Ranthambhore is more or less in ruins now, its glorious past notwithstanding. Be it a princes on a hunting expedition, the Bhils and Minas residing on the eastern side of the Aravali, a lunar king, or names like Ranvir, Rantidev, and Ranthambandev, are all linked with its origin says Arun Gaur
RANTHAMBHORE is more or less in ruins now, its glorious past notwithstanding. Be it a princes on a hunting expedition, the Bhils and Minas residing on the eastern side of the Aravali, a lunar king, or names like Ranvir, Rantidev, and Ranthambandev, are all linked with its origin.
Strategically located and camouflaged by this fort cannot be spotted even from close quarters. While its location makes it invincible the serpentine passage that leads to the curtain wall makes it all the more difficult to negotiate. The first defence is erected at a narrow opening in the valley about four kilometres from the fort. A wall with a tower and a gate fills up the gap. A little ahead there was, at one time another similar barrier.
the entrance at the ground level to the fourth gateway in
the curtain-wall the path is once again steep, narrow,
The round balls of Unt kakari with nails jutting out screen the cenotaph of 32 pillars symbolising 32-year reign of the father of king Hamir. And also there are remnants construction work started by Queen Karmawati. One will find today the palace with an underground maze of apartments, the locked factory of arms (where still some cannons, ammunition and twisted ignition threads lie), the pond Padampalla (into which Hamirs daughter jumped when Allauddin barged into the fort), a mosque (built by the Muslims immediately after conquerring the fort), Ganesh, five-foot walls (made to withstand the heavy cannon-shots), and a Shiv temple (where Hamir offered his head).
At the grave-site women prepare dal-batti-churma. Near the fort entrance there is the Jogi Mehal with an ancient banyan tree.
There is a thick jungle all around this fort. We take the route to Singhdvar, Kamcha Kund, Nalghati, Padam Talab, Rajbag, Mallik Talab, Mando and Lakkar.
This region is rich in one or two trees are turning red. The deer making a mating call of the first half of the March, not a warning-indicator of the presence of the big tiger that abounds here.
As per the 1999 census, there are 28 tigers, that include five males and two young ones.
From here one has to strain ones eyes through the thick foliage to discover the fort wall,for it can hardly be seen, though the passage runs very close to its base. Nalghati is a narrow curving ravine. After that come the three ponds.
Though Sariska has its own fascination,an old Kankwari fort, a much more attractive lake before it with thousands of dotting palm trees, Ranthambhore has an advantage of a unique terrain evolved out of the confluence of two ranges, the Aravalli and the Vindhya. At Sariska, the valleys didnt seem to me to be that narrow and khus was not that much in abundance.
The forest officer was kind enough to give me some more details: "Tiger is crucial, because it is at the apex of the foodchain. This implies that conservation of the tiger is the conservation of the eco-system. But once the poaching became regal, the jungle fear diminished. At least there was a psychology of fear that preserved the forests, before it became fashionable to hunt and get oneself snapped alongwith the tiger-trophies."
"When the industrialisation came, wood became a necessity. We were already cutting wood for our fire. But the Britishers were cunning. For their shipping, railway lines and the industries, they needed planks, so, in general, the forests were cut, en masse, and the wood sent out of the countries. Thus the Britishers preserved their own forests, devastating our own. Then it became a hunting ground for Jaipur kings. Tiger became almost extinct. The area due to cutting of trees shrunk. This necessarily curtailed the biosphere which was essential for the preservation of tiger. If tiger declines, it affects the natural cycle. It has already reached a crucial stage. The natural cycle stops." He continues: "In spite of all these mal-factors, we observe, that it is dry deciduous forest, as you must have noticed. It is marked by extreme diversity of vegetation, temperatures and terrain. Here two ranges join, so it has the characteristics of both the systems. It has steep cliffs as well as plateaus at heights. Also long undulating grounds. Grass is predominant here, which feeds the herbivore. This means that preservation of grass is crucial.