Sariska National Park–Beyond Jungle Safari

 
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The main entrance to Sariska National Park

I recently had plans to visit Binsar Valley, in the heart of Uttarakhand. I had booked the hotel and was all set with my bags packed, but all thanks to the bad weather that I had to change my plans of travelling to the hills, and instead plan a visit to Sariska.

Such a thunderstorm and heavy rainfall in the month of April was quite contrary to my expectations despite the fact that meteorological department had made accurate forecasts of late. The only expectation I had now was to experience the joy and thrill of a Jungle Safari at  Sariska National Park, leaving behind the monotony and boredom, which these big cities offer you at times. Sometimes I feel, living in these metropolitan cities is as addictive as getting into a bad company or falling prey to bad habits—you can neither be with it, nor be without it.

Nevertheless, the sky poured heavily at the time when there was just a trace of early dawn. The roads were silent as if allowed the raindrops to make the greatest noise. There were animals resting under the shade, ensuring they were safe. And then there was me—unplanned, uncertain about the place, I was about to visit–The Sariska Tiger Reserve, in the Alwar District of Rajasthan.

Drive to Sariska from Delhi

As usual, it was a road trip and it took me not more than 4.5 hours to cover almost 240 kms from Delhi to reach Sariska National Tiger Reserve. Delhi-Ajmer Expressway offers a smooth journey except few bumpy patches here and there. The only time taken was due to the large number of heavy vehicles on the highway, which is the only detrimental reason while travelling via road. You can rest assured that the drive to Sariska is fun, especially if you have a good company and uplifting music.

  • Toll Route – There are two tolls Kherki Daula Toll Plaza (NH8) of INR 60 and Shahjahanpur-Rajasthan Toll of INR 114.
  • Relaxation and Refreshments – It is advisable to carry some snacks with you to avoid unnecessary stoppages to save time. However, on your way you have enough delectable delights to satiate your hunger pangs and quench your thirst. You can choose to either pick through McDonalds’ or KFC’s drive through or stop at Haldirams, Subway a little ahead or CCD at Kathpotli on the highway. On your way back you can also try some Dhabas or Sagar Ratna for a safer choice.

Hotels and Resorts in Sariska

Caution! Do not go without the hotel booking.

Getting a room at Sariska is not just difficult, but impossible if you have not pre-booked a room for yourself in peak season/long weekends. The only three hotels at Sariska Tiger Reserve are The Tiger’s Den, Sariska Palace and Camp Sariska (a Club Mahindra property).

  • The Tiger’s Den – Closest to the starting point of the Jungle Safari. You can easily walk down to the point as it is just a few steps down the lane. Tariff starts from INR 4,500 per night.
  • Sariska Palace – If you have to experience the royalty with extreme luxury and glittery luminance all around, this is the place. Tariff starts from INR 10,000 per night.
  • Camp Sariska – Serene, plush green and positive ambience is what this place has to offer. Tariff for luxurious Swiss tents, comes at a price of INR 10,000 per night, while the cottages and duplex start from INR 7, 500.

All the hotels were completely packed on the day I reached Sariska. “Not even a single accommodation, really?” The hotel manager asked me to go to Alwar, after all that bickering, which was 35 kms from Sariska, as the only alternative to find a room. Well, couldn’t have spent a night without a shelter so I headed towards Alwar. Without going much in detail about the drive to Alwar I would like to mention that within this range of 35 kms, you will find some resorts and the famous one being Alwar Bagh Resort by Aamod—Exotic ambiance, secluded, vast and a perfect place to recreate and rejuvenate your senses.

The lesser number of hotels around this tourist spot makes them all the more expensive. Before you spend exorbitantly, make a note that there’s nothing much to do, but the Jungle Safari and 1-2 days are good enough for a relaxing stay. And, I reiterate that you need to book a hotel in advance.

Flora and Fauna at Sariska National Park

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Dry Deciduous Trees

 

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A Sambar Deer looking straight into the camera as if posing for me.

Nestled in the Aravalli Hills, Sariska National Park has an expanse of approx. 881 sq km. As soon as you enter the Sariska forest range, you would be elated to see the dense forest on both sides of a curvaceous narrow road. Kardhai or Dhok trees are found in abundance. The enchanting rocks and landscapes will give you a high and more so ever when you see some wild animals and beautiful birds within proximity. I was lucky enough to have the sight of a few Sambar deer at a one hand distance. One of those deer posed in front of my camera for seconds and I was even luckier to have clicked a photograph from as close a distance that I could have easily patted his back. Then there were countless number of Peacocks accompanied by Peahens.

