A vast forest area of about 800km silver-lined by a range of steep and sharp cliffs, and what else should we expect if not some harsh adventures? But have you heard this quote – “Only difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations”? Having this quote at the back of our minds, we shall know what to expect from such a dry forest, at the end of this write-up.
It is the Sariska Tiger Reserve that we are reading about. This is a humongous forest area which extends for about 866 sq.km with the strong backup of the Aravalli Range of mountains. The reserve forest is located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, just about 200km from New Delhi and not more than a 107km from Jaipur. Hence, it can be reached either through the roadways connecting New Delhi and Alwar via Daruhera or the Jaipur Highways. The forest area can also be accessed through railways with the nearest railway station being located at Alwar – nearly 36km, and the nearest airport is located at Jaipur – about 110km from the forest area.
The Sariska Tiger Reserve is among the most visited reserve parks in the entire country, on account of its close proximity to the main towns such as Delhi and Jaipur among others. This reserve once served as the hunting grounds for the Royal Families of Alwar and other kingdoms in and around Rajasthan. The reserve also comprises some monuments of historical significance like the Kankwadi Fort – which was originally built by Raja Jaisingh II in the 16th century, the Pandupol – believed to be a retreat of the Mythical Pandavas, and other royal hunting lodges of the pre-British-era Rajput Kings.
The Sariska Forest is a tropical, dry, deciduous forest with erratic climate changes. The summer in the forest can peak almost upto 49 degrees centigrade and fall back as steep as 4 degrees centigrade in the contrary. Yet, the best time to visit the reserve area is from October to June.
The inner core of the forest spreads over 480km and is made of scrub-thorns, arid lands, grass and rocky surfaces. Apart from all the features that are stated above, this forest area stands out for it’s most renowned Bengal Tigers. In fact, this reserve holds the record of being the first ever tiger reserve forest in the world to have successfully relocated tigers. In late 2004 and early 2005, the forest was accused of having its tiger population nailed down to zero and it was under the guidance of the then Project Tiger Director and CBI three tigers were relocated to this forest. After several measures of this sort and inbreeding of the relocated tigers, the total Tiger Population of Sariska was declared as 13 in August, 2014 with 7 females, 2 males and 4 cubs.
Apart from the Royal Bengal Tigers, Sariska also pays home to a wide variety of inhabitants like Indian leopard, striped hyena, caracal, Indian jackal, chinkara, nilgai, four-horned antelope, sambhar, chital, jungle cat, hanuman langur, wild boar, rhesus monkeys and hares. It is also an ethereal place to spot the aerial hosts in sandgrouse, Indian peafowl, grey partridge, white-throated kingfisher, treepie, crested serpent eagle, bush quail, golden-backed woodpecker and the Indian eagle-owl. The forest also sports varied species of trees like salar, ber, gol, kadaya, gugal, bamboo, bargad, arjun, khair, dhak, and others. So does this enigmatic landscape proving to be a gaping destination to bank upon for a wildlife safari anytime soon.