Wildlife encounters- Visit to the Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan

Rajasthan being one the nearest destinations to Delhi, this time around we planned a trip to the Sariska Tiger Reserve located at about 185 kms. We started off early from Gurgaon taking the NH8. It took about 3 hours by our car to reach the resort we had booked on the Viratnagar- Alwar road. The journey was smooth although across the entire stretch a new flyover is being constructed that made the remaining road quite congested at times. However, once we reach the Viratnagar- Alwar road on the left, driving through the winding roads flanked by various mountain ranges, the view becomes amazing. Dotted with villages, the road offers breathtaking views of the mountain ranges. One can see villagers walking past tending to their routine chores of selling mud and bamboo utensils or fending their goats or even smoking leisurely on hookas.

Viratnagar- Alwar road

Viratnagar- Alwar road



We reached the Gulmohar Sariska Resort, our abode for the trip. A decent property, spaciously standing on the Viratnagar- Alwar road, this resort enjoys quite a coveted location.

Gulmohar- Sariska resort

Gulmohar- Sariska resort

Gulmohar sariska resort from inside

Gulmohar sariska resort from inside

It attracts a good number of tourists all through the tourist season. We reached the resort by 2pm and treated ourselves to a sumptuous lunch. The food is good and the rooms are well maintained and offer great views and landscapes.

In the evening we woke up to a nice cloudy weather and decided to explore the nearby destinations. Just about a kilometer from the resort is the Hanuman/Ganesh temple which is believed to have appeared on its own(Swayambhu). Thus it attracts many devotees throughout the year. Another half a kilometer drive back on the main road leads one to the road that meanders through the villages and takes one to the Jain Nashea or the ancient Jain temple.

The Jain Nashea

The Jain Nashea

The roads are quite narrow and at some stretches only one vehicle can pass thus it is advisable to be quite vigilant and drive safely. The villagers alongside are quite eager to help all through. Just at the end of one of the forks one can see a narrow road leading to Bhim ki dungari and the other towards Jain nashea. taking the left road ends on the red sandstone gate leading to the majestic Jain temple. The view of the main temple is quite soothing standing tall against the backdrop of the setting sun straining through the dark clouds. Just to the left of the road leading to the Jain temple is the Mughal era structure which is believed to be emperor Akhbar’s place of rest during his long hunting expeditions

bheen ki dungari

Bheen ki Dungree

King Akhbar's rest house

King Akhbar’s rest house

Coming back towards the fork leads one to Bhim ki dungari. The story dates back to Mahabharat times when the Pandavas were sent to exile and had to live with hidden identities or “agyaatvaas”. The caves were abodes of the Pandavas then. It is believed Bhim stamped his foot on the ground to bring forth a stream of water to quench the thirst of his brothers and wife.

Other places of interest include the “bijjak ki pahari” which are the remains of two 634 AD Buddhist monasteries.

bijak ki pahari

bijak ki pahari

Thus all in all Viratnagar stands as the true symbol of secularism boasting of rich cultural heritage and religious tolerance.

While we returned back to our resort, although we were extremely tired with the day long journey yet way too excited for the ensuing animal safari which was booked for the next day early morning 6am.
Next day we woke up at about 5am and drove to the Sariska tiger reserve’s main entrance. It took us a drive of about 18 kms through the sleepy state highway to reach the main entrance. We were really looking forward to the safari with the most cherished desire in our hearts to be lucky enough to witness a tiger in all its grandeur.

Sariska Tiger Reserve entrance

Sariska Tiger Reserve entrance

Entry to sariska tiger reserve

Entry to sariska tiger reserve

We were greeted by groups of monkeys and deers all through the route and especially monkeys perched on the roof top of the reception of the booking counter. Animal safaris at Sariska tiger reserve are held in either gypsies or canters.

