Category Archives: Rajasthan

Rajasthan – The Land of Kings is the largest state of India. The major features include the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilisation; the Dilwara Temples, a Jain pilgrimage site , Mount Abu, in the ancient Aravalli mountain range; the Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur. Rajasthan is also home to three national tiger reserves, the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur, Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar and Mukundra Hill Tiger Reserve in Kota.

Best Places for StarGazing in India

Have you ever slept under an open sky? In my childhood days, we used to sleep on the terrace & I would keep my eyes open for a long time counting the zillions of twinkling stars in the pitch dark sky. When tired, I would stop counting marking the hypothetical spot, thinking to restart back from the same point tomorrow. In between sometimes could spot a shooting star which in the morning we would claim ourselves lucky to see “Tutta Tara” (breaking star). The innocent thought was that one day I will be able to count all of these stars. Crazy! Right! I am still crazy about stargazing. Indeed, now we both are. We love the vastness and grandeur of night sky & have multiple apps like Night Sky lite in our phones for stargazing in India! But why we city dwellers are crazy & can’t see them every day just like before? Where have those days gone now?

The pollution, light spill, clouds, city noise have changed the nature of the skies in cities. Now to have that insignificant feeling of standing or lying under the starry shimmery night i.e. for stargazing in India, we need to get away from our dreary life, we need to travel to the remote places where there are no concrete jungles, where nature is still protected, where there is no pollution, where dark spaces still exist and where the materialism is still far away.

Stars Sites in India

 Gyalwang Drukpa once said “Each of us is connected through the heart to the entire universe – and so if you get into the mind, you will see the universe”.

In this post, we have clubbed some of the best stargazing sites of India as suggested by some of India’s top Travel Bloggers & Photographers.

Best StarGazing sites in India

Starry Nights at Meghalaya

Kongthong

By – Agni & Amrita from Tale of 2 Backpackers

Kongthong in Meghalaya is located about 60km from Shillong in the pristine east Khasi Hills. It is a small village consisting of merely 700 people. The place is extremely peaceful and pleasing to the eyes and is all about nature and gorgeous vistas. Interestingly, the village is also known as the whistling village as each people have a tune to call them apart from their names.

The day ends early for the villagers and they dwell inside their homes, leaving the place dark against the lush landscapes.  The skies are just like a canvas here as it opens up to the vistas of shining stars and constellations at their best.

Kongthong Meghalaya - Star Gazing in India
Kongthong Meghalaya – Star Gazing in India

How to reach: From Shillong, hire sumo to Kongthong. But remember only one sumo runs during the day and it is better to book it in advance. Otherwise, you can hire a car from Shillong or Cherrapunjee to reach Kongthong.

Best Time to visit: From October to April

Places to stay: The only place to stay at Kongthong as of now is Kongthong Travellers Nest.

Galaxy at Karnataka

Stargazing at Kabini

– By Abhishek & Neha from A Revolving Compass.

Kabini, a small village is located by the banks of the River Kabini, just 60 km from Mysore, Karnataka. The place is a forest reserve area and is abundantly rich in wildlife, flora & fauna. It is famous among tourists and travelers not only for wildlife sighting and relaxing holiday but for stargazing too. When the lights are turned off you can see absolutely sky filled with millions of stars, twinkling and smiling at you.

Stargazing in India - Kabini, Karnataka
Stargazing in India – Kabini, Karnataka

How to reach: Kabini can be best reached through self-drive cars or hired taxis from Bangalore, Mysore and other nearby towns.

Best Time to visit: Kabini can be visited throughout the year. For stargazing, summer and winter months are idle, as the sky is clear. For wildlife, observation summer is considered as the best time as due to the low level of waters, animals tend to flock to the river bank for satisfying their thirst.

Places to stay: There are several eco-lodges and resorts around the river bank to stay. We recommend staying with the Peepal Tree Boutique Homestay, which too is located by the banks of the river backwaters. Its vast farmlands are the best places to observe, the beautiful night sky filled with stars.

Shooting Stars at Maharashtra

Lonar Crater Lake

By Tanushree and Yaswanth from UnboundOutbond

Lonar Crater Lake, a National Geo Heritage Monument, is located in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra. Around 52,000 years ago, a hyper-velocity meteor struck the land here, creating a 150 meters deep and nearly 2 kilometers wide crater. And over centuries, a lake (both saline and alkaline) too, is formed here which by itself is a mystery. The dense forest surrounds the crater and is dotted with temples that have a mention in the Ramayana too.

The place has left both the scientists of NASA and Geographical Survey of India intrigued. Also, the Earth’s Magnetic Field seems to be nonfunctional here. Such is the mystery of the Lonar Crater. Lonar Lake sits on a white facade of land. During the day Lake is filled with geologists who wish to study the surface of Mars and at night the stars, the reflection of the moon in the lake is pure bliss and leaves the stargazers completely amazed.

Stargazing at Lonar Crater Lake, Maharashtra
Stargazing at Lonar Crater Lake, Maharashtra

How to reach: Lonar Lake can be reached by private cars and hired taxis or by buses from Aurangabad (4 hours’ drive) via Jalna. Aurangabad is also the nearest airport and has daily flights flying from Delhi and Mumbai. Overnight buses also ply from Mumbai and Pune to Aurangabad. Another option is via rail with plenty of trains plying to Aurangabad from different parts of Maharashtra.

Best Time to visit: Lonar is extremely hot from March to May, which is the summer season in Maharashtra. Rains begin from June on and last till September, which would not be the best time for stargazing as the skies are likely to be filled with clouds. We’d recommend sometime between October to February when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear.

Places to stay: The MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) Holiday Resort is the best choice for stay as it is budget-friendly, is located near to the crater serves decent meals, and has pleasant service.

Stargazing at Thar Desert Rajasthan

Jaisalmer

By Tanayesh form Shoestringtravel & Soujanya Rai from TheSpicyJourney

Jaisalmer, popularly known as the “Golden City” of Rajasthan, is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Quila. The town is a heart of Thar desert and is the most accessible spot for desert camping, jeep safari, camel safari, and stargazing.

Just imagine, lying down on the mattress in the world’s 17 largest deserts, with eyes pointing towards the sky and suddenly spotting multiple shooting stars. Wow!  Interestingly, the vast alluring sand dunes around Jaisalmer, are an ideal spot for Astrophotography and gives the ultimate pictures too.

Star Trails in Jodhpur
Star Trails in Jodhpur

How to reach: The place is well connected by rail, road, and air. There are trains directly from Delhi and other prime places in India. Bus and car facility is also available from Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur directly. However, there is no direct flight to Jaisalmer so the nearest airport is Jodhpur.

Best Time to visit: Ideal time for stargazing is during winters i.e. from October to March, when the temperature lies between 7-8 degrees. We recommending spending at least 2 days in Jaisalmer.

Places to stay: Jaisalmer has beautiful economic hostels, hotels & homestays. My recommendation is Zostel Jaisalmer, located just a kilometer walk from the Jaisalmer Railway station which has a relaxed rooftop café showing the panoramic city view. Another one is Moustache Jaisalmer, a wonderful hostel with all modern facilities available. The Hotel Tokyo Palace Jaisalmer is quite famous for its rooftop restaurant as you get the views of the fort too.

Astrophotography at Jodhpur

-By Mainak Biswas from Places in Pixel

Jodhpur, too set in the stark landscapes of Thar desert is known as the Blue City of India because of the blue-painted houses around Mehrangarh. The city is a cultural treat and has unending charms. It is one of the best places to savor the colors & flavors of Rajasthan and experience camel’s safari .

The nights at Jodhpur are no less than those in Jaisalmer. When you look up, you can see a silver-white sky and if you are lucky you too can capture a star trail with the Mehrangarh Fort as a background.

Star Trails in Jodhpur, India
Stargazing in Jodhpur, India

How to Reach: Jodhpur is well connected by road and rail to all the major cities of India. The city has its own railway station & domestic airport with flights from Delhi, Mumbai, and a few other cities. 

Best Time to visit: The best time to visit Jodhpur is from October to March when the state enjoys pleasant weather and also you get a clear sky for stargazing and astrophotography. In fact, you should plan your Rajasthan trip in a way that you can get the best of the state while keeping the heat aside -the winters.

Sariska

By Kunjal from Unpluggedmoments

Sariska or Sariska Tiger Reserve being a restricted area too falls in the category of best-stargazing sites. Indeed, the reserve zone has India’s first astronomy and adventure camp – Astoport Sariska. This astronomy & camping site is surrounded by Aravalli hills and welcomes stargazers for an incredible experience.

Astroport Sariska is situated barely 5km from Sariska National Park is one of the darkest regions of India far from the bustling city lights. Every night the trained educators along with their telescopes, sky charts, and other special equipment help you navigate the gazillion stars. Sessions on astrophotography are also part of the experience. The place is popular amongst astronomy lovers especially kids as there are other adventure activities like trekking, cycling, sun gazing too available in the day time. 

