Visit temples, walk in the footsteps of ancient kings and spot wildlife at this 1st-century castle looming over the wild landscapes of Ranthambore National Park.
Ranthambore Fort is a colossal citadel set amid the rugged countryside of one of Rajasthan’s biggest national parks. This UNESCO-protected landmark sits on a hilltop and is filled with the history and mysticism of the kings, pilgrims and soldiers who once walked its grounds. Stroll along the overgrown alleys of Ranthambore Fort to discover sacred bathing ghats, chhatris and temples. Climb up onto the ramparts for far-reaching views and wildlife-watching opportunities.
Popular theory suggests that the fort dates back to 944 A.D., when it was built by the Chauhan Rajputs as a tactical location between two old trade routes. During its thousand-year history it has been passed between the Ghurids, the Sultans of Delhi, the Kachwaha Maharajas and the Mughals. Each helped to shape the village-like network of courtyards, gateways, pavilions, paths and staircases that remain today.
Follow the inclined pathway and steps up to the Badal Mahal walls, at the fort’s northern tip. This area presents some of the best panoramas of the complex and encompassing national park. See eagles, falcons, peacocks, vultures and some of the park’s other 250 resident birds. Lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of a majestic tiger as it prowls over the grasslands.
Within the castle are about half a dozen temples, which are frequently visited by pilgrims. Among these are shrines devoted to the Hindu gods Ganesh, Rama and Shiva. There are also Jain temples and an impressive chhatri (dome-shaped pavilion) supported by 32 pillars. Watch as langur monkeys play at the temples and cool off at the bathing ghat. Note the stone sculptures of deities and mythological creatures.
The town of Sawai Madhopur, located 10 miles (17 kilometers) to the west, is the main gateway to the fort. Ride in a shared or private jeep taxi, which operate throughout the day between the town, fort and park.
Visit Ranthambore Fort from sunrise to sunset with free admission. The eastern section of the fort is off-limits due to the presence of free-roaming wild animals.