Let's create a perfect travel blueprint that has love of the thrill involved in waiting for that perfect moment to spot tigers in a dense forest of Ranthambore National Park and a romantic pink and regal grandiose city also known as Jaipur.
Let's start with Ranthambore National Park, which is well-connected with all the major cities in India. The cheapest and convenient way to reach Ranthambore is to take a train to Sawai Madhopur Railway Station. Sawai Madhopur has rail connectivity with major cities. Train connectivity is excellent, and it makes sense to either explore Jaipur and Ranthambore separately as a weekend trip from Mumbai. By train, it will take 12 hrs to 16hrs to reach Sawai Madhopur from Mumbai.
From Mumbai, you can take 12953 August Kranti Raj Express on Friday leaves from Mumbai Central Railway Station at 05:40 PM and will reach Sawai Madhopur Railway Station next day around 06:26 AM.
From Jaipur, you can take 09643 Jaipur Bandra Special Express on Tuesday leaves from Jaipur Railway Station at 11:30 PM and will reach Bandra Terminus next day around 10:00 PM
Alternatively, you can also fly from Jaipur to Mumbai by Go Air 21:45 which will cost you around ₹ 3500, if booked well in advanced.
Pocket-friendly way to reach Jaipur from Ranthambore is by train. The frequency of trains leaving from Ranthambore Railway Station is also good.
Where to Stay?
Ranthambore: Abrar Palace & Jungle Camps are situated in the heart of Ranthambhore. For an excellent experience stay out in a jungle tent. The Abrar Palace & Jungle Camps have all
that you need. You can enjoy a nature walk in the surrounded property have a lemon, Gooseberry (Amla), Guava, teak wood tree and in the evening you can enjoy Rajasthani & Classical folk dance and music show.
Jaipur: Zostel Jaipur centrally located within the walled city at Hawa Mahal and it is close to all the major attractions of Jaipur. The colourful interiors of the hostel mirror the spirit of the city perfectly. The charges for the stay at Zostel are INR 499 per night for a bed in a dormitory. But I prefer to have my own space, so took a private suite which cost me INR 2199 per night.
Day One: What made Ranthambore so famous?
Today this heritage site is a famous vacation spot that pulls in photographers by the plenty. And who has not heard of the jungle safari in Ranthambore? Most of the people think that embarking on a Ranthambore safari is fantastically costly and entirely out of their budget. I can reveal to you that the expense is minimal when compared to the adrenaline-rushing adventure-filled ride you get to have. Going on a safari in the Ranthambore is conceivable on a shoestring spending budget.
From royal hunting ground to secured protected forests, the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan's first Project Tiger Reserve. The place got acclaimed in light of the fact that the royals of Jaipur used to hunt here. Today, the Ranthambore national park is sprawling across a little more than 1300 square kilometres including core and buffer area, because of the inconceivable status of its notable tigers and tiger sightings, the Ranthambore National Park is every wildlife enthusiast's dream come true.
The Ranthambore National Park is well known for tigers whose populace has been hazardously decreasing in recent decades. This place is the breeding ground for the various creatures-the panther, hyena, sloth bear, wild pig etc. No certification that you will see a tiger, however, if you do, you will always remember the excitement.
Ranthambore Jungle Safari
Safari booking at Ranthambhore National Park is controlled by the Dept. of Forest (Govt. of India). As per the current policy 20 jeeps (06 seaters) and 20 canters (20 seaters) are allowed to enter the park per drive (morning and afternoon). I paid around INR 850 per person for a canter and INR 1400 for a jeep through an agent. Of course, the best option would be to book directly online on the Rajasthan govt's wildlife portal http://www.rajasthanwildlife.in
There are 10 different safari zones for tourists inside the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. You can book your safari and choose your preferred safari zone 90 days before date of visit. After 90 days required zones are subject to availability. We found that zone 5 had the best views. Don't even bother getting onto other Buffer zones 6, 7 or 8 as the topography is barren and you will hardly find any animals over there.
Chances of Tiger sightings are higher in Zone 2, 3, 4 & 5. There are two safaris a day and you could choose either. The hotter it gets, the more the sightings so the best time to go is in summer.
