Everybody wants to go to the Sariska National Park. It’s green, serene and so close to home. However, what many happy troopers do not know is that Sariska and its environs used to dance to a very different beat not too long ago. The beat of royal drums, to be precise, heralding the arrival of the Maharajas of Alwar and their hunting dogs.
Sariska was the hunting preserve of the Alwar royals, and its palace has been privy to many of these shoots. Reams have been written on the hunting escapades of these princes. Cookbooks have been written on the fancy shikar cuisine that evolved during those years. Now, an entirely different chapter has been added to the story of Sariska, that of wildlife protection.
Gone are the traps in which hapless goats were tied to a pole to attract tigers for the princes’ shooting pleasure. Now, fences prevent humans from further endangering the animals. And more books and articles are being written, detailing the efforts being made to preserve the hundreds of species endangered over the years by callous hunters and poachers. So, hopefully, you can count on wild weekends in Sariska for many years to come.
Things to See and Do in Sariska
The standard Sariska itinerary includes taking the main road to Pandupol, which passes by Karnakabas Lake, Brahmnath, Kalighati Chauki and Bhaironghati. Those with more time and varied interests can turn off at Kalighati to visit Kankwari Fort (to the west of the core area) or Neelkanth Mahadeva via the exit at Tehla Gate (to the south).
Sariska has hilly terrain, dominated by the Aravallis, which are topped by two vast plateaus. There are three large lakes within the park: Mangalsar (also known as Mansarovar), Siliserh and Somasagar. To counter the scarcity of water sources at Sariska, the administration makes arrangements for providing water to animals in summer.
Entry fee Indians Rs 60, foreigners Rs 400 Vehicle fee Rs 150 Video camera Rs 250 Park timings 6-10 am, 3-6 pm Guides. Enquire with your hotel. If you don’t have a vehicle, you need to rent a jeep, usually available near the park office, at Tiger’s Den and Sariska Palace for approx Rs 1,250 for 3 hrs. Jeeps can only be hired from here
Beautiful Drive in the Aravalis
Just past the Tehla Road, a 15-km-long track branches off to Kankwari. Passing through dense forest on the top of the Aravalli Ridge, this track leads to a point with an impressive view of Kankwari, a medieval fort standing on an isolated hill in the middle of a plateau. Kankwari has a bund with perennial water. It’s believed that Aurangzeb imprisoned his brother Dara Shikoh here. It’s worth visiting for the views.
Pandupol, to the south-east of RTDC’s Tiger Den, is a lovely spot. It’s believed that the Pandavas spent part of their exile here. Pandupol is also the name of a 35-foot waterfall gushing out of the Aravalli Ridge. Near the waterfall, which is accessible by road, is the old Hanuman Temple. The road leading to the temple is full of langurs, peafowl, spurfowl and tree pies. There is a large mela at Pandupol every year. Every Tuesday, pilgrims are permitted to drive through the park to visit this shrine. If you are interested only in seeing wildlife, it’s best to avoid Tuesdays.
The Temples in Sariska
Neelkanth Mahadeva, a temple town near Tehla, houses the ruins of over 300 Hindu and Jain temples built between the 8th and 12th centuries CE. The carvings resemble those of Khajuraho and were probably built around the same time (9-10th centuries CE).
The Naldeshwar Mahadev shrine nearby attracts pilgrims. The approach to the temple, surrounded by dense forests, can be accessed by a 2-km-long walk from the main road. The Bhartrihari Temple, to the south of Kushalgarh in the sanctuary area, is famous for its fairs. The temple is located at the edge of the forest.
Nearest railhead: Alwar (31 km/ 1 hr)
Best Option TO
Jammu-AlI Express (dep: Old Delhi 4.25 am; arr: Alwar 7.11 am). Taxi from Alwar costs Rs 1,000 (drop)
Best option FROM
AII-JAT Express (dep: Alwar 6.39 pm; arr: Old Delhi 9.55 pm)
Take NH8 to Alwar Modh (5 km before Shahpura) via Kot Putli; turn left for the 51-km run to Sariska National Park. Bairat and Thana Gazi villages are your landmarks En route halts RTDC’s Motel Behror
Story by Kishore Singh