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How to Reach: Sarika lies 11o Kilometres from Jaipur city & 220 km from Delhi. It can be reached via train, bus, flight till Jaipur, and from there hire a vehicle to reach Sariska. 

Best Time to visit: The best time to visit is Winter months i.e. September to March)as the sky is clear and the weather is cold/pleasant. 

Stargazing in Ladakh

Ladakh is considered as the most incredible place for stargazing due to its high altitude & pollution-free skies, especially when all the mindless, loud music playing tourists goes off to sleep.

Hanle

By Divyakshi Gupta from Quirkywanderer

Hanle, a tiny village at 4500-meter altitude in the Changthang region of Ladakh, close to the Indo-China border is well known for an Indian Astronomical Observatory. It is the world’s highest observatory & is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru. The observatory has an installed telescope of about 2.01 meters (6.5 feet) diameter. 

After what seemed like an endless drive from Pangong Lake, we reached Hanle. We were surprised to see how tiny the village was. A few of my friends even wondered if it was worth spending the night here after that bumpy ride. But the homestay owner told us how epic Hanle is for stargazing and I was all ready to stay up at night. It was freezing cold when we climbed up a ladder to go up to the terrace and then, in the silence of the night, all of us were left spellbound. There were shooting stars every five minutes in the sky and we could see the Milky way from our eyes, without any equipment.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7uwV-6pGy3/

How to reach: Hanle can be reached from Leh as well as Pangong in almost 9 hours by shared cabs or personal vehicle

Best Time to visit: May to September

Places to stay: Multiple Homestays but my recommendation is Padma Homestay

Stok Kangri

-By Umang Trivedi from Travelmax

Stok Kangri, located near the village of Stok can be reached only by trekking. The trek is extremely beautiful, challenging making one really appreciate the beauty of the region. The expedition to the Stok Kangri peak takes you to a height of 20,000 feet if the peak is scaled successfully.

At night, while camping in the open, the sky becomes clear sailcloth with the twinkling stars and enchanting galaxies. Of course, not as clear as the camera can capture! I wish our eyes also had flexible settings of exposure and shutter speed to see this just like a shot.

Star show on Stok Kangri Trek, India
Stargazing on Stok Kangri Trek, India

How to reach: The Stok Kangri trek starts from village Stok. Trek is for 5-7 days depending on how well the trekkers are acclimatizing. In our case, it went on for 6 days. The entire trek is not really around permanent establishments and during winters, nobody treks this route.

Best Time to visit: The best time to go is around June-August. Due to the altitude, the snow accumulates throughout winters and takes a couple of more months to melt. So, by May mid the trek opens up for trekkers to embark on an enthralling journey to Stok Kangri peak.

Places to stay: Throughout the trek, one needs to stay in tents at various campsites.

Shooting Stars at Zanskar Valley

– By Shubham from travelshoebum

Zanskar, a little kingdom in Ladakh lies at an altitude above 3500 meters. It is an extremely remote valley, where the road leading to it is closed for more than 7 months in a year.  Along with the natural beauty, dark nights and minimal pollution makes the place ideal for stargazing.

Shooting stars in Zanskar Valley, India
Shooting stars in Zanskar Valley, India

How to reach: Padum is the district headquarters of Zanskar and can be reached by shared taxis or personal vehicles. The alternate way is via trekking through Lahaul or Ladakh.

Best Time to visit: July to October is considered as the best time to go, when Pensi La road is open and one can travel via Srinagar to Kargil to Padum.

Places to stay: Homestays are available in almost every village in Zanskar. Padum has few guesthouses and hotels too.

Starry Nights in West Bengal

Mousuni Island

-By Ruma Dey from Theholidaystory

Mousuni is a small island near Bakkhali and GangaSagar Island in West Bengal. The beauty of the place lies in the confluence of the Bay of Bengal with the River Bhagirathi and its white beach. The golden sunshine on the sands makes it glisten extremely during the day and on full moon night.

Electricity has not reached the Island yet. So, one can enjoy a stay in the tents just beside the sea beach, laze and do stargazing in the pitch dark sky for hours.

Mousuni Island, West Bengal - Star Gazing site in India
Mousuni Island, West Bengal – Star Gazing site in India

How to reach: For Mousuni island you have to first reach Namkhana railway station from Sealdah. It is 3 hours of a local train journey. After getting down to the Sashmol bus stop only 7 km from Namkhana station. From there cross the Chinai river and take a Toto car to reach Mousuni island. The bus service is available from Dharmatala / Espnalade Kolkata area.

Best Time to visit:  October to March is the best time to visit Mousuni island.

Places to stay: There are multiple Eco tourism camps and mud houses on the Island

Buxa-Jayanti

By Trijit Mallick from BudgetTravelBuff

Buxa Jayanti is located in the eastern part of Dooars in West Bengal. Buxa is famous for the Buxa Tiger Reserve where Jayanti is a forest village inside the reserve, blessed with a lush green tea garden, beautiful hills, and mountain rivers. It is located along the Jayanti River, forming a natural border with the Bhutan hills. So, being a completely reserved area, it is pollution-free and makes up for an ideal destination for stargazing in India.

How to reach: Alipurduar Junction railway station is the closest station to Jayanti. Kanchankanya Express is the best option to reach Alipurduar if you come from Kolkata, else you have to board on a train that goes to New Jalpaiguri (NJP). NJP is well connected with Jayanti by road.

Best Time to visit:  November to March is the best time to visit Buxa-Jayanti. Especially in December month, this place is perfect for wildlife photography and jungle safari. The average temperature remains between 10 to 22 degrees centigrade during this time.

Places to stay: There are several private and government-run lodges in the area. I will recommend you to stay in Jayanti River View Homestay which is situated just beside the Jayanti river. It is quite reasonable (INR 1100/-) & also offers stunning views of the Jayanti river bed with Jayanti hills in the background.

Shooting Stars & Meteor Show in Himachal

Chail

By Sundeep Bedabrata from Delhifundos

Chail, an offbeat spot in Himachal Pradesh is known for its salubrious beauty and virgin Pine Deodar forests. It is an ideal place to relax, engulf in nature, take long walks, and enjoy slow travel.

At night, the sky here can leave one spellbound. It just looks like a dark blue sequined fabric in which one could identify a couple of popular constellations. The place is perfect for night walks, camping & stargazing in India. Along with it one can also witness, thousands of fireflies in the night when all the lights are turned off.

Night at Chail, Himachal India
Stargazing in India – at Chail, Himachal

How to reach: Chail lies 106 Kilometers from Chandigarh and 336 Kilometres from Delhi. It can be reached via public bus, shared cabs or personal cars from Chandigarh.

Best Time to visit:  Chail can be visited throughout the year but for best stargazing experience visit it during summers or winters, when the sky is clear.

Places to stay: The HPTDC hotel is the most sought after accommodation here but because one needs prior booking. Another option is Sunrise Homestay which too is quite cozy and affordable. Apart from all this, for a wonderful stargazing experience in India, one can opt for camping too.

Stargazing at Spiti Valley

-By Samantha from Intentionaldetours

Just like Ladakh, Spiti Valley too is known as one of the best places for stargazing in India.  The high-altitude, desert-scape of Spiti, Himachal Pradesh has very little pollution and plenty of elevation, making its skies light up with stars on clear nights. Though stars are visible in all of Spiti, the villages of Dhankar, Nako, Tabo, Langza, Hikkim, Chicham Khas, Komic, Tashi Gang tend to offer exceptional views. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-uuBAxpa5o/

How to reach: To get to the Valley, one can take a self-drive Spiti valley road trip (beware of narrow scary mountain roads!) or take public transport, the latter of which gets crowded during peak season. Though the valley can be entered from either the Manali side or the Reckong Peo side, it’s easier to acclimate to the altitude if you enter from Reckong Peo. Buses are very easy to catch from either New Delhi or Chandigarh

Best Time to visit: If you want to be somewhat comfortable, plan your Spiti Valley itinerary in either May-June or  September. July and August tend to see more rain and the rest of the year is way too cold to even enjoy what you’re seeing!

Places to stay: In Dhankar, the Bendurya Hotel is a super comfy yet affordable stay with an epic view of both the sky and the village. Dhankar is also home to a beautiful lake with a great camping spot- perfect for stargazing. For Langza & Tashigang, you can stay at homestays in the villages itself or in Kaza.

Stargazing at Andamans and Nicobar Island

Neil Island

-By Debjani Lahiri from thevagabong

Many of us like to count on the famous mountainous regions of Ladakh, Spiti, or somewhere isolated regions of Uttarakhand for stargazing because of high altitude & the idea of pollution-free clearer skies. But, the idea of stargazing by a peaceful beach beside the vast ocean could be one of the most exhilarating experiences too. And, for it there is no other place better than Neil Island in Andamans and Nicobar regions.