The jungle safari

The jungle safari

Deers in the reserve

Deers in the reserve

Gypsies are meant for small groups and can house six tourists while the driver is accompanied with the guide. After depositing the requisite papers at the counter, one gypsy with driver and guide is assigned to six passengers. Thus we jumped into the gypsy which would be our companion for the next 3 hours and began our journey into the tiger reserve with crossed fingers and smile on our faces.

peacock inside the reserve

peacock inside the reserve

Reserve terrain

Reserve terrain

The water hole

The water hole

We trudged through the thick foliage making way into the magnificent deciduous jungle flaked by dhok tress, grasses and huge mountain ranges all through. The journey transports one to the dauntless forest safaris shown on discovery channel except for the fact that here we were a part of the adventure. The rocky terrain, the melodious calls of birds, the alluring sights of deers, nilgais, sambhars and peacocks just takes the breath away. Being so close to animals and birds in their natural habitat is just so wondrous.

And yet somewhere deep in our hearts we desired to see the national animal “tiger” spring out of its hiding place!
No sooner we passed by a water hole our driver and guide were informed of a tiger sighting nearby. The thrill in our blood got unbearable, our driver drove at high speed through the rugged terrain and parked the car on top of the range overlooking the water hole so that we could spot the tigress. We waited with skipped heart beat but no one appeared.

monkeys in the reserve

monkeys in the reserve

We thought the tigress had gone to hiding and would not come out. The sun was beginning to shine hard now and in just awhile from now all the animals would go into their hiding places to rest for the day. We were really dejected so close and yet so far away. But just then our driver started to reverse the gypsy and suddenly we spotted the tigress crossing the lane we had just crossed. The sight of a tigress moving around so gallantly was indeed amazing. But no sooner did she appear did she disappeared back into the wild baring the fact that this time the driver knew her location. She was hidden in the foliage around the water hole. Our driver reversed the gypsy further and when we reached the bank of the water hole we saw her strolling past the water hole in all her valor. The sight was just awe inspiring! All of us were stunned to see the dauntless creature walking past in all its grandiose.

Majestic tigress in the reserve

Majestic tigress in the reserve

While we were still smitten by her sight she was least interested and walked past the water hole deep into the dense forest. We waited further for her to change her mind but in vain. Our driver steered the gypsy through and drove higher up the track further into another region of the reserve. While the trees cleared we could see another water hole appear in front of us in the more plainer area. While we drove to the water body, we were greeted by dancing peacocks and various other varieties of birds and deers who had come to quench their thirst, and suddenly we spotted a couple of crocodiles running swiftly from the banks and delving deep into the water. For some time it was as if it was just nature and us, no other thought… no other emotion, a new world where we in touch with our inner self… where we were witnessing the beauty of nature..where we were overwhelmed by her raw power.

Our trip to the reserve got completely justified and we felt blessed to have chosen the destination this time of the year. Way back to Delhi we were so encouraged by the success of having been able to see the tiger that we decided Ranthambore as our next wildlife destination.

25 Comments

  • h.l. singh says:

    thanks i liked your writing and photos

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Good Post Mala Ji.

    It’s very rare to see tiger in Sariska. You are really lucky.

    I have visited there in October but only monkeys, peacock, deers were there.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • mala says:

      Thanks Saurabh ji,

      Yes indeed we were lucky as its difficult to sight tigers according to the locals and guides. It was great thrill to witness the tigress roaming around so fearlessly and in full grandeur.

  • Harish Bhatt says:

    Hello Mala,

    You were very lucky. Tiger sighting are very rare in Sariska. There was a time when tigers were completely wiped out of Sariska but under the project tiger; initially two tigers were relocated from Ranthambore. And they are also running a successful breading program now. Do you know the current exact number of tigers in Sariska? I have been to Ranthambore twice and to Sariska once and a couple of times to Jim Corbett but have NEVER seen a tiger in the wild. I have a trip scheduled to Ranthambore on 23rd of this month and hoping wishing and praying that this record will change this time.

