The Sariska Tiger Reserve is one of the most famous national parks in India. Originally a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state, the area was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. In 1978, it was given the status of a tiger reserve making it a part of India's Project Tiger scheme. The present area of the park is 866 km². The park is situated 107 km from Jaipur and 200 km from Delhi.
There is an ancient isolated fort in the forest reserve. This fort is said to be built by Aurangzeb to imprison his elder brother Dara Shekoh. The fort is called Kankarwari. The fort is not well maintained but the views are nice and provide breathtaking panoramic view of the valley. It is a steep climb to the top of a hill where the fort is built.
There are the ruins of a temple complex where excavations are still occurring and one of the prominent temples is the Pandupol temple and not the Neelkantha temple, as some people mistake it to be. Legends say that at Pandupol Bhim was tested by Lord Hanuman for strength and humility. The ruins date back to a period between 6th and 13th century. The broken yet noble statues lying littered on the grounds tantalisingly tease and will not yield their secrets easily. It is a fascinating place for those that have a passion for romance with the past.
Flora and fauna
Wildlife found in the Sariska Tiger Reserve includes the Bengal tiger, leopard, jungle cat, hyena, jackal, chital, sambar deer, caracal, langur, wild boar, four-horned deer (chowsingha), nilgay, monkeys and several species of birds. By 2004 the tigers had all disappeared, probably due to poaching. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and state government of Rajasthan reintroduced tigers by relocating five of them from Ranthombor tiger reserve between 2008 and 2010.
Best time to view the park is from November to March.
Sariska is 195 km from Delhi and 115 km from Jaipur by car. Road condition is pretty good. From Delhi take a digression from Dharuheda on SH25 that will take you directly to Alwar through a newly constructed toll road. From Alwar, Sariska Booking Office is hardly one hour drive.
Fees and permits
Admission is ₹200
You can take your own vehicles on Saturdays and Sundays and it costs ₹250/- But you cannot go off the main track. Hence if you would like to experience off the track jungle then it is better to hire the vehicles available at the reception.
Diesel/petrol jeeps cost around ₹800/₹1000 for three hours hire, or ₹1700/₹2000 for a full day, max 5 people. You must also pay admission for the jeep.
The reserve is also the location of several archaeological sites such as the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and Garh Rajor temples from the 9th and 10th centuries. The 17th-century Kankwadi fort, located near the centre of the park, was where the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb briefly imprisoned his brother Dara Shikoh in the battle for succession of the Mughal throne. The area also has historical buildings associated with the Maharajas of Alwar such as the Sariska Palace, which was used as a royal hunting lodge of Maharaja Jai Singh.
- 1 Rusirani ka Mahal (Rusirani Village) (just south of the park). A hidden village known for its old architecture and ancient remains.
On the way back to Alwar from Sariska, do make it a point to visit Siliserh RTDC hotel Lake palace. The view of the hotel overlooking a vast lake is breathtaking. Worth enjoying a tea sitting on the terrace
Outside the Pandupol temple, ensure to eat the bhajiyas, kachoris etc with the traditional khadi. This is one of the best things to be done inside the jungle.
RTDC Hotel Tiger Den ph 2841342, Dorms/Single/Double ₹50/₹600/₹700
A very good stay near Sariska Tiger Reserve is RTDC hotel, very near to Sariska Tiger Reserve, good stay, helping staff, good food, and stay is affordable.
There are frequent buses to:
- Alwar - (express ₹14, one hour, at least hourly).
These also head on to:
- Jaipur - (₹65). Buses stop in front of the reception office.