LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 200 KILOMETRES FROM GURGAON, SARISKA IN RAJASTHAN IS A PREFERRED HOLIDAY DESTINATION FOR THE RESIDENTS OF THE MILLENNIUM CITY. NESTLED IN THE ARAVALI HILLS, DECIDUOUS FORESTS, SHEER CLIFFS, AND ROCKY LANDSCAPE. VIDYA RAJA WRITES.
Apart from the tigers that Sariska is famous for, one can also spot the leopard, sambhar, chital, nilgai, four-horned antelope, wild boar, rhesus macaque, langur, hyena, and jungle cats. Another unique feature of Sariska is the Bengal Tiger that one can spot here, making Sariska the first ever tiger reserve in the world where the relocation of tigers from their natural habitat to another environment has been done successfully. There is enough to keep the birdwatchers engaged as one can get busy spotting peafowl, grey partridge, bush quail, sand grouse, tree pie, golden backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle, and the great Indian horned owl.
Unlike most other national parks, Sariska remains open to visitors all year round. The best period to visit the park is between October through June. Usually, early morning and late afternoon is considered best times for spotting the wildlife.
6 am – 9.30 am
3 pm – 6.30 pm
The jeep safaris organised by the park authorities allow one to get a feel of the wildlife. If however, you are looking for some more adventure, you must spend some time in the machans. The National Park has some strategically constructed machans, like one near the water hole. This allows the tourists a chance to get up close with the wildlife. The two well known hideouts, Kalighat and Salopka, are ideal to spend an hour or two either early in the morning or late in the evening, when the animals and birds are on the move.
In addition to nature, Rajasthan is also famous for its hospitality, food, and magnificent palaces. The Sariska Palace is one such architectural wonder that is a must see. Originally built as a hunting lodge by the Maharaja of Alwar, it is situated right on the edge of the National Park. The palace has been converted into a premier heritage hotel, and offers the perfect setting to unwind after an exhausting jungle safari.
While Sariska is famous for its wildlife, a lesser known fact about it is that it is a pilgrimage centre too. The most famous and widely visited temple is the Hanuman mandir situated 11 kilometres from the entrance of the National Park. This temple houses a reclining idol of Lord Hanuman and is said to date back to the times of Mahabharat. You will find many langoors and monkeys at the entrance to this temple, so beware of your valuables!
The other temple that sees many devotees throng to it is the Bhartihari temple. The belief is that any wish made with a pure heart gets fulfilled if this temple is visited. The temple is named after Bhartrihari Baba, the ruler of Ujjain who is believed to have left his
kingdom in order to become a saint. Legend has it that Bhartrihari Baba buried himself alive and that his temple in Alwar today stands above his grave.
The ghost story
If you have had enough of the wildlife, and seek a wilder game, then this is one adventure you must indulge in. Located approximately 46 kilometres ahead of Sariska, is a place that has earned itself the title of being India’s ‘most haunted’ place – Bhangarh.
Founded in 1613 by Madho Singh, who was the son of the great Mughal General Man Singh I of Amber, this current ‘ghost-town’ is believed to have been abandoned soon after it was built.
One of the legend states that the city of Bhangarh was cursed by the Guru Balu Nath, who sanctioned the establishment of the town with one condition, saying, “The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!” When a descendant raised the palace to a height that cast a shadow on Balu Nath’s forbidden retreat, he cursed the town as prophesied. Balu Nath is said to lie buried there to this day in a small samadhi.
Entry to Bhangarh is prohibited by law, before sunrise and after sunset. The local belief is that anyone who tries to flout these instructions just vanishes to never be found again. Whether this is true or not, we leave it to your imagination!