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The Sariska Tiger Reserve is one of the most famous national parks in India located in the Alwar district of the state of Rajasthan. This area was a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state and it was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. In 1978, it was given the status of a tiger reserve making it a part of India's Project Tiger scheme. Sariska Tiger Reserve has the Bengal tiger, leopard, jungle cat, caracal, striped hyena, golden jackal, chital, sambhar, nilgai, chinkara, four-horned antelope 'chousingha', wild boar, hare, hanuman langur, and plenty of bird species and reptiles.
Sariska, was declared a sanctuary in 1958. It became a centre for Project Tiger in 1979, and a national park in 1982. Sirisehr Lake is an important source of water here. It is also home for the panther, jungle cat, jackal, hyena, the sambar, chital, wild boar, hare, nilgai and porcupines. Many birds like the pea-fowl, gray partridge, quail, sand grouse, tree pie, white breasted kingfisher, golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and great Indian horned owl have also found sanctuary here.
The reserve is also the location of several sites of historical importance such as the 17th-century Kankwadi fort. Pandupol in the hills in the centre of the reserve is believed to be one of the retreats of Pandava. Tal Briksh to the north is special by its warm water spring. Another attraction is the The Neelkanth temple dedicated to Siva just 32 kms from the park.
How to reach
By Air - The nearest airport is Jaipur(108kms)
Ry Rail - The nearest railway station is Alwar(21 kms).
By Road - Sariska is also well connected by roads. Jeeps are available to explore the park.
Places to see
Among the historic landmarks located within the Sariska National park includes the Kanakwari fort. This is the fort where Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother Dara Shikoh. The Kanakwadi fort also had links with the Mughal history. Now overgrown with weeds and shrubs, it stands majestically on a hill overlooking the Kanakwadi plateau.
Ancient Shiva temple
Within the area of the sanctuary Neelkanth temple that belong from the 6th to 13th century AD, now in ruins, afford a wonderful sight to the visitors. This ancient medieval temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Sariska was known as the royal reserve of the rulers of Alwar. The Sariska palace was built by the Maharajas of Alwar and this palace has now been converted into a heritage hotel.
The Siliserh lake is situated at the edge of the tiger reserve, Just off the Alwar-Sariska road. This lake has a palace overlooking the lake which has now been converted into a tourist resort. Crocodiles are the major inhabitants of this lake and observing them basking on the shores of the lake can be an interesting experience.
Alwar (21kms) is the nearest city. The main tourist attractions in Alwar city are City Palace or Vinay Vilas Mahal, Bala Kila, Purjan Vihar, Vijay Mandir Palace, Bhartrihari temple, Siliserh lake palace, Neemrana fort palace.
Vinay Vilas Mahal
Vinay Vilas Mahal are also known as the City palace, is the palace complex which is situated just below the fort but some of it has been converted into Government offices. Vinay Vilas Mahal was built by Maharaja Vinay Singh. This palace dates back to the 18th century and is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. A part of the complex houses the museum where a rich part of its history has been preserved. In the gilded Durbar Hall at the sity palace there is a raised platfform upon which rests a gold and velvet throne. On the walls and ceiling you would be able to discover a fabulous wealth of murals and mirror work. The City Museum located on the upper floors of the palace has a splendid range of miniature paintings of the Alwar school. The colours in the paintings are as fresh and vibrant as ever. In the museum there is the unusual silver table which is used to entertain the nobility of the Raj era and also the vast collection of armoury.
Purjan vihar (company garden)
Built during the reign of Maharaja Shiv Dan Singh in 1868, Purjan Vihar is also known as the company gardens. The scenic garden serves as a popular picnic spot during summers. One of the most attractive features in the garden is the setting known as Shimla. It was built by Maharaja Mangal Singh to provide cool shades as a relief from the scorching summer heat.
The Bala Kila or Bala fort is perched on the most prominent hill of Aravalli range which explains the tales of the rich history of the city. It is the massive medieval fort with 15 large and 51 small towers and rises about 3000m above the city. The fort is also known as the Kunwara kila. This huge fort is famous for its history which predates the Mughal rulers. It runs 5 kms from north to south and nearly 2kms from east to west. Some of the Mughal rulers are reported to have stayed there before it reverted back to the Rajput rulers in the 18th century. The fort is circumcised with several gates known as pols. A few which are named after various personalities eg. Jai pol, Laxman pol, Suraj pol. In this fort the Mughal Emperor Babur decided to make a night halt here, but succumbing to innate greed, he raided the hidden treasures in the toshakhana and took the booty home to shower on his son Humayun. Salim mahal which lies in ruins now is said to have been the palace where Prince Salim, later the Mughal Emperor Jehangir spent his 3 years in exile.
Vijay Mandir Palace
10 kms away this was the royal residence built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1819. A splendid temple of Sita Ram is situated here which is visited by a large number of devotees on the occasion of Ram navami.
The Bhartrihari temple is a prominent pilgrimage center. There is a cenotaph of Bhartrihari. According to the legend the King abandoned the world 21 centuries ago. He roamed about in these parts in penance and even had his cenotaph here. Every year a fair is organised at the temple in the month of Sept/Oct.
Siliserh Lake Palace
An idyllic picnic spot is situated about 13 kms south west of Alwar. The shimmering lake covers an area of 10.5 square kms. This lake is surrounded by thick wooded hills with beautiful chhatris on the embankment. This lake was once a source of Alwar's water supply and various fishes and water birds can be seen here. Situated between the Aravallis and overlooking the lake is the magnificient royal hunting lodge or the Siliserh Lake palace. This lake was built by Maharaja Vinay Singh in 1845 AD for his queen Shila. This palace has now been converted into a heritage hotel. This lake offers boating and sailing facilities and is a delightful spot for various photographers and film makers. The boats can be hires here.