The region of Sariska lies in the heart of Aravallis, and is located only 200 km from Delhi. Although it is off the main trail of Rajasthan, this small destination has a long history of rebels and rulers, palaces and forts, bravery and splendor. It is only one hour from Alwar, another offbeat destination that has a host of attractions. In fact, Alwar also finds a mention in the Mahabharata as the kingdom of Matsya which was one the main places where the Pandavas sought refuge during their period of exile. With arid valleys, brimming lakes, grand palaces and impressive temples, this is an ideal weekend getaway. Offering the charms of a small town packed with a host of attractions, this is a getaway that you will remember for a very long time. Moreover, this resort in Sariska offers glamping and various other stay options.
So if you have decided to pack and head out to Sariska, here are a few things that you must check out from your list.
Hang out with the tigers at Sariska National Park
A major attraction in the region, the Sariska National Park offers a very rich diversity. Blessed with thick forests comprising of thorn, scares and hardy trees, the forest offers different appearances, depending on the season. The Palash or Dhak, also known as the flame of the forest gives dashes of brilliances with its bright orange and red flowers. In summers, these trees attract a huge variety of birds. In addition, wetlands like Karna Ka Bas and Siliserh Lake (located on the northeastern boundary of the park) are also major meeting point for wildlife including birds and freshwater crocodiles.
Safaris are conducted in three zones of Sariska, although the first and third are most visited. Zone 2 is truly majestic with native date palms and unforgettable views of the restored Kankwari Fort. If you are a photographer, we recommend you go here.
The park is also a must visit for avian enthusiasts as it is strategically located to attract a lot of migrating birds, besides the resident species. Although there are 200 species that inhabit the park, the most common include rufous treepie, jungle babbler, plum-headed parakeet among others. Other elusive species include painted spurfowl, the brown fish owl, chestnut-bellied as well as painted sandgrouse, and the Indian thick-knee.
PS: Winter is the best time to see Sariska’s rich avifauna in all its glory: cranes, storks, warblers, and a host of waterfowl such as northern shovellers, common teals, and tufted pochards make this their winter retreat.
Other animals that you can spot at Sariska includes the elusive tiger, the commonest species of the park, besides, jungle cat, jackals, leopards, striped hyena langurs, Indian grey mongoose and a variety of deers that you can easily spot here.
Please note that from May to June temperatures in Sariska soar to 45°C. While this is off-season for travellers, it is a good time to see most mammals as they congregate near water sources. the park is closed during the monsoon (July-Sept). As the mercury dips from November on, Sariska becomes a popular destination. In December-January early mornings can be quite chilly, with temperatures approaching freezing and is a good time to spot some avian wonders.
Go monument hopping in and around Sariska
Although the Kankwari Fort in Sariska National Park is an unmissable spot, there are many other monuments that you can visit in and around Alwar. The most prominent fort is the Alwar Fort or Bala Quila that is located 300 metres above the city and 44.8 kms (1hour 30 minutes) from Sariska. Believed to have built by Hasan Khan Mewati in the 16th century, the fort went through a long list of kings before it was annexed in the 18th century by the Kacchwaha kingdom. Another important landmark is the Nikumbha Mahal Palace that boasts of latticed balconies while the Vinay Vilas Mahal (or City Palace) built by Maharaja Bakhtawar Singh in the 18th century is an awe-inspiring monument that combines styles of Rajput and Mughal dynasties. The palace also houses swords of Akbar and Aurangzeb, masterpieces including Rajput and Mughal paintings from the 18th century and stone sculptures from the 11th century. Other monuments that you can visit if you have time includes, the splendid Rani Moosi ki Chhatri (has interiors covered with gold-leaf paintings of exquisite floral patterns)and the Tomb of Fateh Jung considered as a masterpiece of Indo-Islamic architecture.
Unwind in parks and lakes
Parks and lakes are another integral park of not just Sariska but also of the Alwar district as a whole. The top most pick is Jai Samand Lake which was constructed a century ago by Maharaja Jai Singh. With its beautiful chatter like structures, you can also head to the Company Garden that is located nearby. If you have more time on your hand, do visit the Neemrana Baoli that is located 90 kms from Sariska. Built in the 18th century, it was used to provide water to the people inside the fort. About 50 km southwest of Alwar is the Sariska Palace, that was built as a hunting lodge towards the end of the 19th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. It is another unmissable spot in the city.
Also, no visit to Sariska is considered complete without a hiatus at the allegedly haunted town of Bhangarh. Open only during the day, the fort is cursed. According to local legends was cursed by a sage who allowed the complex to be built on the condition that the shadows of the palaces never touch him or his retreat. However when this rule was flouted, the entire town was brought to the ground. Despite being in ruins, the crumbling temples, havelis and pavilions have a charm that is truly unique.
PS: The fort is only open during the day, so plan accordingly.
Getting To Sariska
By Rail – There are plenty of train that you can catch from Delhi. We recommend the Ajmer Shatabdi (2 hour 40 min) a chair car train that is convenient and fast. From Alwar, you can easily take a bus or cab to reach Sariska.
By Road – Sariska is around 222 km/3 hour from Delhi. The highway between the two destinations is in prime condition and there are lots of dhaba to keep you happily fed as well.