Andaman and Nicobar are blessed with pristine beaches, azure blue waters, and unadulterated clear skies, which gives a brilliant opportunity to stargaze at night. Neil Island is one of the famous and the most popular ones and has got three beaches mainly Bharatpur Beach, Sitapur Beach, and Lakshmanpur Beach. Out of which, Lakshmanpur beach is the most secluded one and has a long secluded shoreline. Hence, on a clear night, imagine a scene of countless stars shimmering in the sky with dozens of hermit crabs crawling underneath with sounds of waves crashing on the shores. The view and the feeling both are beyond mystical.

Stargazing in India – Andaman Nicobar

How to Reach: Port Blair (capital of Andaman and Nicobar Island) is well connected with major airports of India. From Port Blair, daily private and government ferries run between the islands. Just one has to check the exact timings.

Best Time to visit: Between Nov-Feb (Winter season have clearer sky)

Places to stay: There are a couple of luxury and as well as budget stay options in the Neil Islands. Sea Shell Samsara (Luxury) hotel, Coconhuts Beach Resort (Budget category)

Starry Nights at Gujarat

Rann of Kutch

-By Bhushavali from TravelBhushavali

Dholavira, located on the Tropic of Cancer in Kutch District of Gujarat is locally known as Kotada Timba. The site contains the ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. Just 40km from Dholavira, on the other side of the Rann of Kutch is Pakistan.

While the whole of Rann of Kutch itself is an amazing place to stargaze but Dholavira is just the perfect destination. The night sky is just excellent here. It is the sky, I saw years back when I was a little kid, along with my grandfather; when The Hindu, newspaper had the monthly Night Sky section which we would cut out and figure-out the constellations using it! We could see the gazillion stars of the night sky

Galaxy in Kutch , India
Stargazing in India – At Kutch

How to reach: Dholavira is well connected to the rest of India by roadways. Regular bus services ply to and fro the city of Dholavira. From Radhanpur the distance to Dholavira is about 200km, which goes across the incredible white sands of the Rann of Kutch. There is no direct flight or rail connectivity to Dholavira. Nearest airport and railway station at Bhuj.

Best Time to Visit: Winter season is the ideal season i.e. from October – March. Monsoon is not an ideal time for stargazing.  Summers are hot and are the least advisable time for a visit.

Places to stay: The best place to stay in Dholavira is the Govt guesthouses of either the tourism department or the forest department. In either case it is in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no light or air or sound pollution which makes the sky crystal clear. In fact, Dholavira is a tiny island surrounded by the Rann of Kutch.

Shooting Stars in Uttarakhand

Binsar

Binsar, a small scenic valley, sits on the top of Jhandi Dhar Hills, at an altitude 2412 meters in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas. In 1988 Binsar became a Binsar wildlife sanctuary, to conserve and preserve the shrinking broad oak leaf forests of the Himalayan region. Today, it is spread over 46km2 and is highly rich in flora and fauna. From here, the complete 300 km stretch of famous peaks like Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Panchchuli are visible on clear days and nights are dark, clear and make up an ideal destination for stargazing.

Being a reserved area, lights are turned off by 9:00 pm and the pitch dark sky is just illuminated with the shimmering stars. After adjusting your eyes, you get to witness some of the shooting stars and constellations too. The sky amidst the tall conifer and oak trees is a sight to admire for.

Stars in Uttarakhand, India

How to reach: Binsar lies 23 Kilometers from Almora, 88 kilometers from Nainital in Uttarakhand. It is well connected by road, rail or by air. The nearest airport to Binsar is at Pantnagar (140 km from Binsar) whereas the nearest railway station is at Kathgodam (105 km from Binsar). The further journey from both Pantnagar and Kathgodam stations can be covered by bus or cabs.

Best Time to visit: Summer & winter is an ideal time to enjoy stargazing. In monsoons it’s mostly cloudy.

Places to stay: There are plenty of resorts, hotels, and guest houses in Almora, Kasar Devi, and outside the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. But within the sanctuary, there are limited options, which varies from heritage luxury homestays to resorts to Government guest house i.e. KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam). Our recommendation is KMVN, which has a huge terrace and is a perfect spot for stargazing in India.

All about Jungle Safari at Ranthambore National Park

It was 2:00 pm, our guide called our names and we ran to find the perfect seat in the canter. There was some different sort of enthusiasm for the Jungle Safari in tiger rich Ranthambore National Park despite the one we had done earlier at Sariska National Park.

Our guide checked our ID’s and in minutes we had hit the road & our canter started swaying on the laden paths of Ranthambore. Just a few Kilometers ahead from the registration counter, and we entered the enclosed Jogi Mahal Gate and then an old gate decorated with one of the oldest Banyan trees for Zone 3. On one side stood the grand Ranthambore fort whereas on another side the crazy enclosed wild world. My eyes were transfixed to the door. It looked extremely magical. Indeed, Tashi was mocking that have you got some binocular power and will trace the tiger from far in the jungle.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8RSSU7nOni/

From there on our canter started noodling on the dusty narrow roads and guide took his position to be in action. And in the next 5 minutes, he noticed some animal sitting in the old structure. Stop there, he said and everybody in the canter started gazing in the pointed finger direction without blinking. In the bold tone he continued, look there – There is something. Oh really, What? Everybody stood up and started moving here and there to find is it Jungle King or Queen in its natural habitat. It was far from us and completely camouflaged, but did it came out to break our suspense?  Could we find what it was? Wait to know the complete story! And before that, let’s learn a little about Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and the jungle safari there.

About Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore national park lies near Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, North India, between the Aravalli and Vindhyan Mountain Range. It has got its name from the Ranthambore Fort located within the jungle. The national park was initially spread over 282 km2 but today it covers an area of 1334 km2. In the year 1955, it was just a hunting ground for the Jaipur Royals and today after all the measures it is one of the biggest national parks in the world with numerous types of species, flora and fauna.

Entry to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, India
Entry to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, India

Looking at its history year wise

  • 1955– Established as Sawai Madhopur Gaming Sanctuary by Government of India (GOI)
  • 1973 – Declared as the Project Tiger Reserve
  • 1 Nov 1980 – Became Ranthambore National Park
  • 1984 – Adjacent Forests were declared – Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary
  • 1992 – Tiger Reserve was expanded. The adjoining Keladevi Sanctuary was merged in the north and Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary in the south. And the total area became 1334 km2.

Today the Ranthambore Park is divided into 10 zones where the Zone 1-6 are designated as the “core zones” and zone 7-10 are known as the “buffer zones“, and note that all zones have tigers.

Ranthambore forest is highly rich in flora and fauna. The vegetation here is almost dry deciduous type, because of the scanty rainfalls. Dhok’ (Anogeissus pendula) is the most prominent tree in the forest and it constitutes about 80% of the vegetation here. Apart this, there are several medicinal plants (like Neem (Azadirachta Indica), Babul (Acacia Nilotica), Gum (Sterculia Urens), Kadam (Authocephalus Cadamba), Khajur (Phoenix Sylvestris), Khair (Acacia catechu) and fruit trees (like Mango, Jamun, Ber, Tamarind, etc) in the forest. Also, the national park is home to the oldest Banyan trees.

Flora of Ranthambore Forest
Flora of Ranthambore Forest

The unique climate and vegetation of the reserve area makes it an ideal place for wildlife too and one can get to see here tigers (almost 72 in total park), leopards (3-4 times the no. of tigers), fishing cat, sloth bear, striped hyena, jackal, sambhar, spotted deer, crocodile, serpent eagles and variety of birds.

Facts About Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

  • The Ranthambore Park was once a hunting ground for royals
  • It is a home to world-famous Machli Tiger also known as the most photographed tigress in the world, Tigress of Ranthambore, Lady of Lakes & a crocodile killer.
  • Today the tiger reserve has almost 72 tigers here including the cubs
  • T 84 Tigress also known as arrowhead is the granddaughter of Machli and is exactly like her
  • Tigers are territorial. A tigress needs an area of almost 20 Km2 whereas a dominant male needs up to 50 km2 or more. Male Tiger never shares his territory, indeed overlaps females territory

Where is Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore lies at a distance of 14 Kilometers from Sawai Madhopur, 192 Kilometers from Jaipur, 142 Kms from Bhangarh, 166 kilometers from Sariska Tiger Reserve, 255 Kilometers from Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan.

How to Reach Ranthambore from Delhi?

The Ranthambore lies at a distance of 403 Kilometers from Delhi and 393 kilometers from Noida. It can be reached via car, bus, rail or air. The nearest railway station is at Sawai Madhopur and the nearest airport is Sanganer Airport at Jaipur. Further from Jaipur one can opt for frequently running cars, bus or rail services.

