Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary; located in the state of Rajasthan. There were far fewer visitors to the park in those days and sightings were far from guaranteed; even if you spent several days there. Luck was clearly on my side, as I spotted a tigress at a small chatri by the main Padam Lake on my very first safari. This may well have been the 'Lady of the Lake'; the dominant female of that time and the tigress who gave birth to the legend that was Machli.
The early years of Machli at Ranthambhore national park
Machli was first sighted and photographed at Ranthambhore in 1997 and took over the lakes area as the dominant female in 1999. Her first litter happened when she was around 3 years old, when she mated with the dominant male at that time called Bamboo Ram. She went on to have 4 more litters and was famous for her ability to mix aggression and power with feminine charm and seduction to keep resident male tigers away from her cubs; especially those who were not the father of the cubs. During this time the BBC and other organisation filmed her and her cubs and a lot more additional information about tiger families was gleaned from the many hours of footage.
Life by Padam Lake for Machli in her prime
There are good reasons why this prime piece of Ranthambhore real estate is fought over by the dominant females in Ranthambhore. We would recommend climbing the 200 (approximate) stone steps to the top of the magnificent 12th century fort and keeping to your left find a peaceful spot from where you can view the entire lake. Marvel at the magnificent Palm and Banyan tress which surround it and note how large herds of Sambar (tigers favourite prey) can be see knee deep in the water eating a type of green aquatic plant. This is the greenest and most prey dense area of the entire park and even a tiger who is not as formidable a hunter as Machli will thrive here. This is a place worth upsurping your mother for and as history repeats itself, it would be the place where one of her daughters finally ended Machli's 10 year reign as 'Queen of the Lake'
Other wildlife you will see at Ranthambhore.
We may be a little bias when it comes to talking about the beauty of Ranthambhore and it tremendous variety of wildlife, as we have visited more than 10 times since our first trip in 1997 and have seen incredible Indian wildlife such as leopard, jungle cat, sloth bear, leopard cat, mongoose and encountered many different tigers; as well as observing small cubs and tigers on kills. However it is the overall beauty of the park with the ancient fort, 3 large lakes and undulating terrain which really packs the punch and makes this one of the most photogenic tiger sanctuaries in India.
Best wildlife lodges to stay in at Ranthambhore
Of course as a company who specialises in tailor-made and custom India tiger safaris it is for us to present multiple wildlife lodges to our clients - most of them mid-range and above - so different clients; whether they be single traveller, a couple on a honeymoon, or a extended family can make the right choice of lodge for them. What we can say as a summary is that many of the resort/hotel type properties are not located near the park itself or any forest areas. So if you are after a good price and incredible service with a smile then our hotel of choice is the Ranthambhore Regency. However if you want to have more of a wilderness feel and a luxury tiger safari experience, we would recommend either Sherbagh or Vanyavilas.
Out of all the national parks in India it is Ranthambhore which we know the best and can produce combination tours here with other highlights, such as a visit to southern Rajasthan for Leopards or the nearby Ramathra Fort to live like a King for a few days. Check out our India tiger safaris here.