There are many strange and mysterious stories that I bet you don’t know about Sariska National Park.
Every destination has its own share of mysteries and bizarre stories that always left you curious. These stories definitely sound exciting, unreasonable though, but still deserves an eager ear.
Sometimes that adds to a lot of fun and memories to your travel. Especially while you are traveling with a friend who absolutely buys it all and makes your life hell that night. You know what I mean to say. So guys, just go through this thrilling blog and enhance your knowledge.
1) Many Haunted Towns Near Sariska National Park
Sariska is located near Alwar, Rajasthan amidst Aravalli hills with the richer greener surroundings. It covers a colossal territory of more than 800 sq. km and run by the Rajasthan Government.
Moreover, this sanctuary is an abode to a range of animals from herbivores to carnivores. It also possesses a beautiful flora and fauna.
Bhangarh – About 50 km from Sariska Wildlife Reserve
But Sariska also has lots of ghost towns and places which are full of haunted stories. The famous of them all is Bhangarh. It is on the outskirts of Sariska wildlife sanctuary. Major destruction happened at Bhangarh which led to a huge genocide.
Due to which there are still ghosts in an around Sariska which sometimes haunts the villagers in the vicinity of the park.
During the rule of Bhagwant Das, the town found in 1573. It was the home of his 2nd son Madhav Singh, the younger brother of Emperor Akbar’s general, Man Singh I.
History of Bhangarh
Madho Singh used to hunt along with his father and brother. The next ruler was his son, Chhatra Singh, after whose death in 1630, locals left Bhangarh.
When the Mughal Empire was weak, Jai Singh II took over Bhangarh by force in 1720. After the famine of 1783, the town has largely uninhabited.
Near Bhangarh, entry is prohibited between sunset and sunrise. Locals believe that spirits enter the fort after sunset.
Also, as per a legend, a sadhu Baba Balak Nath lived in the fort. He ordered that any houses built in the boundaries of the fort should not be higher than his house. If the shadow of any such house fell on his house, it would be the destruction of the fort.
Another story as per oral history, a sorcerer accomplished in black magic fell in love with the princess. One day, the sorcerer followed her to the marketplace and offered her a love concoction. The princess, Ratnavati refused it, throwing it onto a large boulder that rolled onto the wizard crushing him to death.
Other than Bhangarh, Pratapgarh, Ajabgarh, Viratnagar, Novrangpura, Thanagazi, and other such small forts are also said to be haunted.
2) Mythologically Rich – Remember The Epic “Mahabharat”
The topography of Sariska comprises scrub-thorn arid forests, rocky landscapes, dry deciduous forests, rocks, grasses, and Aravalli hills.
But besides this natural beauty, the area has a rich history and was considered one of the most important spots in Hindu culture. There is a popular belief amongst locals that Pandavas visited the area. They visited during the crucial 13th year of their exile. There are immense stories you can still hear from locals about the presence of the Pandavas.
Pandupol – Inside Sariska Tiger Reserve
Pandupol, a mythological place, is one of the best places to visit close to the Sariska National Park. Since Pandupol has a Hanuman Temple, this stands out Pandupol as altogether different from other park areas.
It has an ancient mythical belief attached to it. Pandupole was the ancient site. Bhima, one of the strongest among the Pandavas, defeated a giant demon. In return for this victory, he earned the hand of his sister, Hidimba. It also has a spring emerging from hard and compact rocks.
You can also spot langurs and birds lingering around this place. There is also a waterfall that comes alive during monsoons.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Built between 6th and 9th AD, the area also boasts of a Shiva Temple, popularly known as the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. There are several sanctums created on the outside that are also clerics graves. Photography is also not allowed in this sanctuary.
Further, there is a legend that bees prevented these temples from destruction. The bees successfully drove Aurangzeb’s army away when they came for the demolition of these ancient structures.
It is a fantastic experience for nature lovers and history buffs to come across these ruins. These ruins are amidst amazing green landscapes. The temples have interesting carvings on pillars and some statues of various mythological figures. More than 200 small temples can be found in the area.
The temple was built by Maharaja Mathanadeva Bargujar. It is evident from an inscription dated 962 CE on a rock edict found inside the Sariska. It is also mentioned by Col. James Todd in his book “Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan” written in 1829.
The temple sits on a plateau top, which is surrounded by ruined walls of the Rajorgarh Fort. The approach is a steep rough hilly track. The drive to the temple is exhausting but presents some awesome views of the landscape.
3) Best Stargazing and Astrophotography
Sariska National Park and the Aravalli range in the area is considered as the most stargazing friendly place around Delhi. This is primarily due to the presence of dense forests and Aravalli range. These ranges block the artificial lights of cities. The hills also help in blocking the air pollution from neighboring areas.
What about Sariska Topography?
Nature has given Sariska and surroundings a gift called Aravallis. Not only the hills block the Thar Desert to expand, but it also offers rich flora and fauna.
Due to the presence of pure nature, this makes Sariska Park as astrophotography friendly. The topography also blocks unnecessary light pollution from cities which makes the night skies awesome.