We, AllGudThings opted to go by car from Noida and came back via Delhi. So, the route was-

From Delhi (403 Kms)– Delhi – Gurugram –Bhiwadi – Neemrana – Kotputli – Dausa – Lalsot – Sawai Madhopur

From Noida (393 Kms) – Noida – Vrindavan- Mathura – Bharatpur – Bayana– Hindaun – Gangapur – Sawai Madhopur

Road Conditions

From Noida, it is all a multilane expressway journey except few bad patches between Bharatpur and Hindaun. There are multiple tolls in between, almost all charging between Rs. 40 –Rs. 60/-. The important point to remember is not to throw the toll slip beyond Bharatpur otherwise you need to pay the complete amount, as we did. The other route via Gurugram too is a highway and expects a rush beyond Bhiwadi.

Road to Ranthambore National Park from Jaipur
Road to Ranthambore National Park from Jaipur

Best Season to visit Ranthambore National Park

The best season to visit Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is from October to April. After that the temperature starts soaring in Rajasthan; going between 45 to 50 degrees Celsius. The Park closes down in monsoon i.e. from July to September, as this is considered as the mating time for tigers.

Expected Temperatures

In the month of October – November expect the temperatures between 20 -34 degrees Celsius whereas from December to February it lies between 10- 25 degrees Celsius. In March – April temperatures go high till 35-36 degrees Celsius whereas after that the highest temperature can be above 40 degrees Celsius.

Types of Safaris in Ranthambore National Park

There are four types of Safari options in the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

  • Morning Shift Safari (3:30 hrs.)
  • Evening Shift Safari (3:30 hrs.)
  • Half-Day Safari (6:00 hrs. in the morning or evening shift)
  • Full-Day Safari (12 hrs.)

The Morning and evening shift safari can be done via 6 seater gypsy or 20 seater canter. Both the vehicles are open from all sides for the best views. Whereas the half-day and full-day safari can only be done through gypsy.

Ranthambore Safari in Gypsy

Note: All the vehicles are available on a sharing basis as well as per individual or group basis. If you book for individual/ group, then also you need to pay for a whole canter or gypsy.

How to Book Safari at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve?

Ranthambore Safari Ticket or Pass can be booked online via a government portal or several private operators, local safari service booking operators, hotels or directly at the safari registration counter.

Online Bookings

The booking can be done by simply filling the details on the government website portal –  or other private operator websites. The simple Details required are Zone (Choose between 1-6 or 7-10), type of vehicle, traveler details, and I – Card details.

We tried the process on both government & private websites and found that the process of booking on the government portal is much more cumbersome but quite cheaper too. Approx. the cost on government portal for morning/evening shift canter comes between Rs. 600-650/- per person whereas the private player’s charge around Rs. 1400/-. and for full-day comes around Rs. 7500/- per person, whereas the private player charges around Rs. 15,000/-.  Also, on all the tried websites, the gypsy option seems not available. On enquiring the same we got to know, that people book Ranthambore Safari in advance and most of them choose for Gypsy.

Process for Booking on Rajasthan Government Portal

  • Open Forest Department, Govt. of Rajasthan website
  • From the top, make an SSO login
  • Enter SSO ID, password and captcha. If you haven’t registered like us earlier, register via Facebook or google
  • After login go to the Forest & Wildlife application
  • From there select the one you are looking at – Advanced Wildlife Booking, Current Wildlife Booking, Half Day / Full Day Current or Advanced Wildlife Booking or Tatkal booking
  • Enter the place, zone, date and passenger details covering name, gender, nationality, Identity card details and the no of cameras he/she is carrying
  • Enter the Captcha and proceed to payment details
  • Print your e-ticket with the download option

Note:

  • The current booking window is open from 10:00 am. Morning shift booking closes at 6:00 am and evening shift booking close at 03:00 pm
  • The Half/full day booking window is available from 10:00 am to 06:00 pm for next day half day /full day booking
  • User can’t book a ticket again for the same day with the same SSO Id, same zone, same date, and same IP address
  • Advance Tickets– Users can book safari tickets in advance for 365 days, from the date of booking
  • Passes of the full day/half day bookings are issued from 5:00 pm -8:00 pm on the previous day of the visit day or from 06:00 am to 01:00 pm of the visit day from the booking counter
  • The Tatkal booking quota opens 7 days prior to the date of visit and it fills on the first come first basis
  • Do remember to carry your I- cards or a picture of the same in your phone
  • For any query or help in booking, you can connect at- helpdesk.fmdss@rajasthan.gov.in

Cancellation of Advanced Wildlife Tickets

All types of Advanced, half-day / full-day wildlife tickets can be canceled within the time frame.

Cancellation From Date of visit Refund Amount
271 or more days 75%
181-270 days 50%
90-180 days 25%
Less than 90 days 0%

Safari Registration Counter, Ranthambore National Park

For booking safari at the registration counter be ready to stand in a queue in the afternoon and get up early for the morning shifts. Also, the chances of getting pass purely work on first come first served.

Registration Counter for Safari at Ranthambore National Park
Registration Counter for Safari at Ranthambore National Park

There are fixed operational timings and the schedule for it vary according to the months.

Month Morning Shift Evening Shift
October 5:00 am – 6:30 am 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
November – Dec- January 5:30 am – 7:00 am 12:20 pm – 2:00 pm
February – March 5:00 am – 6:30 am 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
April – June 4:30 am – 6:00 am 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Through Hotel / Safari Operators

The easiest option for current booking is through hotel staff or safari operators. They definitely charge you somewhat more amount but also helps on the time. For booking via them, remember to carry your I – card & Photograph.

We booked all our safaris through hotel staff by just handing them documents, cash and telling them the preferable zones. For Canter Safari we paid Rs. 1000/- each whereas for Gypsy safari we paid Rs. 1500/- each.

Cost for Ranthambore Safari

The cost for a safari in the Ranthambore national park varies according to the type of chosen safari, vehicle and from where you have got it booked. Sometimes, it may vary with the zone too, which means the prices quoted for zone 1-6 can be higher than zone 7-10 whereas there is no discrimination on govt. portal and at the registration counter.

Type Vehicle On Govt. Portal (per person per seat) Private Portals (per person per seat) Registration Counter (per person per seat) By Hotels / Safari Tour operators (per person per seat)
Indian Foreigners Indian Foreigners Indian Foreigners Indian Foreigners
Morning / Evening Shift Safari Canter Rs. 600- 650/- Rs. 1400- 1500/- Rs. 1200/- 1400/- Rs. 2000-2500/- Rs. 500- 600/- Rs. 1000 – 1200/- Rs. 1000- 1200/-  
Gypsy Rs. 1000- 1100/- Rs. 1800- 2000/- Rs. 1600/- 1800/- Rs. 2500-3000/- Rs. 800- 900/- Rs. 1800- 2000/- Rs. 1500- 1600/-  
Half Day Safari Gypsy Rs. 3300/- Rs. 4400         Rs. 40,000 – 50,000/- Rs. 50,000 – 60,000/-
Full Day Safari Gypsy Rs. 6600/- Rs. 8800         Rs. 50,000 – 60,000/- Rs. 70,000 – 75,000/-

Note – The pricing mentioned above also includes the vehicle and guide cost. Do check the same with safari operators and hotels.

Timings for Jungle Safari in Ranthambore

At Ranthambore, Jungle safari takes place in two slots i.e. Morning and evening. But the timings vary every month acc. to sunrise and sunset. Apart from this, there are other options of a full day and half-day safari, mostly booked by photographers, wildlife enthusiasts.

Month Morning Timing Evening Timing
1st Oct -31st Oct 7:00- 10:30 am 2:30 – 6:00 pm
1st  Nov – 31st Jan 7:00- 10:30 am 2:00 – 5:30 pm
1st  Feb – 31st March 6:30- 10:00 am 2:30 – 6:00 pm
1st  April -15th May 6:00- 09:30 am 3:00 – 6:30 pm
16th  May – 30th June 6:00- 09:30 am 3:30 – 7:00 pm

Note: If you have got your bookings done by the hotel, the designated canter / Jeep will pick you almost 15 -20 minutes’ prior the slot, from your hotel premises and the hotel will guide you to be ready half an hour before the slot.

Continuing the Afternoon Jungle Safari Story … Did we see what it was?

Not 1, but 20 of the gazes were still fixed in the pointed direction and one after another gypsies and canters started queuing behind us. They too started questioning our guide what it is- he said something in code words and then someone from the public said stripped big cat – Tiger or the spotted cat- leopard. Lined up vehicles no. kept growing from 2-3 to 6-7 and it looked no less than a traffic jam.

