Royal Rajasthan of India. Far in the western region, amidst the dry desert land of the Indian Subcontinent, lies the state of Rajasthan. It is the perfect blend of royalty, architecture, orthodox culture, colorful bazaars and the roar of the biggest cat in the word – The Royal Bengal Tiger. Rajasthan is the perfect getaway for adventure aficionados, serving a little something for everybody.
In this blog, we shall go over some of the major wildlife attractions in Rajasthan. Part 2 to follow soon.
- Ranthambore National Park
- Keoladeo National Park
- Desert National Park
- Sariska Tiger Reserve
- Tal Chhapar
- Bera Leopard Safari
Wildlife Hotspots in Rajasthan:
1. Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve, once a private wildlife reserve of the royal House of Jaipur, is one of the world’s best-known wilderness regions. Ranthambore, 14 kilometres from Sawai Madhopur, is located at the confluence of two of the geologically oldest mountain ranges, the Aravallis and the Vindyas, and provides some of the best possibilities to see the majestic tiger in the wild. This dry-deciduous forest system is home to an extraordinary variety of flora and animals, with rolling hills and crags, as well as meadows, lakes, and rivulets. At Ranthambore, you can see sloth bears, leopards, caracals, jackals, foxes, hyenas, and mongooses in addition to tigers. The elusive Indian wolf has also been seen here on rare occasions.
A visit to this park is a treat for tourists and naturalists alike, with the tiny chital, sambhar deer, blue bull antelope or nilgai, rhesus macaque, langur, and an astounding diversity of birds amidst a setting of dhok, fig, and banyan trees. Some of the sights and sounds that make this a safari experience like no other include basking crocodiles, a king vulture on a snag, the serpent eagle’s screech, and the alarm call of spotted deer. The 10th century castle of Ranthambore dominates the terrain, while the valleys are home to various cenotaphs, ruins, and abandoned communities that have been overrun by nature, testifying to conflicts and romances from a bygone past.
Things to do in Ranthambore:
Best time to visit Ranthambore:
March – May and October – February
How to reach Ranthambore:
- Train: The closest railhead to the park is Sawai Madhopur at a mere distance of 11 kms from the park, followed by Kota and Jaipur at a distance of 108 and 180 kms respectively.
- Air: The closest airport is Jaipur, located at a distance of 180 kms from the park. It is connected with major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.
- New Delhi – Ranthambore: 381 kms, 6-hour drive
- Jaipur – Ranthambore: 180 kms, 3-hour drive
- Agra – Ranthambore: 239 kms, 5-6-hour drive
- Bharatpur – Ranthambore: 202 kms, 4-hour drive
2. Keoladeo Ghana National Park
The Keoladeo National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is regarded as one of the world’s most important bird breeding and feeding places. It began as a royal hunting reserve in the 1850s, and it served as a game reserve for Maharajas and the British. In reality, Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1943, and his hunting party shot thousands of ducks in a single day! Keoladeo National Park was designated as a national park in 1982, and UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1985. The park is home to about 370 different bird and animal species, including the basking python, painted storks, deer, and nilgai.
Salim Ali, a noted Indian ornithologist, and naturalist, used his clout to persuade the government to approve the creation of Keoladeo National Park. It was also regarded as breeding habitat for the Siberian crane, which is extremely rare and difficult to observe. The treks in Keoladeo National Park are well-defined and may be completed on foot, by bicycle, or by rickshaw. The park management has actually trained the rickshaw drivers in bird watching, and they make excellent tour guides.
Things to do in Keoladeo:
Guided Birding Tours
Best time to visit Keoladeo:
An ideal time is peak winter from December to the end of February for that is when the winter migrants visit the Sanctuary.
- The Sanctuary is open throughout the year – with resident birds nesting when the monsoon hits from July – September.
- The waters of the wetland almost completely dry out in May-June.
How to reach Keoladeo:
- Train: Bharatpur Junction located 5 kms away from the national park is the nearest rail head. Reaching Bharatpur by train is easy as there are many trains that ply from New Delhi, Mumbai. Being on the main line, regular train service is available from Mathura, Sawai Madhopur and Kota on this route.