Astrophotography is the photography of astronomical objects in the universe which are otherwise visible only in the night sky. The first photograph of an astronomical object (the Moon) was taken in 1840. But it was not until the late 19th century, that the latest technology allowed for detailed high-resolution photography.
It is able to record the details of planetary objects such as the Moon, the Sun, and the planets as well. By doing Astrophotography, one has the ability to image such objects which are largely invisible to the human eye. You can photograph dim stars, the nebulae, and the galaxies as well.
Astrophotography And More
Photography transformed the field of professional astronomical research, performed with large telescopes nowadays. Due to long-time exposures, it is easier to record hundreds of thousands of new stars. Not to mention other celestial objects in the sky. This lead to specialized and even larger optical telescopes that were actually big cameras. They were designed to record light using photographic plates.
Astrophotography had an early role in surveys and star classification. But over time, there are a whole lot of sophisticated types of equipment which have come for this activity.
Today, astrophotography is mostly a hobby based activity. Astrophotographers are passionate, usually seeking amazing images, time-lapses and star trails. They seldom seek scientific data. They often use a wide variety of specialized types of equipment and techniques.
4) The Lost City Of Bairath – 30 km from Sariska Park
If you are a history buff and enjoy learning about archeological remains, then Bairath will definitely entertain you. About 30 km from Sariska National Park, Viratnagar is a place of both mythological and historical significance. This little known place is a wonder for those who have a deep interest in the prehistoric sites.
The History of Bairath – Matasyadesha
The history of Bairat goes back to Mahabharata. King Virata founded Viratnagar which was the capital of the ancient kingdom Matsyadesa. Pandavas are said to have spent their 13th-year of exile in Viratnagar.
Excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) revealed that the city has enough remnants. These remnants demonstrate that this was an important hub during prehistoric times.
Bairat was also a part of the Mauryan Empire. The ruins of the Bijak-ki-Pahadi, a Buddhist Chaitya (chapel) from the 3rd century BCE, is located in Bairat. It is the oldest standing Buddhist structures in India till date.
The town also has ruins of a Buddhist monastery and a wood shrine. Two rock-cut edicts (Bairat and Bhabru Edicts), from the era of Emperor Ashoka, were also found.
Archaeological digging reveals that Viratnagar was once a thriving town. It was a period between the 3rd century BCE and 1st century CE. Around 36 coins have been found here in a clay pot wrapped in a cotton cloth. This is also a piece of evidence that during those times, cotton weaving was also popular.
Ashoka’s Period History
An equally significant discovery was that of 2 edicts of Mauryan emperor Ashoka was also found. One of them was “Bhabru Edict”, which is now located in the Museum of The Asiatic Society, Calcutta. Another is “Bairat edict” which is still present in Viratnagar under Bhim Ki Dungri.
In these edicts, Ashoka emphasized that he is the king of the Mauryan Empire. He also mentioned that he believes in the 3 gems of Buddhism. The 3 gems were – Budha, Dhamma, and Sang. He also stressed the importance of studying Buddhist textbooks.
On top of the Bijak-ki-Pahadi, are the remains of a Buddhist stupa and a monastery. These remains are spread across two platforms connected by rock stairs. The upper platform of the monastery are remains of the cells of monks. Whereas on the lower platform was a circular
Buddhist Chaityagriha or prayer hall with a stupa in its center. This is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the whole of India.
Interestingly, there are a number of copper objects found in the excavations. These objects led archaeologists to believe that a foundry was located at the site. The foundry was used to make objects of use for the monastery.
It was only in the 15th century during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, that the Viratnagar region was resettled again.
Viratnagar has a number of Mughal structures as well, including a cenotaph called Chhatri. This cenotaph is some of the oldest endured murals in Rajasthan. A small hunting lodge is also there, where the Mughal emperor Akbar hunted and stayed over the night on his annual pilgrimages to Ajmer.
Also, there is a presence of huge copper mines in the region used to make copper utensils and articles.
Lots of Monuments to Explore
Many legends are associated with it and monuments in Viratnagar prove of its historical importance. Even now people believe that the place has a lot of treasure buried underneath. Locals talk about a man became rich just a couple of years ago. The man was doing the construction of his house when he found a treasure.
Viratnagar also has a museum that houses some found artifacts from Bairat’s long-forgotten history. It includes many sculptures, old coins, broken pottery, government seals and few metal objects.
Viratnagar also has a gorgeous Jain Temple: Shri Parshvanath Digambar Jain Nasiyan temple. Many people from the Jain community during an annual festival visit these temples.
A Chinese traveler “Huen Tsang” had also visited Viratnagar and has documented the same in his travel book.
This town and its surroundings also have many ancient boulders. These strange boulders represent human skull shapes and animal shapes. This may be purely coincidental as more research is needed to conclusively figure the cause of these.
5) Where Have All The Tigers Gone in Sariska National Park?
The wildlife enthusiasts who have already visited the area know what I am talking about. However, not many people know that there are 224 species of birds and 30,000 animals in Sariska National Park.
The Past of Sariska National Park
Sariska Tiger Reserve achieved the reputation of being a wildlife sanctuary in 1978 coming under the famous Project Tiger.
