A little over 200 kilometres from the pulsating Indian capital of New Delhi, there lies a quiet paradise, where hundreds of winged creatures live, and “tweet” still means birdsong.
Covered all around by dry deciduous forests, cliffs and valleys of the Aravali Hills, Sariska Bird Sanctuary stretches over an area of 800 sq. km. It makes an ideal getaway from the constant hum-thrum of the city.
Bonus: Sariska is surrounded by places of historical importance, temples and fascinating monuments, so once you are done visiting the sanctuary, you can go hiking and explore the ruins of the past. It is also a good place for stargazing at night.
Until the 19th century, Sariska used to be the hunting domain of the Maharaja of Alwar. In 1958, it was declared a wildlife park, and in 1979, it became a part of Project Tiger. By 1982, Sariska had acquired the status of a National Park.
The Birds at Sariska
Although primarily a tiger reserve, Sariska is a delightful spot for bird lovers, too. It houses India’s largest number of peacocks. During the monsoon season, you can see them dancing with their open wings—a marvellous sight to behold.
More than 200 other species of birds call Sariska home. If you travel to the park in the peak season, the sheer music of chirrup, squawk, screech and coo will delight your heart. Feast your eyes on the Great Indian Horned Owl or the Tiger Owl which is a huge owl native to America; the Crested Serpent Eagle, a bird of prey that is found across tropical Asia; Sandgrouse, commonly found in arid land of central and northern Africa, and southern Asia—this one can easily win a bird’s beauty contest.
Apart from these you can watch the White-breasted Kingfisher that comes from Eurasia, the bird from Iran called Drongo, and the colourful Parakeets tweeting all over the park. Golden Backed Woodpeckers, Bush Quail, Grey Partridges, Tree Pies, Red Jungle Fowl, Sunbirds, Spur Fowl are among the other varieties that you can spot.
Sariska also attracts a lot of migratory birds from Siberia and China during the winter months.
Watching these beautiful, carefree creatures living a life in their natural setting, gives you a fresh perspective on life.
The Old Fort
Sariska houses the remains of 11th century temples of Garh-Rajor. There is a 17th century Mughal fort on a hilltop at Kankwari that gives a scenic view of the sanctuary.
According to historians, the last Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb, kept his brother Prince Darah Shikoh prisoner here. Today, vultures and eagles fly atop this abandoned fort, adding to the sense of thrill.
- Carry a strong pair of binoculars and a camera.
- You can rent a bicycle or walk along the trails at the Sariska National Park to experience the thrill of spotting a rare bird, or catch them singing.
- Before and after the rains, wildlife is drawn to the Park’s water holes, and you stand a better chance of viewing them.
- Early morning and the hour before sunset are the best times to watch birds, when they are at their most active.
- You can also opt for a trained field guide who can explain to you about the various kinds of birds and their original homes.
Ideal time to visit
The period between October and April is the most perfect time for bird watching in the sanctuary. The climate here is usually dry and touches the extremes, so pack your clothing accordingly.
How to reach
Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary is located off the Delhi-Alwar-Jaipur road.
The nearest airport is in Jaipur (120 km).
The nearest railway station is at Alwar, Rajasthan (36 km).
A car drive from Delhi takes about 6 hours.
Learn more about one of the winged beauties of the Reserve – The Great Indian Horned Owl!