There is always a part of history that dominates others, save the ink by which it is written on the pages of time. Some leave grave imprints on the sands as they pass by, others are washed away camly by the seasons. Alwar, also known as the Tiger Gate of Rajasthan, nestles between several small hills, maneuvering a picturesque postcard setting and looks with a dramatically forbidding fort at the backdrop, as if carved magnificently out of the rugged rocks of Aravallis. Once a part of the ancient Matsya Desh kingdom, this tiny pack of surprises is now a part of Rajasthan, the north-western state of India. Whether it is the famous 'kalakand' or their carefree attitude to life, the people have always believed in originality of ideas than to submit their luck to some alien rule. The grandeur and beauty of the delicate forts and palaces dotting the region, stately hunting lodges at Sariska, sites of archeological importance on lapidarian hills, lush green deciduous forests where several birds and animals cohabit in an equally diverse socio-cultural domain, have made this region a traveller's delight, the true attractions of Alwar.
Alwar tourism is the way to censor historical contravention, Alwar can be framed as both the oldest and the newest of the Rajput Kingdoms of Rajasthan. On one hand, it traces its tradition back to the kingdoms of Viratnagar, that flourished here around 1500 B.C. It was also known as 'Matsya Desh' where the Pandavs, the invincible heroes of Mahabharata, spent the last year of their 13 year expatriation. However, the first significant mention of Alwar in any historical context dates back to 1265, when Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq barged in the capital of Mewat with an intention to overturn the inveterate bandits of the region. The city of Alwar is believed to have been founded in 1720 by a member of the Kachh family, Rajput Pratap Singh, who hailed from Amber (Jaipur). It was also one of the first Rajput states to ally itself with the incipient British Empire, which, unfortunately, later turned into a reason for English interference in Alwar's internal affairs.
Quite contrary to its name, the Bala Quila (young fort)
is one of the very few forts in Rajasthan framed before the rise of the
Mughal empire. Predating the time of Pratap Singh, the fort today with its
magnetic beauty, towering on a forsaken hill, dominates the town. The famous Alwar fort
now houses a radio transmitter, so don't forget to take a special
permission from the police superintendent for entry. Walk a few steps to
reach the Nikumbha Mahai Palace at the top, embellished with graceful
Bengal-caned marble columns and sublimely latticed balconies. Below the
fort is the large, imposing City Palace complex, its sprawling ramparts
are lined by a beautifully symmetrical chain of ghats, with four pavilions
on each side and two at each end. Once this palace was part of the
Maharajahs' opulent lifestyle, today however, the palace has been
converted into the district's collectorate, and its numerous hall and
chambers is occupied by government offices.
Travel to Alwar and don't miss the Government Palace Museum displaying an excellent and comprehensive royal collection along with several uncanny artifacts like the illustrated Mahabharata on a 200 -foot-long scroll! The beautiful brocades are trimmed with stone sculptures including an 11th century model of Lord Vishnu. There are also some fine 'Ragamala' paintings and miniatures from the Alwar, Bundi, and Mughal schools. Walk along the glassed armory section, which has some historic swords belonging to the likes of Sultan Muhammad Ghori, Emperor Akbar and Aurangzeb (don't get petrified to see those giant shoulders of war). Look at those extraordinary exhibits endorsing the wealth of the Mewat maharajahs - a pair of ivory slippers, a silver dining table with lions' feet legs, a drinking cup cut out of a single emerald, a 'sitar' in the shape of a peacock, and a mammoth, double storied four-elephant carriage - to name a few. The museum is open throughout the week except on Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm.
Visit the cenotaph of Maharaja Bakhtawar Singh, a fine example of Indo-Islamic style of red sand-stone architecture. Also known as the 'Chattri of Moosi Rani', this double-storeyed edifice also houses sculpted footprints of the deceased royal couple, a homege to the sacred immolation of the mortal instincts in the funeral pyre (sati). Enter the interiors of the cenotaph (shoes should be removed) to witness the mythological and court scenes, in fading gold leaf painting, that adorn the ceilings.
Drive around 31 km to reach the the hunting preserve of the Alwar royals, the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary. The park is an habitat for a robust avian population. During late summer and in the monsoon months, it is fun to see large numbers of peacocks with their tail feathers fanned out and doing their famous shimmering "dance". One can also to spot a number of herbivores at close range in the dry decidious forests. Drive a few miles (70 km) west of Rajgarh town to reach the Nilkantha temple, an archeologically interesting place with 360 step-wells and 360 temple mounds (out of which only 25 has been uncovered). Look for the beautiful sculptures, carvings bedecking the rich ceilings of the shrine. You can also visit the Kankwari fort, 36 km from Alwar. This is the place where Aurangzeb held his brother Dara Shikoh as a prisoner.
Alwar Tourism offers tourists shopping options for colourful bangles dolling the
shops at the slender lanes of Hope Circus. Get a few of those leather
worked exquisite 'Mojaris' or embroidered juties at the Sarafa Bazar.
Taste the delicious sweet-meat speciality of milk, Kalakand and hot gulab
jamun served with vanilla icecream - and linger the taste throughout your
life. You can also look for live performances by local craftsmen -
terracotta statue making, carpet weaving, bangle making - at Malakhera
Bazar and Kedalgunj Bazar while on Alwar tour.
Alwar is a very popular destination of Rajasthan, and reaching it is not a provlem Tourists can fly upto Jaipur Airport from any major metropolitan destination in India, and then can hire a taxi to cover the rest 142 km to reach Alwar. One can also reserve a seat in the Ajmer Shatabdi Express or Jammu-Delhi Express, both from Delhi Junction and takes around 4-5 hrs to reach Alwar. To have a better view of the countryside, get into a cab and drive along the NH8 that connects Jaipur to Delhi. Turn eastwards at Shahpura (left turn when coming from Delhi and a right when coming from Jaipur), onto the Sariska road. Alwar is around 82 km from here with leisure stoppages at Bairat and Sariska. There are rickshaws, three wheelers and tongas available near the railway station for local commutation.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Alwar
The Tiger Gate of Rajasthan
The Land of The Hunt
A Walk In The Alwar Fort
Get A Sweet Tooth
The Shimla of West
Rajasthan & The Taj
Wildlife Safari Tour
Mahal - White Wonder
Delhi - Eternal Capital
Sikri - City of Victory
- Out of The World
Madhya Pradesh -
Centre of Attraction