The drive to Ranthambore took us through the countryside on bumpy roads. We were warned that the area is so remote that it would be three hours before our first "comfort" stop unless we wanted to pause behind a bush. But for all the farmers and little towns we passed, it probably didn't feel all that remote; there simply were no big hotels, restaurants, or other facilities for western tourists. This area is quite arid and crops are irrigated with well water. Trucks with giant bags of fodder stacked up high and oozing out the side panels bring feed for the animals since the farmers cannot grow enough of it for their stock here.
The national park used to be the private hunting preserve of the rajah from Jaipur. He built five small lakes on the property which attracted deer and other small animals which attracted the tigers we are here to see. Unfortunately, he had already shot most of them before this became a national park in the 1970's. There are only about 35 tigers here and we came not expecting to see any, but have heard that other groups have had sightings the last few days. We have two game drives tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
I imagined that we would be staying in some sort of lodge like the one at Yellowstone. Instead we are staying in a rajah like palace. It looks like it could be historic, but it was built here less than ten years ago. Our room is huge and we each have a desk to do our computer work and comfy easy chairs - items we don't take for granted after weeks on the road.
We took a jeep into the park for a hike up to the fort. Parts of it have been here for five hundred years. There is also a special temple at the top of the hill - one with a three-eyed Ganesh. It's so special, tons of pilgrims come here to see it. From my perspective it would be much easier just to build another three-eyed temple somewhere easier to get to. But that's just me.
Hardly any pilgrims were around during our hike, a welcome break from the tumult of Pushkar. The air is clean and the sun bright blue with temperatures a bit cool for swimming, but perfect for everything else. Monkeys cavorted around us, checking us out to see it we had brought anything yummy along. Peacock couples strolled around. The males are missing their distinctive tails which fall off during the monsoon, since water logged tails can really slow a guy down. By mating season this spring, they'll be back to their full regalia. The climb was a bit taxing, probably because we have been doing too much sitting in a bus. We were passed by a woman our age reclining in a litter, being carried by four strong men. Now why didn't I think of that?