In 2004, a number of reports said that no tigers were spotted in the tiger reserve. As a matter of fact, there was no evidence as well of the tiger’s presence such as pug marks, scratch marks on trees, etc.
Further, in January 2005, a journalist Jay Mazoomdaar broke the news in newspapers that there were no tigers left in Sariska National Park. Soon the Rajasthan Forest Department, and the then director of Project Tiger declared that a tiger census will be conducted in Sariska immediately.
Thereafter, the Central Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence agency in India, conducted an exhaustive probe into the matter.
After a long 2 month investigation, they finally declared that Sariska did not have any tigers left. Poaching and theft were openly blamed for the vanishing of tigers. 3 tigers were relocated back to the reserve in order to repopulate tigers in Sariska. Authorities then planned to relocate 2 more tigers by the end of the next year.
Thereafter the tiger population thrived. Now the Sariska national park is the first-ever sanctuary in the world to have successfully relocated tigers.
The Present of the Important Wildlife Reserve
Presently, there are 18 tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve of which 4 are male, 9 are females and 5 tiger cubs. Wildlife enthusiasts have welcomed This significant increase in the tiger population. As a result, the footfall of tourists has increased multifold.
More on the flora of Sariska, it is primarily replete with trees like Dhok. The trees are more of the dry deciduous kind. They are covering the depths of the surroundings for up to 90% of the sanctuary.
In the dense forest, Salar trees can be found in vertical slants followed by Khair and Cheela growing in the valley. Other popular ones of Aam, Jamun, Arjun and Bahera trees. They are visible by the river banks spreading an enigmatic aroma around the reserve. Few bamboo trees can also be found.
The bird species at Sariska consists of grey Patridge, horned owls, tree pies, sand grouses, crested serpent eagle, woodpeckers, amongst others. The sanctuary itself holds more than 224 bird species around the year.
In a recent survey by naturalists, a total of 224 bird species was recorded from different sites and habitats. Of these, 15 bird species were frugivorous, 32 omnivorous, 27 piscivorous, 114 insectivorous, 15 granivorous and 30 carnivorous in their feeding habits.
The Future of Sariska and Surroundings
36 new species of birds were added to Sariska’s avifauna in this study -Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Plain leaf Warbler, White-capped Water Redstart. It also included Blue Rock Thrush, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Grey-winged Blackbird, Long-legged Buzzard, Marshall’s Iora. Some of them are Tawny Eagle, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Tawny Pipit, Orange-headed Thrush, Northern Goshawk, Red-necked Falcon and Ultramarine Flycatcher.
Significantly, the resident birds (128 species) outnumber the winter (89) and summer migratory birds (7).
Sariska National Park is a significant conservation unit for the avifauna in the whole Aravalli Hills stretch. Many endangered bird species such as the Egyptian Vulture and Red-headed Vulture (endangered and critically endangered respectively), White-rumped Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Laggar Falcon, Darter and Painted Stork (near threatened) can be found here.
The topography and diversity of habitats – for instance, the water bodies, lakes, dense forest, scrub forest, open land and surrounded by agricultural fields provided different strata and guilds, which increased the diversity of birds.
The presence of 22 raptor species including scavengers. These are vulture which signifies the importance of the area in terms of healthy ecosystems.
Out of 10 surveyed sites, the Kalighati Valley, Karankawas, Pandupole, and Siliserh Lake were the most bird-rich areas.
Siliserh – A Blessing or a Threat
Siliserh Lake and its surrounding forest are very important for water birds and migratory birds. But this lake is under serious threat from tourism and local pressures. People from the surrounding villages use this lake for their daily needs. They collect fuelwood, fodder, and timber from the nearby forest. Livestock feeding on the bank of the lake is another threat to the birds.
After the relocation of tigers, the habitat situation has improved in Sariska but many threats still do exist. Pandupole Temple attracts thousands of religious tourists from June till September. This influx of people poses a serious threat to the fragile ecosystem of Sariska.
Delving more into the flora, Ber and Adusa are also part of the forest along with the grain varieties of Zizyphus and Grewia. The leaves that come down of the Dhok trees assist in filling up herbivores for almost all the dry summer days while the forests turn impressively greener during monsoon and get arid and dry by the spring season.
Significantly known for its tigers, Sariska National Park accounts for plenty of other wildlife species including herbivores, carnivores, and various bird species. There are Wild Dogs, Jackals, Porcupines, Nilgai, Chital, Sambhar, Caracal, Jungle Cats, Jaguar, and Hyena, amounting to a mixed variety of both herbivores and carnivores in the wildlife sanctuary.
You can also spot the popular Chausingh or Four-horned antelopes near the Pondupole Nallah. You can also find Rhesus Monkeys filling up the forests of Sariska. Mischievous Langurs, which you can also see near Pandupole, Slopka, and Kalighati.
Bikamp has a campsite near Sariska named Bikamp Aravalli’s Camp-Resort. If you are planning for an offbeat and adventurous experience, you can get in touch at email@example.com or call us at +91 – 9818824450 / 9549919666
Bikamp Adventures has permanent campsites at Leh, Ladakh as well.