- Air: Nearest airport to reach this bird sanctuary is Agra about 54 kms from Bharatpur and New Delhi about 184 kilometers away. Daily flights are available to Agra from major cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Lucknow.
- New Delhi – Keoladeo : 184 kms
- Mathura – Keoladeo : 39 kms
- Agra – Keoladeo : 54 kms
- Jaipur – Bharatpur : 176 kms
3. Desert National Park:
The Desert National Park is located close to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Known for its forts, palaces, and rich cultural heritage, Jaisalmer sees a heavy footfall of both Indian and foreign tourists. In comparison, the Desert National Park which is just a short drive away, attracts fewer visitors, that too mostly day-trippers who come for the customary camel rides.
The park is covered with flat and undulating sand formations interspersed with patches of grasslands and thorny scrubs. Some areas have waterbodies, gravel plains, sand dunes and/or rocky patches. Vegetation is visibly scanty, which makes one wonder about what kind of life this habitat supports. Milkweed plants (Calotropis sp.), thor (Euphorbia sp.) and khejri trees (Prosopis sp.) are commonly seen across the landscape.
A lesser known fact about the Desert National Park is that it lies close to a rich fossil park, a protected area with deposits of fossils, where some wood fossils dating as old as 180 million years have been discovered!
Apart from being a natural habitat for Rajasthan’s state bird (great Indian bustard), animal (camel and chinkara), and tree (khejri), the Desert National Park recently came into the limelight for being one of the last remaining homes of the critically endangered great Indian bustard. Many flock to the park to get a glimpse of these large birds.
Things to do in Desert National Park:
Guided Wildlife Safaris
Best time to visit Desert National Park:
October – March
How to reach Desert National Park:
- Train: Jaisalmer railhead is the nearest railhead to Desert National Park.
- Air: Though Jaisalmer is not directly connected to Airways, Jodhpur airport which is 300 Km away is the nearest airport. From Jodhpur you can hire Cabs or take a train journey to reach Jaisalmer.
- Road: Jaisalmer is well connected to the rest of state by roads. Deluxe & Ordinary buses of Rajasthan Roadways & Private companies run from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Barmer, Mount Abu, Jalore, Ahemdabad etc., Roadways main bus stand opposite Railway station & Golden bus terminal near State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Shiv road, Jaisalmer are the two main bus stands
4. Sariska Tiger Reserve:
Sariska National Park is one of the lesser-explored jungles of India. Situated in the western state of Rajasthan, Sariska Tiger Reserve has had a rough history. It was once a hunting ground for the royal families of Alwar, which sadly left the forest with a constantly depleting population of the big cat. It went on to be declared a wildlife reserve in the year 1955 and as a tiger reserve under project Tiger in 1978. Even with their consistent efforts, the government could not stop basic issues of man animal conflict and poaching for illegal trade.
This further depleted the tiger population in Sariska National Park, leaving the forest void of any traces of the big cat in 2004. It was reported that no tigers were sighted in the reserve, and that no indirect evidence of tiger presence was found such as pug marks, scratch marks on trees, scats etc. The Rajasthan Forest Department explained that “the tigers had temporarily migrated outside the reserve and would be back after monsoon season”. These assumptions were further backed by team Project Tiger.
It was only much later in the year 2008, that two tigers were relocated from Ranthambore National Park to help Sariska grow its tiger population. Added to this, another tigress was relocated in the year 2009.
Sariska National Park finally saw a ray of hope with increased tiger numbers. Cubs were spotted soon after in 2012 owing to the successful relocation efforts and consistent vigilance of the forest department. As of 2021, the tiger population is up to a total of 23 in Sariska National Park.
Things to do in Sariska:
Guided Wildlife Safaris
Best time to visit Sariska:
February – April
How to reach Sariska:
- Train: The closest rail head to the park is Alwar at a mere distance of 37 kms from the park.
- Air: The closest Airport is the Jaipur International Airport, which is at a distance of 122 kms from the park. Jaipur has great connectivity with major cities in the country including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad etc.
