The Destination


Sariska was originally known as Mewat and had a glorious past. By the epic story 'Mahabharata' it was believed that Pandavas have taken shelter here during their exile. Sariska was the place where Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned his elder brother Dara Shikoh in the Kankawadi Fort. Sariska was known to be the personal hunting ground of the Alwar rulers.

Kankawadi Fort

These same forests, ages ago, are supposed to have sheltered the exiled Pandava brothers, heroes of the epic Mahabharat. The dense forest and difficult terrain of Sariska shielded them until they reached the court at Viratnagar 66 km away and lived there disguised as servants of the king. Only five boulders now remain to testify to the presence of the five Pandavas and their wife, Draupadi.

Forts near Sariska

Pandu Pol (Hanuman Temple)

Though the material relics of that age are scarce, the whole countryside is teeming with evidence of the presence of the heroic brothers. Bhima, the strongest brother, smote his scepter in the rock face of a cliff and created a passage for them through a gorge deep in the sanctuary. This is the place known as Pandupol, the most commonly visited spot within the Sariska area. It was here also that Bhima, who had acquired the strength of many thousand elephants by drunk from the eight jars of the nagas, received a setback to his inflated ego by Lord Hanuman.

Hanuman lay across the road disguised as an old monkey and challenged Bhima to lift him when he was ordered to clear the way for the Pandavas to pass. Bhima could not even move his tail and accepted defeat. A temple here is dedicated to Hanuman in the human form.

Hanuman Temple near Sariska

Guests rarely return without a visit to this temple in which the image is in a reclining position. Busloads of devotees crowd the route on Tuesdays, the monkey god's known weekday. On Wednesdays, the inhabitants of the sanctuary are allowed a rest from the sight of human invaders and animals are indeed most visible on these days.

A Fascinating Tradition

In September each year, however, they almost disappear off the track as hordes of worshippers from near and far, descend on the place for the famous fair which offers the startling spectacle of persons crawling lengthwise on the road the entire 48 km distance from Alwar city. If one is lucky to be present at the right time, the ear can be treated to the fascinating narration of the folk epic, the pandun ka kada, a Mewati version of the Mahabharata, sung by a Muslim jogi for hours at a stretch.

Bhartrihari ke Jogi

At Bhartrihari, it is the group called Bhartrihari ke Jogi, who dominate with their powerful music at the fair in August. For hundreds of years, the place gave solace and shelter to the legendary sage Bhartrihari, the author of important Sanskrit works on nitishastra and epics. A millennium later he is still greatly revered by the local populace. A temple in the hilly area (35 km) of Sariska is dedicated to this saint. For every night over a month, a grand musical drama of seven hours in the style of Parsi theatre is enacted and draws a massive audience. It narrates the epic story of king Bhartrihari, renowned for his justices.

Rendezvous with the rugged, rustic and regal

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