The Sariska Tiger Reserve is one of the most visited national parks in India, but was originally the personal hunting ground for the royalty of Alwar state.
Located just 40 kilometres from the edge of Alwar, Sariska lends the city its nickname of ‘Tiger Gate’, as the closest city and gateway to the reserve.
Stretching for 800km² with a core area of 500km², the national park is located in the northern Aravalli Hills, with sharp cliffs and valleys housing a wide variety of animal species, particularly large mammals such as wild boars, hyenas and Rhesus monkeys.
The park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 to protect the numerous animals living within its boundaries, and in 1979, Sariska gained national park status.
In the same year, Sariska was included in Project Tiger, a wildlife conservation movement aimed to protect India’s national animal, the tiger, for which the park was famous.
However, in 2005 it was revealed that there were no more tigers living in the park; poaching was blamed for the disappearance of Sariska’s tigers, which were sought after for their high value both in India and abroad for medicinal or magical properties.
In 2008, four tigers were introduced into Sariska from another reserve with the hope that they would repopulate the park; however, they struggled to breed and not long after being introduced one of the male tigers died.
Today, efforts at the breeding programme continue and it is hoped that in the next few decades Sariska will regain its strong tiger population that made it one of the most well-known national parks in India.
The park still receives a large number of visitors annually in spite of the troubles its tigers have faced in recent years.
Visitors enjoy the rich variety of other animal species within the park, and its appeal as a peaceful escape from the busy nearby cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.