In the Aravalli range, which cuts across Rajasthan, a few pockets of forest still survive; one such area is the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary & Tiger Reserve, once the shikargah (hunting ground) of the princely state of Alwar. Under the guidance of Maharaja Jai Singh, many waterholes and watchtowers were constructed within the jungles, which have been a boon for the wildlife. Sariska became a Sanctuary in 1958 and was brought under Project Tiger in 1979.
Sariska lies within the Golden Tourist Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, and is an important halt for the traveller. It is one of the last surviving densely forested tracts along the Aravalli mountain range and the 800km2 dry deciduous jungles are interspersed with forest, scrubland and water-bodies, which provide fruit, fodder and water for its birds, mammals and reptiles.
The Park is rich in avifauna as well; besides the omnipresent Peafowl other birds such as woodpeckers, partridges, quails, owls, treepies and several species of raptors may be spotted with patience and bit of luck. As a Ranathambhore National Park, also in Rajasthan, this park contains ruined temples as well as a fort, pavilions and a palace (now a hotel) built by the maharajas of Alwar, the former owners of this area. The sanctuary can be visited year-round, except during July/ August when the animals move to higher ground, but the best time is between November and June. You will see most wildlife in the evening, though tiger sightings are becoming more common during the day.
The tiger reigns supreme in the forests of Sariska, but other animals cohabit with the "Great Cat" and herds of Chital (spotted deer), solitary Nilgai (Blue Bull) and Sambar (largest Asiatic deer), Wild Boar, Indian Porcupine, Wild Dog and Hare may be seen on a safari through the Park. Hides have been constructed at strategic locations (e.g. near a waterhole) to enable visitors to photograph animals (special permission needed).
Best time to visit
The best time to visit this beautiful countryside is between November and June. One can see the most of the animals in the evening.
How to reach
Sariska is 35 km from Alwar, which is a convenient town to approach the sanctuary. Frequent buses ply between Sariska and Alwar. From Jaipur, Sariska is 120 km away and it takes three hours by road. Jaipur is well connected by air, rail and road to most of the important cities in India.
The best way to visit the park is by jeep and these can be arranged at the Forest Reception Office on the Jaipur Road.