    You might be interested in reading this: https://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/04/20/ranthambore/

    https://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/05/08/ranthambore-my-machaan/

    Thanks for sharing your story
    Harish

    • mala says:

      Hi Harish,

      Thanks for your anecdotes and information. So enthused i was seeing the tiger that now i have to go to Ranthambore, however, quite contrary to what you say, the local guides told us tigers are often sighted in Ranthambore. Also the programme on Discovery channel or Animal planet, i don’t remember now exactly, often show the wild life expert and photographer travel to Ranthambore and observe the tigers…some famous one’s being Macchali, sundari and sita:)…hope i remember their names perfectly. Anyways i guess spotting wildlife is surely a matter of good luck though…

      I will surely read through the links you have mentioned. Thanks again and wish you luck on tiger sighting this time around.

      • Harish Bhatt says:

        You are right Mala, Tiger sighting in Ranthabore is very common. All my friends who accompanied me saw the King. The king of the jungle is not slave to anyone and may or may not wish to appear. I guess its just me who he does not wish to show himself even after so many years & trips to various tiger reserves. Thank you for wishing me good luck. I really need it.

        Somehow I have a very strong feeling that I have met/seen you some ages ago; probably in Satya Niketan . Never know its a small

  • After a long time Mala and it’s a nice post indeed.
    Seeing the big cat in the forest is everyone’s dream and you are really very fortunate to see her.

    ‘ll plan to visit sometime this year and hope to be lucky like you.

    • mala says:

      Hi Amitava,

      Yes after a long time:).

      Sure enough we were lucky to spot the tigress, wish you luck on that, try going during the onset of winters thats a much better time to spot one.

  • philipmathai says:

    I have v seen Tiger in Zoo only. It is my dream to see a tiger in wild. Nice photos and good description.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    You log starts very humbly with all the details of Viratnagar, with no mention of what is in store. :-) I was not aware of Viratnagar’s monuments at all, though I drove through that area in Jan only.

    The pic is not very clear, probably because it was evening and you may not have enough light. Thank you for sharing Mala. And about the Ranthambore talk, we also had a great sighting there so wishes.

    • mala says:

      Thanks Nandan,

      Viratnagar basically is famous for Sariska Tiger Reserve so i guess no one tried to explore its heritage. I was really bowled over to see a place so less known except for the wildlife reserve had so much in its womb. A nice modest place free of guides so one has to explore by oneself.

      True the pics are not clear due to dim light, either evening or early morning snaps driving through the forest on the jeep.

      Hope to be even more lucky with Ranthambore and Sunderbans.:)

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Mala,

    I was not aware of Viratnagar’s treasure trove of monuments. Thanks for sharing.

    We were in Sariska about ten years ago and kept our eyes peeled for the cats. Later we came to know that there were no tigers left.

    Lucky you. Nice description especially describing the sight of the tigress.

    • mala says:

      Thanks Nirdesh,

      Am happy you enjoyed the write up. Sariska was devoid of tigers back then(10 yrs ago, as you mention) but then tigers were introduced to Sariska from Ranthambore and other places.

      Guess now if you could go there you might be lucky to witness one.

  • Vipin says:

    Hi Mala Ji, beautiful account of your jungle adventure…loved it thoroughly…and Virat Nagar was a great value add to this log…I have been to a couple of places in this region and now am in love with this place…there is so much hidden in this part of the aravali that the more you explore, the more appears to tease you…

    Being in Jungle is itself a great experience and then a royal meeting with the King of the jungle is surely a plus plus….like Harish bhai, i have been to a couple of Tiger Reserves (Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Kaziranga etc)…but it’s the same story…perhaps the tiger knows that we are coming…:)…kyon Harish bhai? May we be lucky this time!……Thanks for sharing!

    • mala says:

      Thanks Vipin,

      Viratnagar is a beautiful place in itself due to its cultural heritage…which is although not advertised and thus mostly only locals know about them and believe me they are very helpful to guide the tourists.

