Our journey to Ranthambore begins at the Jaipur Railway Station, the largest of the city’s seven stations. 88 broad gauge and 22 meter gauge trains with 35,000 passengers travel through its portals every day! We board the 12955/56 Jaipur Superfast Express and settle in our four-berth 2nd class AC coach for the 2-hour trip. Eating the sandwiches packed for lunch, I watch the Rajasthan desert flash by; dry arid land interspersed with some scrubs and bushes.
Arriving at Sawai Madhopur Station, right on schedule much to my surprise (Indian Railways are not known for their punctuality unlike the Swiss), we are greeted by a representative from Jungle View Resort. We quickly set up a relay chain and within 30 seconds, the four passengers and 11 bags are safely off the train and on the platform. Distributing the bags among us we start the trek to the car – walking down the platform, up a steep ramp, down some stairs, then down a steep ramp using our legs as brakes to stop us and the luggage from running away!
The town of Sawai Madhopur was built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur in 1763. Its claim to fame is the Ranthambore National Park (the former hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur and today a major wildlife tourist attraction) and the historic Ranthambore Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
We drive through the town and 15 minutes later turn off the main road and enter the Jungle View Resort, our home for the next four days!