Sariska – of Forts and Tigers
What happens when you fuse wildlife, divinity and history? Sariska is born. We are talking about Sariska, a place that is wonderfully rich in all of the above and Nature. Sariska is located in the green comfort of the magnificent Aravalli ranges, in Alwar, Rajasthan. Most people know Sariska for the Sariska Tiger Reserve; such is the deep love for the Tigers, this wild species that we, the human species are trying so hard to save. There is quite a lot more to Sariska besides the Tiger connection though. Sariska is steeped in history and divinity, and for those who decide to set foot in every fort in Sariska, it can be a tiring journey, going by the numbers of forts and their expanse. So, while we let the tigers live and flourish in this protected habitat, let’s take a deep, loving look at the historical forts here.
Forts of Sariska – Rich in history
Owing to its royal legacy, Sariska houses many historical forts in its precincts.
The Kankwari Fort is a part of the Kankwari village, in turn, a part of the Sariska Wildlife National Park. The fort goes back to the 17th century. It was built by the then Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur. The Fort carries the burden of a dark part of Mughal history. This is where Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s brother, Dara Shikoh was in exile till he lived and was executed here. This is also where Dara Shikoh spent his last days; during these days he translated the Vedas into Persian.
The Kankwari Fort was an awe-inspiring edifice in its prime with an impregnable wall, equally huge gates and turrets. Today, the fort stands in ruins with traces of the joie de vivre of Rajasthani culture, history and art inside the fort’s walls. The Fort is on a small hill inside the Sariska Tiger Reserve and offers a spectacular view from the top. It is an easy drive to the Fort.
Like the Kankwari Fort, this Fort, too, wears a darker veil. The most-talked-about parts of this Fort are its paranormal activities. Built in the year 1613 by the son of one of the well-known Mughal General, Man Singh of Amber, this fort earlier was flanked by the beautiful Aravalli ranges on its three sides. But the fort walls are in ruins today just as the fort is. The fort and the town have been deserted for many centuries on account of the belief that it is a haunted area. According to two popular legends, the fort had received a death curse by one saffron-clad ascetic – Baba Balanath and a wicked tantric Singhi Sevra, due to which it was deserted. Inside the fort, however, reside gardens, waterfalls, springs, big banyan trees and temples. The fort wears an eerily quiet look, and although visitors can visit this fort during the daytime, it is closed to visitors before sunrise and after sunset.
Praised and visited for its beautiful, scenic wonder, Pratapgarh fort is in the historical Pratapgarh town of Alwar Rajasthan. Like most other forts in and around Sariska, this one is not poles apart from Bhangarh’s history and folklore. The fort is raised high on a hill and overlooks its namesake town below.
This fort belongs to the same family line of Madho Singh. Ajab Singh Rajawat, Madho Singh’s grandson, was the architect of this Fort, which is famous for its captivating beauty. This fort is located between Bhangarh and Pratapgarh forts. Due to its proximity maybe or reasons unknown, here is another fort that takes after the stories and history of Bhangarh. From here, the Ajabgarh town and other nearby areas are clearly visible.
Besides these forts, Sariska has temples and lakes that should be on every visitor’s list. And still, if your heart beats for a first-hand view of the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Sariska Tiger Reserve beckons in all its glory. Earlier, this reserve was the reserve of the Alwar Maharajas. Today, it is a protected Tiger Reserve. One word though. If you must visit the Tiger Reserve, do give a thought to how you can contribute your mite to Project Tiger. The Tiger Reserve also houses other wild cats such as leopards, panthers; even jackals, deadly hyenas, sambar, chital, wild boars, chausingha, the rare nilgai, the porcupines, rhesus monkeys, peafowls, and many more. The sights in Sariska are a different experience; to make your stay in Sariska more worthwhile, do reserve a place in the lap of Nature at the Sterling Forest Resort in Sariska.