Vehicles were still on halt. Meanwhile, many people started climbing on their seats, took out their binoculars and zoom lenses to click from various angles, to find out what it is. Even we followed the league and kept howling from one seat to another in the canter like a monkey to get click to find what it is. Vehicles started pouring from another side too and we were instructed to move and we had too. Our guide instructed us to settle and we showed him the picture to find out the truth and imagine what it was – the spotted beast – Leopard. It clearly looked like a good start for the day but fingers were still crossed.

A few meters ahead, there was a small bridge. On one side of it was a river crossing and on another side stood a huge Padam Talao/ Talab with the ancient structure in-between. The structure looked almost submerged and in ruins. Our guide was still instructing our driver to slow down and us to be quiet and there he pointed out towards the river stream.

Padam Talao in Ranthambore National Park
Padam Talao in Ranthambore National Park

The striped cat was lazing down without moving. Our driver instructed us all to see it quietly, explaining that it is a cub (daughter) of T-84 arrowhead tigress. We all started waiting there patiently to see her moving. Her face was still not visible clearly, and our driver decided to do some off-roading to take the vehicle on the opposite side for a better view.

Striped Cat -Tiger lazing around the stream in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

From the other side, she was hardly visible. Our guide still instructed us to be patient and there she was standing, camouflaging among the bushes proudly. Here too, the vehicles had jammed the whole area but cub looked extremely fierce less.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8gi5gGnuxV/

OMG! and behind it came the second one in no time. What a perfect view! Both the cubs of T-84 smiling and looking at each other. Incredible. The scene continued for almost 10 minutes and then one of them took a U-turn back to the bushes.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8ta-LFH8ep/

Another one crossed the stream, passed from the vehicles standing all around, jumped on the stone plinth, glistening in the sun, giving the perfect possess for the camera and then camouflaged back to the tall yellowish golden grass.

Tigress crossing the stream at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

We still waited for the other cub to cross but it didn’t and then finally our guide decided to move. From there, he further decided to circumambulate around the Padam Talao and there we saw the spotted deer’s munching on the Dhok trees (Anogeissus pendula). The Spotted Deer’s were completely camouflaged in between the golden trees and golden trails, completely unaware of the passing vehicles.

Spotted Deer around Padam Talao in Ranthambore Forest

Further ahead the masque languor’s were howling in between the road in joyful mode. From there we kept circumvallating around the lake and moved on another ahead, finding the crocodiles basking in the sun and near it were a peacock, peahens and other fauna.

Crocodile at Ranthambore National Park
Crocodile at Ranthambore National Park

The clock was ticking and the safari time of 3:30 hrs. was going to end soon. So, the driver pushed the vehicle and we were back at the entrance door, hidden behind the huge Banyan tree.

Entry Exit Gate to Zone 3 at Ranthambore National Park
Entry-Exit Gate to Zone 3 at Ranthambore National Park

Exit the gate and you can use the washrooms at Jogi Mahal Gate. Sun was almost going to set but the desire to see the Tigers didn’t end there. We wanted to see the Ranthambore jungle and its terrain more. So, after coming back to our hotel, we asked for another day morning safari and luckily we got the gypsy for Zone 2. The hotel instructed us to be ready by 6:30 am as the vehicle can come and pick us anytime between 6:30 am – 7:00 am.

Jogi Mahal Gate at Ranthambore National Park

Morning Jungle Safari at Ranthambore National Park

After quick tea and biscuits, we were ready to jump into our gypsy. A similar process followed here too. The guide checked our I – cards with the details and we were set to go. He got the entry done at the registration counter while our gypsy friends brought the goodies from vendors selling hats, caps, face masks and jackets for safari. In 5 minutes, he was back and we entered the first gate.

Ranthambore Fort Inside Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore Fort Inside Ranthambore National Park

The road from this gate goes till Ranthambore Fort and even private vehicles are allowed till here. Further from there we again crossed the huge banyan tree and entered the allotted zone 2. We saw people walking inside zone 2 and got highly surprised how? There our guide narrated us the story behind the day –Chauth.

Story Behind the Chauth Parikrama- Trinetar Ganesh Temple

He told us that inside the Ranthambore fort, lies centuries-old Trinetar Ganesh Temple. On every Chauth (i.e. the fourth day of the month of Lunar Hindu Calendar), there is a tradition of circumambulating around the temple. And as the temple lies on the cliff, devotees complete the parikrama i.e. circumambulation (about 7 kilometers) by walking along with the fort in zone 2. We were extremely shocked to hear that – as this zone too had enough wild animals including leopards, tigers, jackals, etc.  but as it is said everything fails and nothing comes in the path of devotion.

Devotees walking barefoot in Zone 2 of Ranthambore National Park on Chauth
Devotees walking barefoot in Zone 2 of Ranthambore National Park on Chauth

Interestingly, this temple has its own address and daily postal service. Lord Ganesha receives thousands of wedding invitations and letters every day from the devotees of the region and the priest reads all of them to Lord Ganesha.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8bcZujH6GS/

Further, we kept moving on the track of Zone 2 and it was time for sunrise. The sky was on fire and everything looks well painted in orange-gold. We noticed we were almost on the opposite side of the location, where we had seen T-84 cubs yesterday and there we heard a loud Call. The guide said probably it is of a Tiger. He asked the driver to halt and started looking all around with the telescopic eyes. Simultaneously we crossed our fingers, wished ourselves luck to see another one. 5 minutes passed to 15 minutes and a group of people started pouring on this track too and the chances of him coming out almost went to zero.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8Jk3ZFnHp3/

With a bit disappointed heart, we moved ahead on a different track where there will be no devotees. And from here the jungle looked extremely different. Sunrays had already painted it in golden hues. Nilgai/ Blue Bull was standing in between the trees, looking for the food.

A few meters ahead, on one side we saw a herd of spotted deer/ Chital – some were hovering over the bushes, whereas others were digging the soil. There we learned something new from our guide that they too eat soil like the human kids. On another end, the herd of Sambhars was moving in a line towards the pond to quench their thirst. And Peacocks, peahens too had come out and started making noises to communicate with each other.

Spotted Deer in Ranthambore

From here we reached towards Malik Tallao in search of Tiger and found several other gypsies and canters basking under the sun, looking for him just like us. Overall, it seemed like an unfavorable day for Zone 2 tourists. And on deep discussions with the guide, found that on Chauth when there is a huge tourist influx you hardly find any tourists, then why the authorities issue passes for Zone 2? Just to earn money!

Gypsy in Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Apart from wildlife, Ranthambore National Park too has a variety of bird species. The common ones to spot are cuckoos, Rufus treepie, woodpeckers, eagles, mynas, flamingos, sparrows, kingfisher, etc. We too spotted baby owls there.

Owlets in Ranthambore Forest
Owlets in Ranthambore Forest

What all to carry for Ranthambore Jungle Safari?

In Rajasthan, morning and evenings are cold and the days are really warm in winters and hot in summers. So, you need to dress accordingly. For morning safari in winters, do wear inners, jackets, and caps and for afternoon safari a single sweater with thin jackets is enough.

Also carry along a shawl/ scarf, hat/ cap, and goggles as the trails are really dusty. The following accessories will protect you from the cold in the winters and from the heat in the summers. And to stay hydrated carry a water bottle too.

Note: Please don’t litter in the jungle and bring back your bottles.

Overall Safari Experience at Ranthambore

The Ranthambore National Park is every wildlife and bird watchers & photographers’ dream place. There is plenty of flora and fauna here including tigers and leopards. Indeed, every zone has 2-3 tigers including cubs. Wildlife here seems to be quite accustomed to the gypsies, canters, and travelers. They cross quite confidently and give wonderful poses even when the gypsies are around it.

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

We advise you to do at least 2 safaris here- preferably one in the morning and other in the evening. The jungle is really a wonderland and is blessed with amazing topography, shrubby vegetation, hilly terrain, arid land, and water bodies. Most importantly don’t go with the hope to see the tiger only. There is plenty to see here. Also before booking for Zone 2 safari, check for chauth, as the chances of sighting wildlife during this time are almost zero.

Accommodation at Ranthambore National Park

The nearest you can stay in the Ranthambore national park is at Sawai Madhopur. And here are plenty of stay options – from budgeted hotels to resorts to luxurious ones.

Being random planners, we had no prior booking. And planned to check the availability first at RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Development Cooperation) heritage hotel, Jhoomar Baori. The hotel looked situated on the hilltop and quite nice in the google pictures but in actual it was too dingy and smelly and not worth Rs. 6000/- per night. So, we started searching for the private ones and found the Fern Residency just near to it.

The Fern Residency Resort at Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore
The Fern Residency Resort at Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore

Hotel Fern Residency in Ranthambore is situated on the main road and is a beautiful property. Their all cottages are similar and are absolutely neat, clean and spacious. Staff is highly helpful, courteous and prompt to serve you tea/ coffee before morning safari. We absolutely loved their hospitality and the way they arranged our safari.