      Yes i agree to what you say inspite of everything basically its the tiger we go to witness, guess i have been lucky:) and wish you luck for your tiger sighting the next time around.

  • Hi Mala,

    Although I haven’t ever been to Sariska / Ranthambore etc., travelling with you in the gypsy through the Tiger Reserve – even if vicariously through your post gave me sufficient reason to classify this place as a ‘must see’ while roaming in Rajasthan. I have not even been to Jaipur / Bharatpur till date.

    Spotting a tiger in a forest does release some adrenalin into our blood stream. I have seen tigers in the zoo recently in Indore but watching a tiger in captivity can never be as much fun even if there is ample space granted to a tiger to move around in a zoo. However, you would see whatever I saw while in Indore in my presently running series on Indore.

    Some of your pics are not as detailed as they could be, but the reasons may be the absence of a powerful zoom in your camera / shooting conditions / lack of technical knowledge etc. If you took pics from moving gypsy, that again is a difficult task. In any case, your text more than compensates for that. :)

    Thanks for sharing this post, which seems to be the first of yours encountered by me here on Ghumakkar.

    Thank you for

    • mala says:

      Thanks Sushant ji,

      I am more than satisfied that i could make Sariska so alluring to you:). Indeed witnessing wildlife in a reserve is anytime more adventurous than seeing them in cages. Will surely read through your articles on Indore.

      Pictures are not of very good quality due to lack of light and also clicking while moving around in the gypsy as the guides and drivers don’t stop the vehicle and tourists are not allowed to step out of the vehicle either. So i guess better luck next time:)

      Am happy you liked the post, i have written some posts, about 11, but i guess the frequency remains a couple every year.

      • It is indeed a matter of great solace for me that the zoo keepers in Indore haven’t kept the tigers in cages there. Instead, they have tried to simulate the living conditions with the original for these wild beasts – giving them company of fellow beings and a large area to move around. If it is not a tiger reserve, it is not a caged zoo either.

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    very lucky to see the queen in her empire.

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Hi Mala
    Congratulations on your t-log being adjudged the featured story for the month of May. I was in ViratNagar the same day i.e.., 21st april 2013 as you were so i can call it a coincidence ..he he he … … It is a good read although i certainly have some apprehensions with the historical details which you have given here majorily about the remnants of the buddhist stupa at Beejak ki Pahadi .
    Archeologists have found two stone cut inscriptions of Mauruyan age …inscribed in Pali language by Emperor Ashoka from Beejak ki Pahadi..which clearly states that these monasteries and stupa were built around 3rd century BC (around 300 BC) and not 634 AD as you mentioned here.By 500 AD ,with the advent of foreign invaders like Huns this monument was completely vandalized… I think you have not visited the museum which houses all the things excavated from beejak ki pahadi in 1935 … it also has the picture of the stone cut inscription of Ashokan era. The Jain temple in Nasiya are not ancient… It used to be a part of the palaces built by the Maharaja of Jaipur for Akbar. It is known as Nau Mahla because it is ornamented with 9 beautiful cenotaphs ( chatris) on top. It used to be the palace built for women of royal lineage …. In later ages around 18 or 19th century it was gifted to the Swetambari Jains …. hence these temples are not of any ancient prominence . Akbar’s residence during his visits to Dargah sharif which is very near to Nasiya Jain temple is also missing here …

    Mala Ji there are more than thousands or lakhs of visitors here on ghumakkar who rely on our stories …so we have greater responsibilities in imparting right information to them … Pictures of Sariska were good …

    Regards
    Giriraj

  • Nikita says:

    Hi, nice to read your story. Even I spotted a tiger at the Sariska Tiger Reserve. You can read about it at my blog http://meowlife.blogspot.com/2013/12/my-tiger-sighting-at-sariska-tiger.html

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