Sariska Tiger Reserve is a national park and tiger reserve located in the Alwar district of the state of Rajasthan, India. The topography of the protected area comprises scrub-thorn arid forests, rocky landscapes, dry deciduous forests, rocks, grasses and hilly cliffs. This area was a hunting preserve of the Alwar state and it was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. It was given the status of a tiger reserve making it a part of India’s Project Tiger in 1978. The wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 866 km2 (334 sq mi). The Sariska Tiger Reserve was declared a national park in 1982 with a total area of about 273.8 km2 (105.7 sq mi). The park is situated 106 km (66 mi) away from Hindaun, 107 km (66 mi) from Jaipur and 200 km (120 mi) from Delhi.
The Sariska Tiger Reserve is a part of the Aravalli Range and rich in mineral resources, such as copper. In spite of the Supreme Court’s 1991 ban on mining in the area, marble mining continues to threaten the environment.
A notable feature of this reserve are its Bengal tigers. It is the first tiger reserve in the world to have successfully relocated tigers.
In 2004, there were strong and persistent reports that no tigers were being sighted in the reserve. It was not only that tigers were not being seen but also and more alarmingly, there was no indirect evidence of the tigers’ presence (such as pugmarks, scratch marks on trees, etc.). The Rajasthan Forest Department took the stand that “the tigers had temporarily migrated outside the reserve and would be back after monsoon season”.
Project Tiger, now National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), backed this assumption. There were 16 tigers in the previous year. In January 2005, journalist Jay Mazoomdaar broke the news that there were no tigers left in Sariska. Soon the Rajasthan Forest Department and the Project Tiger Director declared an “emergency tiger census” in Sariska and the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s intelligence agency, conducted a probe. After a two-month investigation they finally declared that Sariska did not have any tigers left. Poaching was blamed for the disappearance of tigers. In order to repopulate Sariska with tigers, three tigers were relocated to the reserve and authorities planned to relocate two more tigers by the end of the following year. Recently, two tiger cubs and their mother were spotted in the reserve bringing the total number of tigers to seven with five adults. In July 2014, 2 more tiger cubs were spotted taking the total of tigers in the reserve to 11 with 9 adults. Two cubs were further sighted in August 2014, making the total of tigers in Sariska to 13, with 7 females, 2 males and 4 cubs. This significant increase in tigers’ population has been welcomed by wildlife enthusiasts and therefore the footfall has been increased by a huge amount.
In 2005, the Government of Rajasthan, in cooperation with the Government of India and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), planned the re-introduction of tigers to Sariska and also the relocation of villages. Plans to construct a bypass were also discussed. It was decided to import one male and two females from Ranthambore National Park The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) along with the Government of Rajasthan started tracking the relocated tigers with the help of ISRO’s reconnaissance satellites. The first aerial translocation of the male tiger (Dara) from Ranthambhore to Sariska was done on 28 June 2008 by Wing Commander Vimal Raj of the Indian Air Force using a Mi-17 Helicopter.
Only two of the four villages’ experts had said needed to be relocated were actually moved, though the second, Kankwari, was shifted long after the tigers were re-introduced. However, Kankwari fort has been renovated by the state tourism department, which can possibly violate wildlife protection norms. The first relocated village was Bhagani. Also, the diversion of roads crossing the reserve, an issue critical to the survival of its wildlife, continues to be a problem.
One more tigress was shifted to Sariska from Ranthambhore in February 2009. On 28 July 2010, another tigress was brought from Ranthambhore National Park. Totaling five tigers — two males and three females — were living in the reserve until November 2010 when the first relocated tiger died due to poisoning.
Unfortunately, the first three of the relocated tigers came from one father. Moreover, the first two tigresses have the same mother. The breeding of close relatives leads to inbreeding.
Area: 866 km2
Altitude: between 300 m and 722 m MSL
Rainfall: average 650 mm (per year)
Forest types: tropical, dry, deciduous, and tropical thorn
Flora and Fauna
Apart from the Bengal tiger, the reserve includes many species of wild life, such as the Indian leopard, jungle cat, caracal, striped hyena, Indian jackal, chital, sambhar, nilgai, chinkara, four-horned antelope, wild boar, hare, hanuman langur, rhesus monkeys. Sasrika is also ethereal for bird watchers with some of the rarest feathered species like grey partridge, white-throated kingfisher, Indian peafowl, bush quail, sandgrouse, treepie, golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and the Indian eagle-owl.
The dominant tree in the forests is dhok (Anogeissus pendula). Other trees include the salar (Boswellia serrata), kadaya (Sterculia urens), dhak (Butea monosperma), gol (Lannea coromandelica), ber (Ziziphus mauritiana) and khair (Acacia catechu). Bargad (Ficus benghalensis), arjun (Terminalia arjuna), gugal (Commiphora wightii) or bamboo. Shrubs are numerous, such as kair (Capparis decidua), adusta (Adhatoda vesica) and jhar ber (Ziziphus nummularia).
Location: About 37 kms From Alwar in Rajasthan, India
Main Attractions: Tigers, Leopards and Wild Dogs
Best Time to Visit: October to May
Visiting Hours: 0700-1600 in winter (Oct – Feb); 0600-1700 Rest of the year
What To See And Do
Other Attractions in Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary
The Kankwadi Fort : Among the historic landmarks located within the Sariska National Park, includes the Kankwadi For, where, Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother, Dara Shikoh.
The ancient hanuman temple at Sariska is called Pandu Pole. It is hidden well amidst the green foliage of the forest and creates a mysterious ambience. There is a giant idol of Hanuman that is present in a reclined position and goes back to the days of Mahabharata. There are hundreds of monkeys and langurs running about the hanuman temple premises. Most of these are harmless.
Another interesting place among the places to see in Sariska and a major attraction for the tourists is the Pandupol. It is also the most frequently visited spot inside the Sariska National Park. According to the legend, the Pandavas spent some part of their exile period at the Pandupol in Sariska. This has given the place a significant historical importance and a reason why so many tourists stop to visit the Pandupol en route to the national park. History also claims that it is here at Pandupol that Bhima, who acquired the strength of a thousand elephants, had been defeated in the ego battle by Lord Hanuman.
The pandupol is a natural arch that has been engraved in the limestone because of the action of water, several hundred feet above the ground. There is a beautiful waterfall that is created at the pandupol in Sariska during the rainy seasons.
The Ancient Shiva Temples : Within the area of the Sariska tiger sanctuary, Neelkanth temples, that dates back to the 6th-13th century AD, now in ruins, afford a wonderful sight to the visitors.
The Palace :
Sariska was known as the royal reserve of the rulers of Alwar. This palace built by the Maharajas of Alwar, has now been converted into a hotel.
Best Time to Visit Sariska Tiger Reserve
November to March is the best period to visit Sariska. April, May and June is better for game viewing around water holes though it is the driest and hottest season of the year. In short Sariska awaits you any time of the year.
Where To Stay
Currently there is 16 Luxury tents, 14 rooms and 10 cottages built of stone and terracotta roof. All rooms have facilities of cable television and hot water in bathrooms. The entire resort has full power backup.
How To Get Around
How to Reach Sariska
The nearest airport from Sariska is Jaipur, situated at a distance 107 Km and well connected to major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Jodhpur.
Alwar, at a distance of 37 km, is The nearest railway station from Sariska. From Alwar, you can hire a taxi to reach Sariska. There are regular bus services from Alwar to Sariska.
Sariska National Park is situated on the Delhi-Alwar-Jaipur Highway. Regular bus services link Alwar to major destinations in and around Rajasthan and Delhi. You can also hire taxis for Sariska.