Location: 150-km From Jaipur, Rajasthan
Tourist Attractions: Sariska Sanctuary, Govt. Museum
Formerly known As: Mewat
Best Time To Visit: September-February
THE TIGER GATE OF RAJASTHAN
150-km from Jaipur and 170-km from Delhi, Alwar is nestled between a cluster of small hills of the Aravalli range. Perched on the most prominent of these hills is a massive ancient fort that whispers tales of the rich history of the city.
Once an ancient Rajput state, formerly known as Mewat, Alwar was nearest to the imperial Delhi. The people of the state did not accept any external interference and daringly resisted all foreign invasions. In the 12th and 13th centuries, they formed a group and raided Delhi. But finally, Sultan Balban (1267 AD - 1287 AD) suppressed them, bringing the area under the Muslim rule.
In 1771 AD, Maharaja Pratap Singh, a Kuchhwaha Rajput belonging to the clan of Jaipur’s rulers, won back Alwar and founded a principality of his own.
Apart from its long history, the city has a rich natural heritage with some beautiful lakes and picturesque valley thickly wooded in parts.
Some of the finest varieties of birds and animals are spotted here. Alwar has one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan - Sariska, which is an excellent tiger country.
FORTS AND PALACES
The Fort: This huge fort with its ramparts stretching 5-km from north to south and 1.6 kms from east to west stands 304m above the city and 595m above the sea level, constructed before the rise of the Mughal Empire. Babar had spent a night at this fort and took away the hidden treasures to gift to his son, Humayun. Akbar’s son, Jehangir had also stayed here for some time during his exile. The place where he stayed is called Salim Mahal. Maharana Pratap Singh finally annexed the fort in 1775 AD.
It is a forbidding structure with 156 large and 51 small towers and 446 openings for musketry, along with 8 huge towers encompassing it.
The fort has several gates - Jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Laxman Pol, Chand Pol, Kishan Pol of Jal Mahal, Nikumbh Mahal, Salim Sagar, Suraj Kund and many temples.
City Palace or Vinay Vilas Mahal: An 18th century palace, harmoniously blending the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. While the ground floors have been converted into government offices and district courts, the upper apartment is presently a museum.
Government Museum: The museum has the finest collection of Mughal and Rajput paintings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries and some rare ancient manuscripts in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Sanskrit. ‘Gulistan’ (The garden of roses), ‘ Waqiat-I-Babri’ (autobiography of the Mughal Emperor Babar) and ‘Bostan’ (the garden of spring) are some of the notable ones amongst the collection.
It also has copy of the great epic ‘ Mahabharata’ painted by the artists of the Alwar School.
Rich collections of the Indian armory are among other exhibits of the museum.
Behind the City Palace is an artificial lake built in 1815 AD by Maharaja Vinay Singh with few temples along its banks.
A marvelous 'chhatri' with unusual Bengali roof and arches, also known as the 'Moosi Maharani's Chhatri', is situated in this area.
Purjan Vihar (Company Garden): A picturesque garden, laid out during the reign of Maharaja Shiv Dan Singh in 1868 AD. The garden has an enchanting setting called ‘Shimla’ which was built by Maharaja Mangal Singh in 1885 AD. The lush surroundings and the cool shades make it the idyllic visiting spot during summers.
PALACES: Vijai Mandir Palace: Situated 10-km away from the city this palace is a splendid palace, built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1918 AD. A picturesque lake overlooking the palace makes it a fascinating sight.
A fabulous Sita Ram Temple in the palace attracts number of devotees, especially during Ramnavami. One needs prior permission form the Secretary to visit the palace.
Siliserh Lake & Palace Hotel: 13-km away from Alwar, this place is an idyllic picnic spot with enchanting landscape of wooded hills and beautiful 'chhatris' on the embankment of the 10.5-sq-kms placid lake. A magnificent royal palace and the hunting lodge built by Maharaja Vinay Singh in 1845 AD for his queen Sheela stands overlooking the lake. Now converted as a hotel with Lake Facilities, it is a delight for the trigger-happy photographers and filmmakers.
