Sariska National Park
|The first thing that comes to mind with a mention of Sariska is its National Park. This 800 sq km enclosure is world famous for being a reserve for the dwindling tiger species. The apex predatory beast has won the interest of many wildlife enthusiasts plus the easy accessibility of the park from major cities such as Delhi (200 km), Jaipur (107 kms) and Alwar (35 kms) make it a popular destination.
Location : Situated in North-East Rajasthan, Distance : New Delhi (163 km), Jaipur (150 km), Population : 25,000, Clothing : Summer-light tropical/Winter light woollen, Languages : Hindi
The park is in Rajasthan at the foothills of the Aravalli amazingly breathtaking, wonderfully quiet and serene and less commercialised than Ranthambore. It was a former hunting reserve of the Royal family of Alwar and declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1958.
Wildlife viewing at the park is best undertaken in the morning and evening, when the animals come out to drink water in the many water holes. Sariska is home to over 270 species of birds and nearly 30 different species of mammals. On the ground one can find numerous legged animals such as leopard, wild dog, jungle cat, civets hyena, jackal, apart from tiger and plenty of rhesus monkeys which the park is famous for. While the skies are filled with songs of peafowl, grey partridge, bush quail, sand grouse, tree pie, golden backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and the great Indian horned owl. Best way to explore is by a jeep safari. If you do not want to get back home without spotting the apex predators then head to Kalighati, an area close to the park checkpoint. It is famous for the maximum tiger and panther sightings.
But this tiny town is more than tigers or forest; it is littered with monuments and temples having strong historical background. Thanks to this, authorities are forced to open the park throughout the year. Take special time out to walk up the hilltop Kankwari Fort where Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother, Dara Shikoh. With no traces of humans, animals especially leopards have been daring enough to use it as their hunting base. Don’t forget your camera, view from here is superb. If money isn’t an issue, you can enjoy the bountiful wealth of the area by staying at the Sariska Palace. It was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh of Alwar as a hunting lodge with beautiful interiors using a blend of French and regal architecture.
Other interesting ruins are the Neelkanth Temples that date back to the 6th -13th century AD and the Garh Rajor Temples from the 9th and 10th centuries. There is a ruin of a 17th-century city, Bhangarh, close to the sanctuary that is reputed to be haunted. Pandupol Temple is also a must-see for the religious and otherwise for the beautiful waterfall.