And if you're asking me the million-dollar question - did we spot any tigers? Yes; I was lucky to spot is twice in a day.
Ranthambore Fort: World Heritage Site
Ranthambore is a formidable hill fort and has been made more famous by the determination with which it underlined and defended its freedom, even if that meant defying the Empire of Delhi. If Chittod is famous for the valour of Sisodias, it has been the bastion of the Chauhans. It has seen the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan and witnessed the legendary valour of Raja Hammir Dev. Today Ranthambore Fort remains an important historical and religious destination and has been accorded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ranthambore Fort is located on a 700 feet high hill and covers the whole top of the hill. The fortifications are 7 km long and wind around the place like a coiled serpent. All around the fort, there are ruins of old palaces, royal court, temples – some of them still living, houses of the nobles and commoners, cenotaphs, pavilions, offices, barracks, markets and ponds. There is a Ganesh Temple very near to the main gate of the fort, which is frequented by a large number of pilgrims every day.
The fort is not entirely deserted, some locals still seem to be living there, nor is it a living fort like the one in Jaisalmer; it seems to hang onto life with a thin thread. The interiors of the fort are mostly in ruins, barring a few buildings, two ponds, and a few temples which were
abuzz with activity. The gates are majestic though and still stand tall, especially the Haathi Pol (Elephant Gate) and the Naulakha Pol. 32 pillars chhatri, a beautiful cenotaph on one side of the hill. Under the cenotaph, there is a “hidden” Shiva temple, which Raja Hammir used to visit regularly. Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace) is another important building, though in
ruins. You can move around in circles exploring the fort as much as you could with the time you have, and enjoy the panoramic view of the jungles surrounding the fort; it looks really impressive from the top. The view of the Jungle from the top of the Ranthambore Fort was truly captivating. The temple itself is mystifying as it is said the idol emerged from the rocks on its own and is the only idol of Lord Ganesha which has three eyes and is rightfully called the Trinetra Ganesha.
Day Two: Padharo Jaipur
Majestic buildings, tales of heroic battles, resplendent forts and palaces, and multi-faceted characters, Jaipur has long been one of the shiniest cultural jewels in the history of the Indian subcontinent. With friendly people known for their hospitality, Jaipur offers a plethora of options for travellers.
Day Three: Jaipur Exploration
Located just behind the Hawa Mahal are Jaipur’s famous City Palace, the centrepiece of the city and the heart of founder Jai Singh II’s reign. The City Palace includes Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal as well as a number of other structures. Built with highly trained architectural
care. While a part of the palace remains the residence of the royal family of Jaipur even today, visitors have access to other parts of the palace complex. The City Palace also houses a temple and a museum with a fine collection of artefacts.
Timing: 09:30 AM to 05:00 PM & 06:30 PM to 08:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 100 per person and INR 400 per person for Foreigner.
Dating back to the 18th century, Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site and a testimony to the scholarly brilliance of a bygone era. Among the 20 instruments found at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest sundial in the world.
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II not only envisioned and executed the highly organized city of Jaipur, but he was also responsible for the development of five astronomical observatories throughout west-central India. Jantar Mantar is one such observatory located in the heart of Jaipur.
The large-scale geometric formations are the stars of this historical structure, jutting out independently with staircases that lead to nowhere and in what would appear to be a random manner. The observatory is a wonder to architects and artists alike, and today, it is presented to the audience as an all-encompassing experience, complete with time-lapse sequences, drawings and 3D models to showcase this historical site.
Timing: 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 50 per person and INR 200 per person for Foreigner.
Huge Architecture with beautiful paintings and fountain Patrika Gate has become one of the favourites for every photographer's delight. It has become very famous within a very short time as a lot of pre-wedding shoots also happen at this beautiful place. This place is near
Jaipur airport, so the best time to come here is before left Jaipur and go to the airport. There are many people jogging too in the afternoon.
