Last January, some friends and I were headed for a wedding in Jaipur from Delhi. While the capital was freezing in peak winter temperatures, we were all set to enjoy the relatively warmer and rosier Pink City. We managed to book a reliable and top-rated taxi from Delhi to Jaipur and headed out on a cold winter morning from Delhi.
Ending up in Alwar
Ideally, if we had driven straight on NH 48, we would have reached Jaipur by afternoon. But then, my friends and I are not the kinds who would just hop in a car and sit through 5 hours without anything exciting or thrilling to do on the way. After all, isn’t that what a road trip is all about? So we deviated from our route and that made all the difference. As soon as we crossed into Rajasthan, we saw the exit to SH 25 for Alwar and asked our cabbie to make a detour. We just wanted to try a different route and experience the drive through Rajasthan before hitting Jaipur. Little did we know that it would turn into one adventurous day!
We stopped at Alwar to refuel when we decided that since we were so close to Sariska National Park, we might as well make another stop.
A tour of Sariska
The state of Rajasthan never ceases to amaze its visitors, and we were no exception. Like its lavish royalty, its natural wonders are equally delightful. As soon as we neared the park, the otherwise warm air of the region turned cool. The forest cover was dominated by the leafless ‘dhok’ trees, which are endemic to this state. Although winter had dried up much of the forest cover, some parts with evergreen trees still remained. We drove around a camping area with small cottages and tents and reached the park office. Since outside vehicles are not allowed for exploring the park, we had to opt for an afternoon safari.
The four-hour tour started with our guide giving us an orientation of the 800 sq. km. of the National Park. The Jeep cut through dry deciduous trees and partly-green grasslands, with the sharp cliffs and rocky hills of the Aravali Hills running parallel to our trail.
Now, if there is one reason why I always love sanctuaries, national parks, and forest tours, is the chance of seeing the wild in the wild- raw, untainted, and untrained. And I was hoping to see some real predators. As our guide ran us through the long list of animals who inhabit the park, like the leopard, jungle cats, hyena, chital, and sambhar deer, Nilgai, antelopes, macaques, wild boar, and more, I already started noticing one or two of these secondary members (the primaries are the big cats of course). A flock of deer was scampering around the thicker parts, peeping through the leaves, while a herd of Nilgai was busy finishing off their afternoon drink. No other animal was to seen anywhere, except for a few stray peacocks which constantly kept screaming at each other.
There are certain things you can only expect in historical places. You might have seen the most beautiful national parks, but a forest with temple relics is something a place like Rajasthan can offer. We passed the ruins of the medieval temple of Garh- Rajor, which dates back to the 10th and the 11th centuries.
Just as we were heading back, we spotted a pair of dark, fuzzy, and fluffy sloth bears who were crossing the forest trail but quickly ran into the woods, on hearing our vehicle.
In all, it was a detour well-made, and a day well-spent.
If you want to explore this wonder of Rajasthan, then get a car on rent in Jaipur or Delhi that is inexpensive, and head out on NH 48. Don’t forget to make a little exit here and there if anything interests you. You never know you might land at a fascinating place like I did!