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
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.