Other Places to visit in Ranthambore

Apart from Safari, the other attractions of Ranthambore are

Ranthambore Fort Complex

The Ranthambore Fort lies within the National Park and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is an almost 1000-year-old fort and a huge complex. From the fort, you get an amazing view of Padam Talao and Jogi Mahal. Also inside are present Bates Khamba, known for 32 pillars, Jain Temple, Rani Haveli, and Ganesh Temple.

Ganesha Temple

The Ganesha Temple is also known as Trinetra Ganesha Temple. It was built in 1300 AD by King Hammer who was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesh. One night when he was sleeping, Lord came in his dreams and blessed him, quoting that all his problems will be solved and the war with Alauddin Khilji will be over tomorrow. The next morning an idol of Lord Ganesha was seen on the wall. So, King Hammer got the temple built here and it has the idols of Lord Ganesh, Riddhi Siddhi (his wife) and two sons (Shub Labh) along with mushak (mouse, his vehicle).

Palighat Gharial Sanctuary / National Chambal Sanctuary

The sanctuary lies 35 kilometers from the main city and is a breeding ground for Gharials and crocodiles.

All About Jungle Safari at Ranthambore National Park

Village Women Craft

At village women, craft one can find and buy the local craft and artwork created by the village women of Ranthambore. These women use natural dyes and environmentally friendly material for fabrics. The patchwork, tie & die, block-printing, woodwork and handloom are the major attractions here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How to book for Ranthambore Safari?

A. You can book it online as well as offline. We have explained all the options with pricing in detail.

Q. What is the best time to visit Ranthambore?

A. October to March is considered as the best time to visit.

Q. Which Zone is best for Tiger Spotting?

A. Ranthambore Park has 10 zones and all zones have tigers. Still, the locals say Zone 1-6 are considered as the best zones.

Q. How early I need to book a safari?

A. Ranthambore Safari can be booked 365 days prior to the day of the visit.

Q. Can I book it online on the same day?

A. You can definitely try. But the chances of getting gypsy are almost zero.

Q. Can I choose the Safari Zone in Ranthambore national park as per my preference?

A. You can only choose the zone as per your preference, one year prior to the trip.

Q. Can we take our cars inside Ranthambore National Park?

A. Cars are allowed only up to the entry gate i.e. till Ranthambore Fort.

Q. Are still and video cameras allowed inside the park and do one need to pay extra for it?

A. One doesn’t need to pay extra for still cameras but yes there are extra charges for videography cameras.

Q. Is Safari safe for Adults & Children

A. Ranthambore Safari is safe as per our experience. On Safari, a naturalist guide will accompany you.

All About Jungle Safari at Ranthambore National Park

Sambhar Salt Lake- India’s Largest Inland Salt Lake

Imagine the vast expanse of a shiny mirror where horizon stretches to infinity, where the white or silver land merges to blue, where you can drive, walk and jump, where you can see the reflections of the sky, clouds, sun rays, birds, and moon, where you can camp below zillions of stars. Doesn’t this sound like some mystical place out of some poet’s imagination? Seriously, this place exists and we saw one such landscape on our recent trip to Rajasthan, known as Sambhar Salt Lake surrounding the historical Sambhar Salt Town.

Sambhar Salt Lake

Till day, Sambhar Salt Lake had never been on our bucket list and the visit to it was purely a side visit while visiting the Salasar Balaji Temple. But after seeing it in real and spending a day there, we are absolutely in love with it and would definitely love to go back with a longer plan of camping there in full moon.

About Sambhar Salt Lake

The Sambhar Lake is an elliptical-shaped, saline wetland with a length of approximately 35.5 km and a breadth varying between 3 km and 11 km. The depth of the lake varies between 60 cm in the dry season to 3 meters in monsoons. There are around 38 villages around Sambhar Jheel/ Lake. Lake has both economic and ecological importance. It is a paradise for railway enthusiasts and bird lovers as they can spot both native and migratory birds playing and dancing in the shallow water.

Sambhar Salt Lake view from Shakambhari Temple

Being India’s largest Inland Salt Lake, it produces 1,96,000 Tonnes of clean salt, which is equal to 9% of India’s total salt production. The salt factory and pans economically help the villagers by providing a huge employment opportunity.

Also, Sambhar Lake is a Ramsar site and is home to thousands of migratory birds from Northern Asia and Siberia. The specialized Algae and bacteria in Sambhar Lake provide striking varying colors to the Lake water and also support the ecology.

How to reach Sambhar Salt Lake?

The Sambhar Salt Lake lies 80 kilometers from Jaipur, 60 kilometers from Ajmer on Jaipur – Ajmer Highway, 154 Kilometers from Salasar, 190 Kilometers from Sariska, 194 Kilometers from Bhangarh Fort and 85 Kilometers from Khatoo in Rajasthan. It can be reached by air, train, bus, cab or car. The nearest airport and railway station are at Jaipur. From there, one can travel further by bus, cabs or direct train to Sambhar Railway station. Sambhar is well connected by roads too, so we took a road trip.

Road Trip To Sambhar Town
Road Trip To Sambhar Town

Route we (AllGudThings) took (388 Kilometers)

Delhi – Gurugram- Bhiwadi- Neemrana- Kotputli- Shahpura- Reengus- Khatoo- Sambhar

Total Time Taken– 7-8 hrs

Or

Ideal Route from Delhi (342 Kilometers)

Delhi – Gurugram- Neemrana- Jaipur- Sambhar

Total Time – 7 hours

Condition of Roads

If you have planned to opt for the route we took, then be ready to experience the completely different, unspoiled countryside of Rajasthan. Till Khatoo, roads are graveled with potholes somewhere in between. Beyond it you will be driving on state Highways & narrow village roads, crossing huge swamps, green flatlands. The amazing landscapes give you a mixed feel of crossing through different states of India.

Water Crossing Near Sambhar Salt Lake
Water Crossing Near Sambhar Salt Lake

On the way, you will cross rustic Rajasthan villages and view the sights found in the paintings of renowned artists. The Village women adorning colored sarees or Lehanga Choli with a big veil and water pots or piles of fodder on their head, turbaned men wearing dhoti- kurta and riding a bicycle along the countryside or taking herds of sheep & goats for grazing is nothing less than a sight to behold.

Rajasthani women carrying fodder on their head.
Rajasthani women carrying fodder on their heads
Herds of Sheep near Sambhar Lake
Herds of Sheep near Sambhar Lake.

Sambhar Town

As soon as you reach the Sambhar town, you will start seeing the town chaos and multiple boards of famous Sambhar Salt. But to reach the white Lake without getting lost in the narrow unpaved lanes of Sambhar add the location of Sambhar Salt Lake to Google Maps. It will take you to the midpoint. From here we could see the vast expanse of dried white land with some water in it, demarcated into rectangles at places, which looked like salt flats or pans. And just parallel to it ran the centuries-old narrow gauge rail track.  

Lanes of Sambhar Town
Lanes of Sambhar Town

The view didn’t satisfy our soul. We wanted to see the infinite view more closely and probably from some height. But before that our tummy was screaming and we wanted some delicious food. So, we headed over to NaCl. No! No! We didn’t start having Salt (NaCl- The chemical representation of Salt) to fill our stomach but headed to the restaurant named NaCl in Sambar Heritage Lake Resort.

NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort
NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort

Sambar Heritage Lake Resort & NaCl Restaurant

The Sambhar Heritage Lake Resort is an 18th Century, British Built, first Circuit House in India. The refurbished resort architecture has a hint of heritage with all luxury and modernity and it too has kept its traditional structure intact.

Swiss Tents by Sambhar Salt Lake
Swiss Tents by Sambhar Salt Lake

In total, the resort has 32 rooms, where the 4 heritage suites are located in the Circuit House, 8 suites are inside the Kothi which was initially the Britishers Clubhouse, 18 Swiss tents and 2 container rooms are set along the Sambhar Lakeside.

First Look of NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort
First Look of NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort

The resort has 3 restaurants- Mughal Tara, Veranda and Nacl offering the multispecialty cuisines. We went to the one close by swiss tents i.e. NaCl. Its colorful, rustic interiors were totally admirable and can surely win the heart of people who love vibrant colors.

Inside NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort
Inside NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort

We ordered ourselves a traditional Rajasthani lunch i.e. Mirchi Kadhi, Aloo, Jeera Rice, Roti & Papad. Food was yummy and absolutely worth the price. The server also explained to us that the meals are cooked using fresh organic herbs and salad leaves are grown in their own kitchen garden.

Mirchi Kadhi at NaCl Restaurant
Mirchi Kadhi at NaCl Restaurant

After lunch, we walked around the premises and observed that the resort is set at a perfect location. From your Swiss tents, you can see in front the Sambhar Salt Lake, Salt Pans, flying migratory birds and interestingly the narrow gauge rail track passing from the resort itself.

