Sariska Travel Information

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Introduction

Situated in the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills, in the state of Rajasthan, Sariska National Park is a wonderfully quiet and peaceful destination to visit. The jungle here has been registered under the Project Tiger in 1979 and became a national park in 1982. A number of tourists visit this place due to its easy accessibility from the nearby major towns and cities. Sariska is especially famous for its tiger reserve though it also offers you sites to visit that have a strong historical background. The monuments at these places are symbolic of their glorious past. The park also offers the visitors a unique opportunity to observe the behavioural patterns of the animals residing here.

These same forests, ages ago, are supposed to have sheltered the exiled Pandava brothers, heroes of the epic Mahabharat. The dense forest and difficult terrain of Sariska shielded them until they reached the court at Viratnagar 66 km away and lived there disguised as servants of the king. Only five boulders now remain to testify to the presence of the five Pandavas and their wife, Draupadi.

Though the material relics of that age are scarce, the whole countryside is teeming with evidence of the presence of the heroic brothers. Bhima, the strongest brother, smote his scepter in the rock face of a cliff and created a passage for them through a gorge deep in the sanctuary. This is the place known as Pandupol, the most commonly visited spot within the Sariska area. It was here also that Bhima, who had acquired the strength of many thousand elephants by drunk from the eight jars of the nagas, received a setback to his inflated ego by Lord Hanuman. Hanuman lay across the road disguised as an old monkey and challenged Bhima to lift him when he was ordered to clear the way for the Pandavas to pass. Bhima could not even move his tail and accepted defeat. A temple here is dedicated to Hanuman in the human form.

Tourists rarely return without a visit to this temple in which the image is in a reclining position. Busloads of devotees crowd the route on Tuesdays, the monkey god's known weekday. On Wednesdays, the inhabitants of the sanctuary are allowed a rest from the sight of human invaders and animals are indeed most visible on these days.

In September each year, however, they almost disappear off the track as hordes of worshippers from near and far, descend on the place for the famous fair which offers the startling spectacle of persons crawling lengthwise on the road the entire 48 km distance from Alwar city. If one is lucky to be present at the right time, the ear can be treated to the fascinating narration of the folk epic, the pandun ka kada, a Mewati version of the Mahabharata, sung by a Muslim jogi for hours at a stretch.

At Bhartrihari, it is the group called Bhartrihari ke Jogi, who dominate with their powerful music at the fair in August. For hundreds of years, the place gave solace and shelter to the legendary sage Bhartrihari, the author of important Sanskrit works on nitishastra and epics. A millennium later he is still greatly revered by the local populace. A temple in the hilly area (35 km) of Sariska is dedicated to this saint. For every night over a month, a grand musical drama of seven hours in the style of Parsi theatre is enacted and draws a massive audience. It narrates the epic story of king Bhartrihari, renowned for his justices.

Climate: The best time to visit the beautiful countryside of Sariska is between November and June. One can see the most of the animals in the evening.

Places of interest

Rajasthan is a pristine platform for viewing wildlife in the country because of its two national parks and over a dozen sanctuaries. Sariska National Park is known for its tigers. According to the latest available data, there are about 35 tigers at Sariska. Other predators of the forest include the panther, jungle cat, jackal, hyena, and fox. Also found are sambhar, chital, wild boar, hare, nilgai, civet, four-horned antelope, gaur (Indian bison) and porcupine. Birds found here include peafowl, gray partridges, quails, sand grouses, tree pies, white-breasted kingfishers, golden-backed woodpeckers, crested serpent eagles, vultures and horned owls. Since the last decade, caracals have also been spotted here.

The landscape of Sariska comprises of hills and narrow valleys of the Aravali hill range. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. The broad range of wildlife here is a wonderful example of ecological adoption and tolerance, for the climate here is variable as well as erratic, especially in terms of rainfall, which is desperately needed to replenish the region.

Apart from wildlife, there is touch of historicity as well. Located inside the park are ruins of medieval temples of the Hindu God Shiva. The ruins of the temple Garh-Rajor, built in the 10th century, are scattered all over the jungle. A 17th-century castle on a sharp hilltop at Kanakwari provides an excellent view of Sariska's avian inhabitants in full flight. It is in this fort that

Mughal emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his very own brother, Dara Shikoh. There is also a palace built by the erstwhile Maharajas of Alwar that has now been converted into a hotel.

The park's wild inhabitants may be spotted at the many water holes of the park. However, if the region has kindled the wild spirit in you or if you are determined not to leave without some good wildlife photographs, then booking a `hide' is an excellent option. These spots overlook the various water holes of Sariska, which the animals frequent.

 

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