Nestled among the Aravalis, Sariska is the closest place from Delhi where one can hope to see a Tiger in it's natural surroundings. Once the hunting grounds of the Maharajas Sariska was made into a forest reserve
in 1955 and declared a National park in 1982. Sariska Palace was built in the 19th century.
Area : 866 sq. km
Weather : Sariska is cool in winter and hot in summer. Nights are much cooler then the day.
Best Season : October to February. Sightings though are higher in May-June if you could bear the heat.
How to reach
Distance : 180km (4 hrs)
For reaching Sariska from Delhi one has to go via Alwar, often called the 'Tiger gate of Rajasthan'. There are two roads leading to it, one goes via Sohna and is best avoided. The route to take is along NH 8 till Dharuhera, turn left and reach Bhiwadi to catch the toll road to Alwar via Tijara. You can make good time and reach Sariska in around 4hrs. TIP You don't have to go through Alwar city as you can take the by pass road to Sariska. 10 km from Alwar you can take a short diversion to Siliserh lake on the way for a stopover. Sariska is about 30 km from Alwar. Another route for Sariska which is a little longer, is traveling on NH 8 till just before Shahpura and taking the State highway to Sariska via Thanagazi.
Train The nearest rail head is at Alwar.
What to see
Wild life At the onset let me warn you that tiger sightings are rare in the jungle here because of the undulating terrain,the vastness of the jungle and the dwindling Tiger numbers. Though you will be able to see other animals like chital, hyena, neel gai, wild boar, hyena and leopard. Sambar, jackals and langurs can be seen in large numbers in certain areas.
The forest also has a rich bird life specially around various waterholes and the lakes in the area. Crested Hawkeagle,Goldenback woodpecker,Pied Kingfisher, Lapwings etc are some of the avian population recorde here.
Forts and temples The forest is dotted with old forts and temples, most of them now in ruins except the Sariska Palace situated just outside the forest gate and now converted into a five star hotel. Inside the century there is a temple dedicated to Hanuman at Pandupol, which the folklore has it was created by the Gada of Bhima of Mahabharata when he struck it on a cliff to make way for the Pandavas. The huge fort ok Kankanwadi is worth a visit, it was built by Aurangzeb and his brother Dara Shikoh was kept a prisoner here. The view from the top of the fort is breathtaking. The temples of Neelkanth are a little ahead of the fort and dedicated to Shiva, though mostly in ruins now.
What to do
One can take one's own vehicle to the park but you are restricted to drive only on the metalled road till Pandupol and not get down in the kucha. The best way to see the park is in the official four wheel drives available just out side the park. If you have time book it for the whole day, othewise go for a shorter version. The feel of the jungle you get driving through non-existent roads and kucha is beyond compare. Drive till Pandupol and then come back and turn towards Kankanwadi for and Neelkanth where the real action is and also the chances of Tiger sightings and other wild life are higher. The lake around Kankanwadi has a rich bird life too. Take a guide along, though jeep drivers too are quiet knowledgeable about the jungle. Wait around water hole to increase you chances of sightings specially around dawn and dusk. Remember to take your binoculars, some packed food, sun glasses, a cap and some insect repellant cream if you want to stay in the jungle for a longer period.
Lake Siliserh is about 30 km from Sariska near Alwar and a good picnic visit in the evening. The site of the lake from above is lovely and one can also do boating.
Bhangarh is an interesting place of old palace and fort about 50k from Sariska and supposed to be the most haunted place of India.
Where to stay
Sariska Palace Built in the 19th century by Maharaja Jai Singh of Alwar this imposing palace served as a hunting lodge for the maharajas for the years to come. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel with all the modern amenities like swimming pool, lawn tennis,table tennis,huge lawns to play cricket, football etc and realxrelax . Based in a total of 100 acres it's facade and lush green lawns even in the middle of Rajasthan are a treat to watch.
Sariska Palace retains all it's regal charm and ambience to remind one of the times of Maharajas and the Raj. The Sariska Palace is right next to the Sariska Wild Life Sanctuary. Sariska can be easily reached within 4 hours form Delhi and 3 hours form Gurgaon.
Rooms at Sariska Palace- Sariska Palace boasts of 85 rooms and suites, all airconditioned and divided into various blocks like Queens Corner, Lord's Corner etc.
Restaurants & Bar There are two dining halls serving Indian, Chinese, Continental and the local Rajasthani cuisine. You must try their mutton dishes and excellent confectionery. The well equipped bar will keep you in good spirits.
Conference at Sariska Palace- With 3 conference halls, modern audio visual facilities and lovely lawns to conduct training programmes, Sariska Palace makes for a wonderful venue for corprate outings, both serious and the leisure types. The Halls can take upto 100 people in Theater style.