Sariska Palace: Maharaja Jai Singh built a marvelous palace here in the honour of the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit to the sanctuary. Presently, it has been converted into a heritage hotel called as Sariska Palace. RTDC Hotel Tiger Den also offers excellent accommodation at Sariska. The best time to drive in the sanctuary is from sunrise till sunset.
LAKES: Jaisamand Lake: 6-km from the city, Jaisamand Lake makes a beautiful artificial lake constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1910 AD; a popular spot for outings and picnics. During monsoons, sprawling greenery all around makes it a visual treat. This place is easily accessible by road from Alwar.
Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary: The 765.80-sq-kms thickly wooded reserve cradled in the picturesque valley of the Aravallis. Established in 1955, it is an excellent tiger sanctuary under the Project Tiger. The dry deciduous forests of the Reserve are noted for their population of Tiger, Nilgai, Sambhar, Cheetal, Four-horned Antelope and Wild Boar.
THE WILD IN THE WOODEN VALLEY: Located 107 kms from Jaipur, the Sariska National Park is in a wooden valley, surrounded by barren mountains. The dry deciduous forests of the ancient Aravalli range cover the area of the Sariska National Park and Tiger Reserve.
The main fauna in the park includes the Tiger, Panther, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Civet, Sambhar, Chinkara, Nilgai and Four-Horned Antelope. Declared a Sanctuary in 1955, it became a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger in 1979.
The other great predator of Sariska's forests is the leopard besides the ferocious tiger. Sariska has a healthy porcupine population, and this tiny creature often pits itself against the tiger, which is particularly fond of porcupine flesh.
The 'Chowsingha' (four horned antelope) is commonly found at Sariska; exclusively Indian, it is the world's only wild creature, which has two pairs of horns. The Park's terrain is also congenial to the Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and Nilgai.
Remarkable for their lack of timidity are the Rhesus and Langur, which, at Sariska tolerate human closeness with astonishing equanimity.
The birdlife comprises of the peafowl, Gray Partridge, Quail, Sandgrouse, Tree Pie, White-Breasted Kingfisher, Golden-Backed Woodpecker, Crested Serpent, Eagle and Great Indian Horned Owl.
VIEWING THE WILD: The best way to visit the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary is by jeep and these can be arranged at the Forest Reception Office on Jaipur Road.
Booking a `hide', overlooking one of the waterholes, can provide an excellent opportunity for viewing and photographing wildlife. So, pick up your sleeping bag and some food and settle down to watch.
PRIME SITES: Within the park are the ruins of many temples.
The KANKWARI FORT the Sariska Park has historic overtones. Here, Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother, Dara Shikoh.
THE ANCIENT SHIVA TEMPLES, in the precincts of the park, Neelkanth temples (6th-13th century AD), which are now in ruins, afford a wonderful sight to the visitors.
THE PALACE, at Sariska was once the royal reserve of the rulers of Alwar. This palace built by the Maharajas of Alwar has now been converted into a hotel.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Delhi at a distance of 163-km and Jaipur and 150-km are the two nearest airports from Alwar.
Rail: Alwars has got good rail connections from prominent locations in and around the state. Some important train connections are Shatabdi Express (New Delhi-Alwar/ Ajmer); Superfast Express (New Delhi-Alwar-Ajmer); Intercity Express (Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Alwar-Jaipur); Marudhar Express (Varanasi-Alwar-Jodhpur); Mandore Express (Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Alwar-Jodhpur).
Road: Regular services link Alwar with key destinations in and not far off Rajasthan and Delhi.
Local Transport: Auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws and tongas are the best way to commute within the city.
PLACES TO STAY
RTDC's Hotel Khartal and Circuit house as well as numerous Daharamshalas solves the purpose of accommodation in Alwar.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES
ENTRY FEE: Jeeps are available on hire at the RTDC Hotel Tiger Den.
Charge: There are entry fees required to be paid to enter the palace.
Tourist Information Center: Tourist Office, Opp. Company Garden, and Nehru BAL Vihar.
NEARBY CITIESJaipur: 150-km
Area: 44.76 sq. km.
Climate: summer: Max. - 37°C Min. - 24°C
Winter: Max. - 31°C Min. - 11°C
Rainfall: 62 CMS.
Clothing: summer - Light Tropical
Languages: Rajasthan, Hindi, and English.