Narrow Gauge Train Track Passing Through Sambhar Heritage Resort
Narrow Gauge Train Track Passing Through Sambhar Heritage Resort

On enquiring from the staff we got to know that the small colorful train with small wooden chassis is fully functional and still this gauge itself is used to transport large bogies of salt from Sambhar. On prior information, Sambhar Heritage Resort arranges for a complete salt production tour by train. And the interesting part is that the train staff picks and drops you to resort itself.

Salt Pans View from NaCl Restaurant
Salt Pans View from NaCl Restaurant

Form here, we left to visit the famous Shakambhari Temple of Sambhar, dedicated to Goddess Shakambhari the consort of Lord Shiva and the Goddess of Chauhan Dynasty, also from where the Sambhar town has derived its name.

Shakambhari Temple & Shakambhari Jheel (Lake)

The Shakambhari Temple, almost 2500 years old is located 28 Kilometers away from the Sambhar town. In front of the Temple, lies the Shakambhari Jheel also known as the Sambhar Salt Lake.

Sambhar Town a centuries-old town has its mention in Indian epic Mahabharata. Acc. to legends, it was once a Kingdom of Demon King Vrishparva, the place where the wedding of Devayani (daughter of Shukracharya, priest of Vrishpava) and King Yayati took place. So, here lies a Devyani temple & a Devayani Kund. It is also said that Queen Jodha Bhai married King Akbar in Sambhar in the 16th century.

First Look of Shakambhari Temple
First Look of Shakambhari Temple

Apart from this the Shakambhari Temple & Lake has a mythological history. Sambhar Lake is believed to be the gift of Goddess Shakambhari to her followers. To appreciate the follower’s Devotion, Goddess converted the green forest where the lake stands today to silver metal. But the locals took it as a curse and subsequently the fear of greed and strife, made the follower’s request Goddess take back her boon. So, Devi being magnanimous converted the metal field to Salt Lake that would bring prosperity in the region and not lead to conflicts.

Around Sambhar Salt Lake

The narrow road takes you to the Temple and gets ready to see the unimaginable vistas of India. Firstly, from the parking, you will see the stairs and a long bridge going downwards to the Temple located in the center of Sambhar Lake. Also, you can see a lot of zigzag tire marks on the grounds of Lake, which could be the results of the stunts the drivers had tried to perform on the dried bed. We skipped going this side first as it was getting completely cloudy and looked the downpour could start anytime. So, we took the stairs going uphill (almost 150 stairs) to the Temple top.

Driedup & water filled patch of Sambhar Salt Lake
Dried up & water filled patch of Sambhar Salt Lake

As you start climbing you start seeing the Lake on two sides with Aravalis in the backdrop and by the time you reach the top, Sambhar Salt Lake gets visible from all sides. First Look and we were completely speechless. We were in awe – is this in India. It’s huge and looks like a pure hidden mirror. Why we had never thought of visiting it earlier?

First View of Sambhar Salt Lake from Top.
First View of Sambhar Salt Lake from Top

All we could see was a reflective mirror stretching to miles, where the horizon looked like meeting infinity. There were patches of green and pink in between. The moving things were thousands of migratory birds.

Reflections in Sambhar Salt Lake.
Reflections in Sambhar Salt Lake.

Clouds were hovering at speed. The sky was changing its color and so was the reflection in Lake, getting from white to grey. There was a perfect reflection of cows and flying birds too in Sambhar Lake. It looked in no time the storm will reach here and in the next 15 minutes, it started raining. The shelter above us got of no use as the wind and rain was at its maximum speed. We waited there itself for half an hour, thinking the weather will clear but it didn’t. The clear sign of God was that you have seen the trailer of Sambhar Lake, come for a movie later on.

Sambhar Lake
Sambhar Lake

So, completely wet and mesmerized by the huge reflective mirror, we got down to our car to explore more of the countryside and head to Salasar.

Accommodation in Sambhar

Sambhar being a business spot has lots of accommodation options from luxurious heritage resort to newly built budgeted hotels. For a luxurious experience, we will suggest Sambhar Heritage Resort and for adventurous experience opt for glamping in the Sambhar lake under stars.

Sambhar Heritage Resort
Sambhar Heritage Resort

Best time to visit Sambhar Lake

Sambhar has a tropical climate where the temperature in summers crosses 45°C, whereas winters are moderately chilled and the temperature can fall below 10°C. An ideal time to visit Sambhar Lake and witness salt production is from October to March. It is also, the perfect time to see Flamingos and other migratory birds. June to September is the monsoon season when you can enjoy water and beautiful reflections in the lake. 

Attractions Nearby Sambhar

During archeological excavations at Naliasar (4 Kilometers from Salt city), many terracotta figurines, coins, pottery, stoneware and evidence of well-planned settlements of the Kushan and Gupta periods have been found. Now, these have been placed in the Albert Hall Museum of Jaipur.

Apart from this, plan a visit to Sambhar wildlife sanctuary which is spread in an area of 22.5 kilometers. The sanctuary is a home to different avifauna like flamingoes, black-headed gull, and Northern Sheller. About 45 species of water birds as ducks, shorebirds, and geese can also be spotted at Sambhar Sanctuary.

Sambhar Salt Lake

More Interesting Facts About Sambhar Lake

  • The Sambhar Lake receives water from five rivers – Medtha, Samaod, Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari and Khandela. It is an ephemeral Lake and is at its full capacity during monsoons
  • Sambhar Lake has been producing salt from around 1500 years
  • The salt production is done by the evaporation of Salty Lake Water (also known as Brine), collected during the rainy season. The production is mostly managed by Sambhar Salts Ltd.(SSL), a joint venture of the Hindustan Salts Ltd. and the state government.
  • Tourism & Commercial activities on Sambhar Lake are managed by SSL and one can also opt for glamping in the dried lake premises after permission
  • As per our observation, Lake might look magnificent during sunset and in the full moonlight. Surely, it will be a sight to remember always
  • Sambhar Salt Lake is a popular film making the location. A plethora of movies like Jodha Akbar, Delhi 6, Veer, Ram Leela, Highway, PK, Super 30 have been shot here
  • The Sambhar Salt Lake Train is the only Train which runs on the Lake under the joint venture of Indian Railway and Rajasthan Government

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Travel India

India the land of 1.3 Billion inhabitants is a cacophony of contrasts, sound, colors, smell, and taste. Mother India as we Indians say it, has a rich history, heritage, traditions, unbelievable landscapes, lush beauty and exotic architecture to overload your senses. It is the Birthplace of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other religions. Guests are treated as Gods and each Indian live by the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava”. Not only this, but the variety of lavish cuisines of every state of India is also unique and completely mouthwatering. So, in the post, we will be quoting reasons, that why everyone should travel India, at least once in their lifetime. Also, we will brief the Indian visa and its application process.

10 Reasons Why Travel India

Why Travel India?

History & Architecture

India, also known as Bharat is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It has a history dating back to the Neothilic period. The land has been ruled by several rulers, dynasties and has gone through several wars and conquers. Each of these rulers during its era built unique massive forts, palaces, mosques, temples, etc. So there is a lot of history behind each of these structures along with unique architecture and an interesting story. Apart from this India is also known as the land of epics and legends. The two epics Ramayana and Mahabharata belong to this nation.

Haunted Bhangarh fort
Bhangarh fort in Rajasthan

Today, 38 ancient sites (cultural and natural) of the nation are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, making it a treasure trove for history buffs and design enthusiasts.

Culture and Traditions

The country is known throughout the world for its diverse cultures. And the same manifest well in its religions, traditions, languages, festivals, fairs, values, dresses, art and craft. India is dominantly a Hindu state but has a lot of Muslim population too, making it to one of the largest Muslim nations in the world.

Pushkar in Rajasthan- Travel India

The country has multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society i.e. the total 29 states of country have its own communities, culture, traditions, festivals, dressing style and food. People speak different languages and have diverse lingual tones. The traditional culture and lifestyle in Indian villages symbolizes the true essence of India. But overall, it is an amalgamation of various cultures influenced from thousands of year’s old history. The phrase Unity in Diversity sums up the true India.

Himalayas

The word “Himalayas” means a house of snow or snow abode in Sanskrit. The Indian Himalayas spread over the northern frontiers and the north of it is known as roof the world. The Himalayas span Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Bay of Bengal in India.

View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza
View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza Spiti Valley

The Himalayas have some of the highest peaks like Kanchenjunga, which is the third-highest peak in the world. Many of these peaks are considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. The Himalayas too are rich in extensive flora, fauna, and medicinal herbs. The mighty rivers like Ganges, Indus, Satluj, Brahmaputra have their origin from the Himalayas. The River Ganga is sacred of all rivers and runs for 2500 Kilometers from Northern Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. It is a source of fishing, agriculture and many other activities. Hindus also believed that the River transports the prayers of believers to heaven and a dip in the river purifies your soul.

