Sariska Tiger Reserve
Upon exploring through and around the Sariska Tiger Reserve one understands the inexplicable beauty displayed by the tropical dry deciduous and tropical dry thorny forests of India. With the onset of monsoon, a dense undergrowth of shrubs, grasses and bushes is observed with a lush green canopy adorning the branches of deciduous trees. The lush green colour changes gradually over to greyish colour over the summer months when the leaves of these deciduous trees become grey and eventually start falling down which provides a good source of nutrition for deers, which eventually gives the jungle an overall ashy brown appearance in mid summers.
The reserve is named after the tree ‘Siris’ (Albizia lebbeck) that bears beautiful fragrant ‘powder- puff’ yellow flowers that grows into a fruit pod. The tree has many medicinal properties as the bark, leaves, seeds, and flowers are used in anti-allergy medicines.
The reserve is dotted with numerous valleys and during safaris with the slow-moving breeze brushing off the face, one gets to experience the picturesque view especially during sunrise and sunset.
The shrubs and the bushes mixed with tall meadow grasses gives an excellent hiding spot for the ambush predators like the Tigers to prey on Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, and Blue bull Antelope (Nilgai). The combined deer and antelope population is around 20,000 individuals which are seen frequently anytime of the day. The other animals to look out for are Gray Langur, Indian Boar, Striped Hyena, Ruddy and Grey Mongoose, Golden Jackals, Jungle Cat, and of course the Leopards which are abundant in Sariska with an approximate population of 220.
What you can do in the park?
Safaris are the best and the only option to visit and enjoy the varied flora and fauna of Sariska. Safaris have two options: morning and evening and can only be done via registered vehicles which have access to the any of the four safari zones at a time. Safaris within the reserve can be accessed via two gates: Gate 1 (Sariska gate) and Gate 2 (Tehla gate).
What to look out for?
Of course, the national animal of India, Tiger is the pride and the king of Sariska but another hyper carnivore, the Leopard which thrive in healthy numbers is another tourist attraction. Other than the mammals, Aves like Vultures which nest on the steep slopes of hilly terrains of the reserve are seen soaring during the noon scanning for carcasses. India is home to 9 vulture species out of which 6 species are seen and recorded in Sariska. Other birds like Indian Peafowl, Crested serpent Eagle, Bonellis Eagle, Shikra, Black winged Kite, Common and lesser Kestrel, Oriental honey Buzzard, Long legged Buzzard, White eyed Buzzard, Spotted Owlet, Indian scops Owl, and Brown fish Owl are recorded in Sariska.
Neelkanth Temple is an old temple built as a worship place for Lord Shiva which is located in the buffer zone of the reserve and is estimated to be around 1300-year-old, visited by devotees from different states. Mallana dam and Mansarovar lake are two man-made water bodies utilized to store water to suffice for agriculture purposes is visited by many winter migratory birds from the month of December to February. A visit to the one of the most haunted places of the world, the Bhangarh fort is a thrilling and chilling encounter as the locals around the fort say that they have experienced paranormal activity after sunset. An amazing geological wonder present near Tehla (Sariska) is the presence of ‘Boulders’. Boulders are amalgamation of igneous rocks that are spread out for about 12 to 15 km covering areas around the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The boulders are made of Igneous rocks and the major component of these rocks include granite and quartz. These rocks are erosion resistant and radiometric dating suggest that the boulders are even older than the Aravalli hill ranges.
Sariska is no exception as it faces anthropogenic pressures due to illegal grazing, cutting of forest woodlands, and land encroachment from nearby villages. Considering this, Sariska was included under the ‘Project Tiger’ in the year 1978 and thus protective measures were undertaken to focus on conserving the habitat and number of Tigers.
Sariska holds the world record for the first ever successful Tiger relocation from one wild habitat to another wild habitat. The relocation was done from the year 2008 to 2011, in which 8 Tigers from Ranthambore National Park were airlifted via a helicopter to Sariska. The translocation became a success when the second Tigress which was shifted gave birth to two cubs in the year 2012. Sariska is under the supervision of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which provides support used for monitoring, tracking, and protecting the Tiger population within Sariska. With a strict protocol and guidelines used by the forest department, the Tiger population within the park is 27 individuals and expected to grow to 50 in the next 3 years.
Before independence, Sariska was used as hunting ground for the royal family of Alwar which used to invite high ranked British personnel for hunting in order to please them. After Independence, the Government of India declared Sariska to be a wildlife reserve in the year 1955. Furthermore, in the year 1958, Sariska was declared as wildlife sanctuary and when the ‘Project Tiger’ was launched in the year 1973, a few years later, in 1978 Sariska was declared as ‘tiger reserve’.
The reserve is open for visitors for 3 hours after sunrise and 3 hours before sunset. The timings change as per the seasons and vary especially between summer and winter months.
• Morning: 6:30 am to 9:30 am • Evening: 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm
• Morning: 6:00 am to 9:00 am • Evening: 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Getting around the park
Registered jeeps, also known as ‘gypsies’, which can carry 6 individuals are the only mode of accessing the Tiger reserve. These ‘6-seater’ gypsies cost INR 9,876 for international tourists and INR 6246 for national tourists.