Apart from these, what I spotted on my way to Safari were plenty of Spotted Deer and Gray Langurs. Most of these Langurs were sitting together on the tree branches flaunting their long thin tails while others were moving carelessly to and fro our ways. You can drive around the reserve in the vicinity, but cannot take your vehicle inside the reserve. Only those who would want to go straight to the temple inside the reserve and come back can take their vehicles for an entry fee of Rs. 300/-.

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Gray Langur
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Gray Langurs flaunting their thin tails

 

The much awaited Jungle Safari

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A canter and a jeep
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Yes, and that’s me; elated with the idea of a Jungle Safari and the view in the backdrop. 🙂

You can opt for a Jeep Safari or Canter Safari at the Sariska Forest Booking Counter or through Online Booking. Online booking will save you time and energy of standing in a long queue for hours and would also leave you with brighter prospects to book a Jeep, which is difficult otherwise. The booking counter opens at specific times in the mornings and afternoons for just a couple of hours. I preferred jeep over the other for the simple reason that I wanted to have lesser distractions with fewer people and luckily I got it from the counter. I saw a few guides and drivers standing in the queue with us at the booking counter. On inquiring, we got to know that they were buying tickets for their repeat visitors who had called them and informed them about their visit. Saves time… Huh! I too acted smart and took the contact number of my guide for the future.

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Puran Singh, our guide with a smiling face.

There were two Bengali couples and my counterpart who accompanied me. A jeep can carry up to eight people out of which one is the driver and another is the guide. Our guide Puran Singh was absolutely by heart with all the details of the reserve. A soft-spoken, jovial fellow has served the forest since 8 years. His extreme passion for work, love for animals and knowledge about the forest instilled confidence in us that we would definitely see at least one tiger, if not more. Puran told us the stories related to different tigers that he termed as ST1, ST2 and so on. On being asked he told us the expanded version of ST was Sariska Tiger. According to him, there were 13 tigers out of which seven were males and the rest  females. He also shared his experience of having a glimpse of a tigress during morning safari with four cubs. Must have been a splendid view and we waited in awe!

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Wild Boars at some distance
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Antelope

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The ride was bumpy, but more than that it was thrilling. Our excitement was boiling as we entered the deep dense jungle. I acted as a spotter by standing and pointing to a variety of animals and birds. Some of them I saw repeatedly were Antelopes, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, Langurs, Wild Boars, Peacocks, Crocodiles, and Rabbits. But, these eyes were constantly searching for the striped hero of the jungle.

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Need no description
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Spotted Dear

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Puran also enlightened us with the fact that there were other animals like Porcupines, Hyena and they mostly come out during nights. The entire forest has just a single beer and he’s ferocious. I wondered if he considered himself the king of the jungle. Nevermind we kept on gazing tearing through the wilderness as far as our eyes could see. However, our crossed fingers and hope did not work for us this time. We could not spot a tiger. All we could spot was the footprint of the tiger and I captured it to take it back as a memory and come back with a fresh hope to spot one next time.

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Tiger’s footprint

Believe it or not, there wasn’t any disappointment because it was worth the effort. The breathtaking view of the otherwise hard to find animals and birds, picturesque beauty, open jeep ride cutting straight through the jungle, the thrill and good company of people, made it one of the most remarkable trips and left us wanting for more. We took some last snaps of the sunset and left for the day with a strange love for wildlife.

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Nitty-Gritty
Ideal months October to June
Safari Timings Morning Safari Evening Safari
Winter Rides 6:30 -10:30 14:00 – 18:00
Summer Rides 6:00 – 10:00 14:30 – 18:30
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Image Courtesy: Google

 

 

 

Anupriya Mishra is a writer, an independent blogger, a voracious reader and a freelance journalist. Truly in love with life, she wishes to celebrate each day by contributing to her blog. Her passions such as reading, writing, traveling, and photography have their unending space on the blog, which is a true reflection of her personality. She calls herself, “Wanderer by choice, Writer by passion.” To know more about her travel escapades, take a look at the “Travel & Living” section of the blog. Moreover, she conducts reviews of books, movies, hotels and restaurants. She also has a penchant for Fashion, Lifestyle, Events, Promotions, Books, Music, Features and Poems, all of which find space on the blog.


4 Comments

  1. enidhi April 17, 2015 Reply
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