- Road: Sariska National Park is accessible by road from most of the major cities in India by busses or private cabs:
- Jaipur – Sariska : 110 kms
- Delhi – Sariska : 180 kms
- Agra –Sariska: 250 kms
- Jodhpur – Sariska : 444 kms
- Udaipur – Sariska : 504 kms
5. Tal Chhapar:
Erstwhile hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Bikaner, this Thorny Desert Scrub is now known worldwide as one the best places to see Raptors in India.
Acacia trees and short grasses cover this mostly barren microcosm which teems with life.
Part of the Thar Desert landscape, the sanctuary is a flat saline depression which is known as “Tal” in the local dialect.
Small lakes attract several local and international migrants, which in turn provide for the various raptors for which Tal Chappar is a migratory stop.
The State tree of Rajasthan- the “Khejri” Tree (Prosopis cineraria) is home to the very rare Indian Spotted Creeper, and Indian Spiny Lizards in the thousands occur here, India’s only herbivorous lizard – bringing the multitude of birds as they surface for food and for the warmth of the winter sun.
Almost 300 species of birds have been recorded in this very special region.
Things to do in Tal Chhapar:
Guided Birding Trails
Best time to visit Tal Chhapar:
October to mid-March is a great time to visit.
How to reach Tal Chhapar:
- Air: 04-hour drive from Jaipur Airport – well connected by flight from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata & Bangalore.
- Road:5 hour drive from Bikaner city – a famous tourist destination.
Khichan, an unassuming village in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, has a conservation story that started with one man Mr.Ratan Lal Maloo aka the Bird Man of Khichan who started off by feeding a small number of Pigeons, Sparrows, Peacocks and Palm Squirrels with grain as a family tradition, one day chanced upon a small number of migratory Demoiselle Cranes in the 1970s.
Demoiselle Cranes visit India from colder breeding grounds of high-altitude Mongolia, North China, and Tibet on their annual winter migration to India, and Khichan is now their preferred home where they are welcomed after their long and grueling journey to prepare for the mating season whence they return.
Today, 12000 to 15000 Demoiselle Cranes visit Khichan every year due to the compounding effort of Mr.Maloo, the Jain Community of Khichan and now a worldwide support system to the cause – it has resulted in getting Khichan on the world map for its Demoiselle Crane congregation and spreading of the beautiful grassroots conservation success story which goes with it.
It has been declared a Bird Sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to do in Khichan:
Guided Birding Trails
Best time to visit Khichan:
Though the Demoiselle Cranes have begun visiting from August itself, the largest congregations are seen from the beginning of December to March.
How to reach Khichan:
- Train: The nearest Railway Station is Phalodi which is around 10 km from the Khichan village. Phalodi railway station is well connected with the train routes of the major cities like Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, New Delhi.
- Air: The nearest air head is Jodhpur airport which is 150 km from Khichan Village.
- Road: Phalodi, the closest town from Khichan, is well connected with major cities of Rajasthan.
- Distance from Bikaner to Khichan is around 165 km takes about 4 hrs drive
- Distance from Jaisalmer to Khichan is approximately 170 km takes around 4 hours to drive.
7. Bera Leopard Safari:
Ethereal, they disappear in and out of the thickets like shadows. One needs keen eyes and ears to track down as formidable a predator as a Leopard.
Nevertheless, with our expertise in providing ideal parks and skilled naturalists, your safari tour across the village Bera pays off as you deduce patterns and signs that reveal the ‘rosettes’ of the wild.
The Bera/Jawai region is unique for Leopards as it is an established stronghold for over 50 individuals that reside here. The wildlife here has adapted to live in the proximity of human settlements increasing your chances of seeing some remarkable animals as you take a leopard safari in India through the rocky outback of this village.
Things to do in Bera:
Guided Leopard Safari
Best time to visit Bera:
The best time to visit Bera for a leopard safari in India is September to April.
How to reach Bera:
- Air: The nearest airhead is Udaipur.
Explore the wilderness of this wondrous state with us. Write to our team at [email protected] for a custom wildlife tour package of Rajasthan.