History of Ranthambhore Fort and Sawai Madhopur

 The oldest settlement in the area near Sawai Madhopur was around the Ranthambhore fort. The exact origin of the Ranthambore fort is still disputed but it is generally accepted that there was a settlement at the site of the Fort, as far back as the 8th century A.D. It is widely believed that the construction of the Ranthambhore Fort was started during the reign of the Chauhan rajput King Sapaldaksha in 944 AD. Another theory stipulates that King Jayant, also a Chauhan rajput, built the Ranthambore Fort during 1110 AD. It is most likely that the construction of the fort commenced during the mid 10th Century A.D. and continued for a few centuries after that.

Since, the Ranthambhore Fort controlled the trade routes between North India and Central India, it was highly coveted by the rulers of North India. The Ranthambore Fort had its golden moments during the reign of the king Rao Hammir, the last ruler of the Chauhan dynasty (1282 - 1301 AD). During 1300 AD, Ala-ud-din Khilji, the ruler of Delhi sent his army to capture the Fort. After three unsuccessful attempts, his army finally conquered the Ranthambhore Fort in 1301 and ended the reign of the Chauhans. In the next three centuries the Ranthambore Fort changed hands a number of times, till Akbar, the great Mughal emperor, finally took over the Fort and dissolved the State of Ranthambore in 1558. The fort stayed in the possession of the Mughal rulers till the mid 18th century.

ranthambore at dusk

During the mid 18th century, the Maratha rulers of Western India were gradually increasing their influence in this region. In order to check the growing influence of the Marathas, Sawai Madho Singh, the ruler of Jaipur state, unsuccessfully, requested the Mughal emperor to hand over the Ranthambhore fort to him. In 1763, Sawai Madho Singh fortified the nearby village of Sherpur and renamed it Sawai Madhopur. This town, which is now commonly known as the "Sawai Madhopur City", lies in a narrow valley between two parallel hills, at the South Western edge of the Ranthambhore National Park. Two years later, the Mughals handed over the fort to the Jaipur state.

During the end of the British Raj, Sawai Man Singh, the last ruler of Jaipur state, got a railway link constructed between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. A railway station was built about 4 kilometers away from the Sawai Madhopur town. Gradually, a small settlement came up around the railway station. This twin of Sawai Madhopur, known as "Man Town", has now outgrown the older "City".