Amer Fort & Palace
Amer Fort is located only about 11 kilometres from the centre of Jaipur. The sand-coloured walls of Amber Fort fade into the surrounding hillside in a nearly perfect disguise. This was the original capital of Rajasthan before Maharaja Jai Singh II relocated during his reign to the City Palace. Constructed using breathtaking red sandstone and marble, this structure was built roughly 200 years before Jaipur was established. Today, you can hop on the back of an elephant decorated in bright colours and patterns. Rajput kings considered elephants their premier symbols of power. These animals have long been revered by locals and are often richly costumed with paints, fabrics, and jewels. You will sway gently in your high perch as your elephant lumbers majestically up the stone walkway to the hilltop’s main entrance. This is arguably the most popular sight in the area surrounding Jaipur, so be prepared to meet people from all over the world.
The charm of Amber Fort is undeniable. Perched on a hilltop, this 15th century fort is impressive –- both in terms of size and architecture. Built using Mughal-style architecture, the golden frontage is complemented by elaborate interiors. The ornate archways lead to expansive chambers, featuring hand-painted and mirror worked ceilings and walls. The fort houses the Diwan-e-Aam, or ‘Hall of Public Audience’, the Diwan-e-Khas, or ‘Hall of Private Audience’, and also the Sheesh Mahal, the ‘Mirror Palace’. The splendour of Amber Fort is heightened during the Light and Sound Show in the evening.
Timing: 08:00 AM to 05:30 PM & 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 100 per person and INR 500 per person for Foreigner.
Sound & Light Show: In English 07:30 PM and In Hindi 08:30 PM
Jaigarh Fort is another very popular destination on the outskirts of Jaipur city. Jaigarh was built in 1726 to protect the city of Jaipur. A true fortress, this fort lacks the intricacies of the fort-palace architecture found elsewhere in Jaipur. Fortunately, this fort never served in any serious conflicts and thus has remained essentially intact in its original structure. It offers visitors a breath-taking view of the surrounding mountainous landscape.
Timing: 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 35 per person and INR 85 per person for Foreigner.
Set on the edge of the Aravalli Hills, Nahargarh Fort is striking in stature. Built as the summer palace for the royal family, the main palace within the fort is known as Madhavendra Bhawan. In addition, there are nine other double-storied living spaces within the fort.
An example of Indo-European architectural style, the royal frescos, and marble engravings can still be seen on the interior walls here. The views of Jaipur city are stunning from Nahargarh Fort since it is perched over a hill overlooking the city. It is also the most popular place in Jaipur to watch a sunrise and sunset. It’s not surprising why it is so.
The sunrise point in Nahargarh Fort is on the east face near the Baori. It is close to the Baori where famous song Masti ki Pathshala from Bollywood movie Rang De Basanti was filmed. It’s known as Rang De Basanti shooting point or location.
Timing: 05:00 AM to 08:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 50 per person and INR 200 per person for Foreigner.
Dinner @ Chokhi Dhani
Chokhi Dhani is a must-visit place when you are in Jaipur. This place gives you feel of a Rajasthan village, here the proper traditional Rajasthani meal is served which includes gatte ki sabji, daal baati, sarso da saag aur makki ki roti, curry, dum aloo, lasaan ki chutney, pudhina ki chutney,sangriya achaar, white butter, khichdi, bajra roti, malpua and churma. The ambience is beautiful and worth praising. Also, there are various activities taking place like folk dance, camel ride, live music, magic show, elephant ride, games, etc. Visit here with an ample amount of time. Must try Traditional Buffet for INR 750.00.
Timing: 06:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Day Four: Jaipur Exploration
Breakfast @ The Tattoo Cafe & Lounge
Hawa Mahal is on view from this chill rooftop cafe with an outdoor seating arrangement and the restaurant serves only veg food. I will mark it 5/5 for location and view. For food and service 4 out 5.
Jaipur’s most iconic landmark, the red and pink sandstone facade of Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds is widely recognized. Within its chambers, hidden from public view, the women of the royal house would secretly observe the activities on the street, through the palace’s latticework openings. A fine example of Mughal architecture, the pyramidal design of Hawa Mahal rises five-storeys from the ground.
Today, the structure still stands as proudly as ever. The landmark “honeycomb” facade reaches five stories high and is made up of 152 windows nestled into rounded latticed balconies, exemplifying the strong yet delicate Rajput architecture in all its splendour. When the sun drops down toward the horizon, a small beam of sunlight can sometimes be seen shining through a top story window. For visitors looking to learn about the history of this building, a visit to the Hawa Mahal Museum, just behind the monument, is a must. It displays relics, artefacts, statues, and other historical memorabilia that commemorate Rajasthan’s royal history.
