Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary...Lake Siliserh and a few crazy friends!
There is something magical about Saturdays....you get the gush of adrenaline, when you are a travel freak, the minute it dawns on you to take charge of the weekend. I had not traveled the entire part of this year, beginning of course from Chennai, Mahabalipuram trip and then going all the way to Sariska Tiger Reserve.
En route, we stopped over in the outskirts of Delhi, Manesar for a nice dinner...finally and I think in ages must have had such an amazing Dal Makhani. It was finger licking good. The name of the Dhaba is Ravi Hotel and the best part is that it was filled with people. So the food was fresh and so were the Rotis. I think a great meal for four hungry stomachs with dals, veggies, paneer and rotis came under INR 500/ for us !
With food in our stomachs and Ravi on the wheels....Sariska seemed an easy 3 hour drive, little did we know that there would be one of the biggest roadblocks at night on the highway. The good thing was that we all got to sleep and dozed off in our car for almost an hour !!
Now the road directions, Sariska is in Rajasthan and one of the most prominent towns nearby is Alwar. So if you need to drive from Delhi, go to Gurgaon and take the left road towards Alwar. This gets a bit tricky here in Gurgaon and most often people end up taking the Delhi - Jaipur Road.
From Gurgaon be on NH 8 and take the road via Manesar. From Manesar reach Dharuhera and change to SH 25 and proceed straight towards Tijara. On the way if you see places like Kishangarh and Ghasoli....you know you are on the right track. Keep going on SH 25 till you reach Alwar and then change to SH 13 towards Sariska. The road starts to get bad about 6 - 7 kms ahead of the Reserve and trust me....its really bad !
My friend knew a lot of people in the region and we drove straight into the Government Tourist Bungalow just outside the Tiger Reserve to freshen up. Our local guide cum driver would meet us up in the Tourist Reserve itself. I think it was around 8:30 in the morning and nothing was better than the beds and the washroom !!!
We dozed off for almost half an hour until we were woken up by our guide, who was one of the Forest Rangers. He drove us in a Bolero to the Tiger Reserve and the good thing was that he knew the places. The first impression of the reserve is grand itself and we were told that there were about 6 - 7 tigers in the Reserve now. Sariska had become notorious for rampant poaching and in fact in a matter of few years the entire Tiger population at Sariska had been wiped out.
Thanks to the efforts of a few wildlife conservationists, the Government has now become active in recent years and steps have been taken to revive the Tiger population. In fact a few tigers have been relocated from Ranthambore to Sariska and they seem to be doing pretty well. It was while you drive inside the forest that you realize how naive we all are. Inside the forests there are no traffic rules and nobody will stop by to look at a BMW or a Ferrari....the tiger is the only one that everyone rares for a glimpse. We were now deep inside the forest and reached a water hole where in a few yards from us we saw crocodiles sun bathing and deer drinking water very cautiously. All along the road we could see other people driving out of the National Park.....as the tour starts at 6 am in the morning and obviously we were horribly late !! Thank Goodness that this is India and things still work due to a great network and even more amazing friends. While the rest of the world was moving out of the Park (the park gates open at 6 am and close at 10 am and thereafter between 3 - 6 pm) we were entering the Park !
The Park Ranger told us that the private jeeps charge INR 2000/ for a round of the park and you must book one prior to the day of the visit as the jeeps are limited. All private jeeps have to compulsorily be run by the vendors only and one cannot take his/ her own vehicle inside the Park. We were in seventh heaven because we now had the entire 800 sq km area all to ourselves !!
Nestled in the Aravalis, Sariska was once the hunting ground for Maharajas.