Devprayag - Confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda
Devprayag – Confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda

Another thing, not to miss in the Himalayas is Himalayan Toy Train of Shimla, Darjeeling, Ooty. These colonial trains are a part of UNESCO Heritage sites and they provide a mesmerizing experience. The scenic beauty around the lush green landscapes and blue sky from the speeding train looks just out of the world.

Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine

Adventure

If you are an adventure lover and like an instant adrenaline rush, then travel India. In India, adventure follows everywhere – be it while hiking or driving in the Himalayas in Leh Ladakh and Spiti Valley, riding around the beaches of Goa; while doing a safari in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Ranthambore National Park or checking the haunted Bhangarh fort of Rajasthan, while checking the wildlife in the Himalayas or jungle, while passing the highest motorable passes in Ladakh or ridging the double-humped camels in Nubra valley or moving endlessly in the chaotic streets of Old Delhi, while hitchhiking or boarding the public transport. In every nook and corner, you will find an endless adventure and it is extremely fun.

View of Khajjiar Meadows form Hotel Devdar - Dalhousie Chamba Khajjiar
View of Khajjiar Meadows form Hotel Devdar

High Altitude Lakes

Indian Himalayas are home to plenty of high altitude lakes, out of which many are still undiscovered. These high altitude turquoise blue water Lakes nestled between the snow covered mountain peaks looks completely ethereal and surreal in summers whereas remain completely frozen in winters.

Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim - Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim

The Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim, located at 5430 meters i.e. 17,800 feet is the highest lake in India. Its changing colors with the daylight can leave anyone spellbound. The other high altitude lakes which one should check are – Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, and Suraj Tal in Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Nationals need a special PAP (Protected Area Permit) and Indians need an Inner line permit to visit many of these.

Religious and Spiritual Tour to Temples & Monasteries

Religion and spirituality are intertwined in the daily lives of Indians. India is a birthplace of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and others. Visiting temples (Badrinath, Kedarnath Temple, etc), Buddhist monasteries like Hemis Monastery, and looking into their relics and stories gives one a better picture of Indian culture. Witnessing the people worshipping and praying in their own ways is not less than a treat to eyes. Spirituality here is not just about praying but it’s about finding one’s inner peace and spiritual self.

Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh- Travel India
Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh – Travel India

The Buddhist Gompas in the North India, exemplify the rich traditions and simplistic life Monks lead, the Ashrams spread throughout the country gives you an idea of slow peaceful life with the consumption of organic food whereas the ancient Temples of South gives you the insight of wealth of the country. Apart these, there are some amusing and unique temples too, set up on the beliefs, likelihood or on the fan following For e.g. – motorcycle temple in Rajasthan, Amitabh Bachhan Temple in Kolkata, Dog Temple in Karnataka, Visa Temple in Jalandhar Punjab, Narender Modi Temple in Gujarat and Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi.  

Food

Indians have diverse culinary habits throughout and their food style is influenced by Mughlai, Persian and many others. Most importantly Indians take their food quite seriously.

Pao Bhaji at Orange Festival Dambuk
Pao Bhaji – Indian Street food

The diverse variety of lip-smacking delicacies range from the Thukpa in North to the Idly-Sambar in the South, including the Dal Baati Churma in the West and the various dishes of pork in the East. Chapatti with the thick curries also makes to the staple food in North India whereas rice with the seafood, prepared in coconut curry, is for South. Apart this there is no end to the street food here. So, overall India is a gastronomical paradise and the aroma of food can easily trigger up your taste buds.

Festivals & Fairs

India the largest democratic country with diversity in religion, culture, and topography is diverse with its festivals and fairs too. Each month there is some or other festival or fair and it is celebrated on a large scale. Some of these festivals have a religious affair whereas others are celebrated for fun and seasonal change. The main motto of each is to bring people of all religions together for bonding and humanity and unite the whole of India to a single bunch. For the month-wise details of Indian festivals of India check Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Holi Festival Travel India
Holi Festival – Travel India

The festival of Lights Diwali, where the whole sky gets illuminated by fireworks and the festival of Colors are the two most important festivals of India. Apart from festivals, the endless fairs or melas celebrated across the country, highlights the local culture of the land in most colorful and expressive ways, emphasizing the prevailing folklore and history of the region. The must-visit fairs while travelling to India include the Pushkar Camel fair, Khumb Mela, Rann Utsav, Goa Carnival, Khajuraho Dance Festival, Elephant festival of Jaipur, Dambuk Orange festival, etc.

4-4 Fury adventure at Dambuk Orange Festival - Travel India
4-4 Fury adventure at Dambuk Orange Festival – Travel India

Yoga & Ayurveda Treatment

Yoga and Meditation originated in India and today it is practiced throughout the world for stress relief, physical fitness, and relaxation. So, Yoga might belong to the world but its Home is India only. Therefore, to learn or practice yoga, travel India and it’s the best place to lean it. Yoga is not just about physical fitness and being flexible, it is a repository. It means to connect- Connect to yourself and maintain harmony with nature. It is a way to recognize self, increase self-consciousness and coordination, to open yourself to new things and ideas. The best places to learn Yoga are Rishikesh, Dharamshala, Haridwar, Mysore, etc.

View from Ayurvedic Spa Room of Chariot Beach Resort Mahabalipuram
View from Ayurvedic Spa Room of Chariot Beach Resort Mahabalipuram

Ayurveda, the 5000 years old natural medicine system, too has its origin in India and today its variants are used everywhere in the world as alternative medicine. The traditional system focuses on treating and eradicating the problem right from the root cause of it, by taking the account of diet, lifestyle, routine, exercise and circumstances of a patient. Ayurveda purifies the mind, body and soul. Indian forests being rich in herbs and flora, have multiple medical concoctions. So, India is an ideal place for availing Ayurveda Treatment. The best place to experience Ayurveda treatment, spas and massages in India is Kerala.

People

Last but not the least is always smiling, and hospitable people. Be it the extreme village of Spiti Valley or the desert, people are kind enough to invite you to your home for a cup of tea with local bread. Even if they have one room and you are in shortage of space, they will be more than happy to accommodate you. Still in the remote villages, you can see the innocent children playing in the puddles or climbing the trees, much away from the facts of internet and technology.

Children playing cricket on the way to chanshal pass
Children playing cricket on the way to Chanshal Pass

How to get Indian Visa

All tourists need to apply for Indian visa before traveling. The visa can be applied through Indian Post or via the most convenient option i.e. e- visa. The e- visas should be applied at least four days before the travel date and the traveler can enter the country within a period of 120 days from the issue date. For Example: If you are applying on 1st Sept then the applicant can select the arrival date from 5th Sept to 2nd Jan.

From 2019, the newly issued tourist and business e-visas for India are valid for 365 days. Within this period, the tourist can make an unlimited number of trips to India. However, this does not mean that you can stay in India for one consecutive year. UK, USA, Canada or Japan passport holders can stay for max. 180 days whereas other nationalities can only stay for a maximum of 90 consecutive days.

From the web browser open the site for applying for an India visa. Fill all the required details like contact information, place of residence, travel dates, passport information, and passport photo, and wait for 4 days to get the approval. In case of emergency, visas get approved within 24 hrs.

10 Reasons Why Travel India
10 Reasons Why Travel India

Important Points to Remember before traveling to India

  • Give yourself enough time to enjoy every location in India
  • Prepare a rough itinerary encompassing accommodation and transport, to avoid unavoidable Indian mishaps and adventurous detours
  • Hindi is India’s mother tongue still it isn’t spoken by everyone and everywhere in India. In fact, there are more than 20 languages spoken throughout the country and English tends to serve as a common lingo
  • Learn few Hindi phrases to break the ice with locals like “Namaskar” (hello), “Dhanyawaad” (thank you), “Aap Kaise hai” (how are you), “Kitna Dena hai” (how much to pay) and “Naam kya hai” (what’s your name)
  • Credit cards, Debit cards, and money wallets are accepted throughout the country. But still carry some cash while traveling in the remote areas and in the Himalayas
  • There are plenty of street food options in India but consume it from a good food joint only to avoid food poisoning
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Wear comfortable clothing and dress appropriately according to the location. In mountains, it is usually cold even in summers so always remember to carry windcheaters and a light jacket
  • Toilets are still a big-time challenge in many remote parts of India. So, carry Pee safe with you always to avoid infection
  • Public transport as well as cab service is good in the country but make sure to take complete information about the route before traveling
  • Inform the concerned person about your travel plans and locations in India for safety and security
  • Bargaining is possible in the street and flea markets of India, so remember to do it before making a purchase