We were there late in the tourist season, so there were only a few other guests, which meant we had to eat waaaaay more than we wanted at the wonderful Rajasthani buffet (that's right, it was all their fault - they made us overeat). A musical family from Bikaner played traditional music from the region and their daughter danced. Naturally, we finished our dinner with masala chai.
Turns out we didn't see tigers -- or lions or bears or leopards or any other large carnivore on our safari in spite of being up and out in a surprisingly chilly dawn. It didn't matter --
Indian ring-neck parakeets...
Oh, and cute kids.
The afternoon of our safari, we hired a guide (a real one, this time) to take us to the fort. His name was Nadim, and he knew his stuff -- trained as a biologist but obviously in love with the region, its culture and history, too. Ranthambore Fort was built about a thousand years ago and has changed hands many times. The fort is dotted with historic temples hundreds of years old, including a particularly important one to Ganesh, so we shared the ramp through the massive gates up to the mountaintop with dozens of villagers from the surrounding area.
Nadim said he first visited the fort when he was eight years old and has spent most of his life exploring the ruins of temples, palaces and barracks. He showed us some medieval grave markers with what was left of beautiful calligraphy in Persian -- and told us that when he was a kid, they were in perfect condition. Little by little, the marvels of Ranthambore Fort are being chipped away. But we were the only tourists on the mountain during our visit and the view from the top made me feel very privileged.