Timing: 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Entry Ticket: Indian INR 50.00 per person and INR 200.00 per person for Foreigner.
Albert Hall Museum
A royal building, which shows the Indo-Saracen style of structural engineering, Albert Hall is a model of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum houses the unique collection of ancient kinds of stuff like beautiful crafts work, ceramics objects, sketches, models, woodwork, toys, dolls, common history examples, such as Egyptian Mummy and the well known Persian Golden Carpet.
There is a popular gallery in the museum, named as ‘Mehndi Mandana’. This beautiful gallery is completely dedicated to the well-known henna body art of Rajasthan. The unique and classy Rajasthani designs and motifs, which are uniquely considered as traditional throughout the world, are beautifully displayed in this Mehndi Mandana gallery.
In another famous gallery of Albert Hall Museum, one can see the unique puppets and the Phad paintings. Phad paintings are basically the sketches of the life of Pabuji Rathore in painted Scrolls. Pabuji Rathore was the very well known folk hero of Marwar.
Apart from all these galleries, visitors can witness several forms of Rajasthani Music and Dance in the central gallery. This gallery is a must-visit place in the whole museum.
Timing: 09:00 AM to 05:30 PM and 07:00 PM to 09:30 PM
Entry Ticket: Indian INR 40.00 per person and INR 100.00 per person for Foreigner
Shopping - Where & What
Jaipur is one of the most important centres in the world for cutting and polishing precious and semi-precious stones and diamonds. Shop at Bapu Bazaar, Johari Bazaar and Tripolia Bazaar. Beware of the touts and as a rule, quote one-fourth the price being asked. Happy Shopping!
Jal Mahal, a palace half-submerged prettily right in the centre of the Man Sagar Lake on the outskirts of Jaipur. A masterful creation, it is bordered by the Nahargarh Hills. This low rise symmetrical Palace was once a shooting lodge for the Maharajas and now fascinates many visitors from all over the world. Jal Mahal was constructed in the 1750s and was
commissioned by Maharaja Madho Singh. It is indeed one of the most photographed monuments in India. The most striking feature of this palace is that while only one storey that appears above the water level, there are in fact 4 storeys submerged underneath.
It is one of the most beautiful architectural palaces built by combining the Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The entry inside the fort is prohibited, but the view from a considerable distance is enough to mesmerize you. During the evenings, the fort lights up and the reflection of the fort in the lake is absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the sorry state of this structure was worth just a view, nothing more.
Timing: Always Open
Entry Fees: No Entry Fees
Good Bye! Jaipur
The princely nature is integral to this land. It is in the genetic makeup of this place. This is an important part of what makes Jaipur (and Rajasthan) a fascinating experience. It was interesting to hear people still refer to royalty as “Hamare Maharaj” (our king).
It is advisable to book your Ranthambore Jungle Safari in advance.
Avoid Monsoon which is from July to September. It is advised to visit the National Park in October and June to appreciate at the fullest. Summer has been the favourite time for tight sight but heat is tremendous.
Jaipur is a city built around tourism. Especially foreign tourism. One has to be prepared to be pestered by the rickshaw drivers who follow you to the point of stalking.
Consider buying a composite ticket for INR 300.00 (Indian) and INR 1000 (Foreigner), which gives you entry to Amber Fort, Central Museum, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Isarlat and Nahargarh and is valid for two days from the time of purchase. It can be bought from any of the listed sites
Guides can speak foreign languages. They insisted on speaking in English even when we answered back in Hindi. But nobody meant any harm.
Go for light clothing with sun cap or hat sunglasses if you’re going in summer and warmer clothing and thermals if you're going in winter.
For sightseeing, you can book a full-day tour conducted by RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation) for INR 500 per person.
If you wish to do it at your own pace you can hire a bike on rent for INR 600.00 per day, tuk-tuk for Rs. 1000 per day and AC sedan car for INR 1600.00 per day.
Avoid late-night outings as most of the markets shut down by 10:00 PM.