The best weekend get-away, Sariska Tiger Reserve is one of the most visited wildlife sanctuaries in northern India. It is the first tiger reserve of India, which was declared a tiger reserve in order to protect tigers from poaching. It is situated in the Alwar district of Rajasthan in the arms of Aravalli hills. It is just 200km away from Delhi and 107 km from Jaipur. This region of Alwar served as a hunting ground for the Rajas and Maharajas of Rajasthan till the time it was converted into a wildlife reserve in 1955. The wildlife sanctuary emerged as a tiger reserve in the year 1978 under the Project Tiger. It spreads over a large area of 866 sq km.
The reserve being the part of Aravalli hills contains rich minerals such as Copper. The reserve continues to draw a large number of visitors and wildlife enthusiasts because of its Bengal Tigers. The solitary predators were successfully relocated to this reserve when it was declared as a tiger reserve. Also this is the first reserve throughout the world to have done so successfully.
The Pandupol occupies the central spot of the tiger reserve. It is considered as the Pandava retreat. The site attracts a large number of pilgrims as it also has Hanuman Temple. There is a royal building associated with kings of alwar like Sariska Palace that served as a royal hunting lodge of Maharaja. Pandupole entry is free on Tuesday and Saturday throughout the year.
The temperature goes as high as 49 degrees in summers and as low as 4 degrees in the winters. It is larger than Ranthambore and is less commercialised. The reserve experiences extreme weather conditions. The area exhibits a mosaic of sharp cliffs and long narrow valleys. The picturesque landscape is predominantly comprised of dry deciduous forests, rocks, scrub thorn arid forest and grasses. An epitome of excellent tolerance and adaption, the broad range of wildlife is simply wonderful.
The carvings of the temple are exquisite and the temple is more than 10 centuries old. A home to monkeys, majestic sambars, nilgai, peacocks, wild boars, jackals, this reserve is covered with semi deciduous jungles and lush greenery. The region is fed by the seasonal streams.
The weather conditions of the tiger reserve are extreme. The temperature during winters is 8 degrees and in summers it is 39 degrees. The ideal period to visit the Sariska Tiger Reserve is in the winter season. Tourists can also go for sight-seeing in other famous parts of Rajasthan in this season. It is the best time to catch the sights of rich wildlife diversity of the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The chances of spotting wild animals are quite low during July and August due to the movement of animals to the higher ground. During this time, the reserve is only open for the pilgrims who come to visit the temple.
Due to the close proximity of towns like alwar and others, one can easily find accommodation in the vicinity of Sariska Tiger Reserve. To enable visitors to stay in and around the Sariska National park, various government rest houses are available. There is a beautiful hunting lodge which is an extension of the Maharaja Jai Singh's palace. It is surrounded by serene view. This Haveli provides an excellent accommodation. This can also serve as an amazing escape from the chaos of city life. Wild life resorts in Sariska are: 1. Sariska Resort 2. Hotel Hive Alwar Other option for a royal stay is Maharaja Jai Singh Superior Suite. It has an ultimate royal character to its ambience so that you feel like the King of the palace. Royal chambers which are the luxurious suites will make your holiday memorable.
Though the sight tiger remains the reason for many to visit the reserve, there is a wide array of wildlife diversity available in the reserve. Sariska tiger reserve resides a number of predator species including leopard, hyena, jackal, wild dog and cat, sambar, chinkara, chital, golden jackal, hare, hanuman langur, four horned antelope, caracal, rhesus monkeys. Some of the other mammals are small Indian civet, giant fruit bat, ratel, sloth bear, porcupine, palm civet, common cobra, common monitor, Asian rock python, soft shelled turtle, rat snake, whip snake and checkered keelback. The reserve also inhabits varied species of birds like grey partridge, Indian peafowl, sand grouse, golden backed woodpecker, Indian eagle owl, white throated kingfisher, bush quail, yellow footed green pigeon, grey francolin, black rumped flameback, great Indian horned owl, ibis, jacana, Red wattled lapwing, ring dove, spoonbill, Asian paradise flycatcher stone curlew, Rufous treepie and crested serpent eagle. The rich avifauna of the tiger reserve attracts a large number of bird lovers and watchers.
The tiger reserve supports a rich diversity of plants and trees. Predominantly covered with Dhok tree, it also has other trees such as salar, beer, Bargad, bamboo, gol, dhak, khair, arjun, gugal. Types of shrubs include kair, adusta and jhar ber. Mainly dry deciduous forests and scrub-thorns forests cover the entire region. Various tree and vegetation are supported by the climatic conditions even though the weather conditions are extreme. A wide variety of shrubs and grasses are found. The lovely view of Siliserh Lake gives you a refreshing feeling. It runs along the edge of the tiger reserve. A variety of grasses and shrubs can also be found. The beautiful Siliserh Lake flows along the edge of the reserve.
The private vehicles are no allowed in the Sariska Tiger Reserve. Gypsy safari charges for Indians are INR 2410. At most six people can enjoy the three hour safari trip on the Gypsy. To visit the Kankarwadi Fort which is situated inside the Sariska tiger reserve, one has to pay an extra charge of rs400. The Sariska tiger reserve is open for the private vehicles only twice a week, Tuesday and Saturday only. But these private vehicles cannot leave main road and are not allowed to enter off roads made for open gypsy safaris. There is yet another way to experience the thrilling sights of the Aravalli hills. One can go on a Camel Safari. Camel Safari is organized for the tourists to get a beautiful view of different parts of the region, farms, beautiful landscapes and villages by sitting on the back of this tall desert creature. Drinks and food are arranged for a comfortable and enjoyable safari for the tourists going for the camel safari. But the best way to go on a safari trip to spot wild animals is to go by jeep. These jeeps can be hired from the reception of forest department at a cost of 500 to 600 INR. The charges of other vehicles are 200INR for a bus and 15INR for a motorcycle. And along with the vehicle a forest guide can be hired for 50INR per hour. Entry fee for vehicles is 125INR per vehicle. The entry fee for Indians is Rs.20 and Rs.100 for foreigners. Video camera fee is 200INR. For professional video cameras, fee is Rs.3000, and for feature films it is 2000INR. Other curious wildlife enthusiasts can find another way to see animals that is to book a 'hide' near the waterholes. When the sun goes down, people occupy this hide. Deer in large numbers come near these waterholes to drink water. If one is lucky panther and tiger can also be spotted quenching their thirst near the waterholes. The water levels fall significantly around the months of April, May and June, this is when a good number of wild animals can be spotted around Kalighati and Slopka. The permission to these waterholes is taken from the Park director. There are two hides available at kalighati and there is another one at Slopka. While other animals like sambar, jackal, chital, langur and wild boar are seen near these areas in the day time, the tiger generally appears around dusk or during the night. An excursion trip to Silserh Lake is a must when you go to this region. It is situated on the edge of the forest. But there are crocodiles in winters. Visitors can also visit Tehla Lake. It is only 15km from Kalighati. It inhabits a variety of water animals in winter, including Barheaded geese and Greylag, Pintails, darters, shags, and pochards.
Sariska tiger reserve is easily accessible due to the presence of roads of good quality. If possible one should take his/her own vehicle or hire a vehicle for the entire trip. The reserve is easily accessible from Delhi too. It is a three hour journey which is less than 200km via Daruhera- Alwar- Sariska. One can also go via the main Jaipur highway but the distance gets extended by 40km.
Air: Jaipur is the nearest airport which is about 110km away from the reserve.
Rail: Also the nearest railway station is situated at Alwar.
Road: The nearest town to Sariska is Alwar which is about 36km away from the tiger reserve.