13 Places to Visit in Alwar—Explore the Grandiose City of Rajputs in 2019!
The City Palace and the museum are remarkable structures that elevate rambling, dusty Alwar to a worthy tourist destination. Alwar is one of the oldest Rajasthani kingdoms, its roots going as far back as 1500 B.C. It rose to prominence in the 18th century when Pratap Singh kept the Marathas at bay, and resisted armies from Jaipur and Bharatpur. Alwar was also one of the first Rajput states to form ties with the British colonists, even though the relationship was testy at best.
Alwar is a city soaking in history. The regular tourist crowd give Alwar a miss and that means you can explore the city and its surrounding attractions in peace. This gives the place a sense of quietude as you stroll through the ancient palace and soak in the charms of its colourful bazaars. The Alwar Utsav festival that takes place in November is a great time to be here.
Alwar is also the final destination for the Fairy Queen- a retro locomotive said to be the oldest in the world and constructed in 1855! The journey begins in New Delhi and comes to a halt in the City of Rajputs.
Here’s the only list you need for places to visit in Alwar, its secrets tucked away from the maddening crowd.
1Bala Qila— The exquisite bastion that once hosted Emperors Babur and Akbar
Towering 300m above the city, Bala Qila’s fortifications are on the edge of a steep incline. The massive bastion predates the rise of the Mughals and its impressive ramparts run for a good 5kms. However, Mughal emperors, Akbar and Babur spent time here. Emperor Jahangir spent his three years of exile at Salim Mahal within the walls of this fort.
You can either hire a rickshaw for a longer 7km ride or you could make the steep climb yourself and save time. Bala Qila was constructed on the foundations of a 10th century battlement and the structure is steeped in history. There are six entrances and once you’re within its walls, the marble columns and exquisite latticed balconies are a joy to behold. While the name ‘Bala’ means young, the fort is ancient, being constructed in the 1500s.
10 A.M. – 5 P.M.Entry Fee:
Entry is free. All you need to do is get permission from the police superintendent’s office in the City Palace complex. This is pretty easy to manage.
2City Palace— The culmination of Mughal and Rajput architecture
At the bottom of Bala Qila sits Vinay Vilas Mahal, or the City Palace, that is a geometric whirlwind of pavilions and ghats. Constructed in 1793, the City Palace has 15 large towers and 51 smaller towers that give this structure an air of regality. The marble pavilions, intricate murals, lotus flower bases and airy courtyard make this a must visit destination in Alwar. The palace now houses the offices of the District Collectorate, making it one of the most beautiful government offices in the country.
Discover the Rajput-Mughal architecture and take a stroll along the banks of Sagar Kund, the artificial lake, before you decide to move on to the next attraction. The City Palace is one of the most historically important places to visit in Alwar.
10 A.M. – 5 P.M. (closed on Mondays)Entry Fee:
INR 5 for Indians; INR 50 for Foreigners
3The City Palace Museum— An eclectic collection of Rajputana wealth
Within the sprawling gates of the City Palace is a government-run museum that contains relics such as royal ivory slippers, taxidermied Scottish pheasants, glorious weaponry, royal attire, a 11th century Vishnu sculpture, erotic miniatures, and widescreen paintings of royal processions.
The museum is on the top floor of the City Palace and you can reach it by taking the ramp from the main courtyard. The City Palace Museum is a treasure trove of ancient coins, manuscripts, inscriptions and stone sculptures. Swords belonging to Emperor Aurangzeb and Akbar are also on display here.
Tuesday – Sunday; 9:45 A.M. – 5:15 P.M.Entry Fee:
INR 50 for Indians; INR 100 for Foreigners
4Sariska Tiger Reserve & National Park— The natural haven for Royal Bengal tigers and a spooky fort
From jungle safaris to ancient temples, Sariska has it all. Situated across 866 sq km this National Park is home to a variety of wild animals in the midst of stunning scenery. Located within the soft folds of the Aravalli Hills, a jungle safari will help you spot the rare Indian Eagle-Owl, peacock, sambhar, nilgai, jackal, wild boars, monkey, leopard and the majestic tiger.
As of August 2018, Sariska Tiger Reserve is home to four tigers, eight tigresses and two cubs. It is the first tiger reserve in the world to have successfully completed a tiger relocation scheme. 36kms from Alwar, this reserve is the perfect destination for nature lovers. The wildlife viewing experience is phenomenal and November to March is the best time to visit this protected natural abode.
If you have time to spare, make the trip to Kankwari Fort situated deep within the Sariska National Park. The fort offers panoramic views of red mud village houses across the jungle. Historically, Kankwari Fort is where Emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned Shah Jahan’s heir to the Mughal throne, before having him executed.
Make sure you sign up for a long tour if you really want to explore Sariska in all its natural beauty. The best way to explore this park is in a jeep or canter. Travellers can book a seat at the Forest Reception Office at the entrance of the park. Guides are mandatory and charge up to INR 300 for a 3-hour trip.
When it comes to wildlife places to visit in Alwar, the Sariska Tiger Reserve is as good as Ranthambore.
6 A.M. – 3 P.M. (1st October – 30th June)Entry Fee:
INR 105 for Indians; INR 570 for Foreigners.
5Vijay Mandir Palace— A still functioning royal household
Situated on the banks of the Vijay Sagar Lake, 10kms from the main city, the architecture of this palace is what makes it a must visit destination. The Vijay Mandir Palace is still owned by the Alwar Royal Family and while you cannot explore its 105 rooms, you can take a stroll in the palace grounds and take in its beauty. Vijay Mandir Palace was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh.
9 A.M. – 6 P.M.Entry Fee:
6Siliserh Lake and Palace— Tranquil waters for sailing, bird watching and water adventure sports
The Siliserh Palace, constructed in the mid-1800s, was originally a royal hunting lodge before being transformed into an exquisite palatial household. It is currently a tourist bungalow but the main reason to visit this destination, 20kms southwest of Alwar, is the Siliserh Lake and its surrounding flora.
The 10.5 sq km lake is encompassed by thick jungle cover making it the perfect destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers. You can even hire a paddle boat and view the royal hunting lodge as you paddle around this beautiful lake. If you’re an avid angler, Siliserh Lake is the right destination for you. Set sail and throw in your line for a day spent away from the usual tourist attractions.
5 A.M. – 8 P.M.Entry Fee:
Free for Siliserh Lake; Boating charges extra.
7Fateh Jung Gumbad— A tomb of great aesthetic value
Alwar’s beauty lies in the stories behind every historical structure. Fateh Jung Gumbad was built by Shah Jahan as the final resting place for a minister from the Mughal court. Fateh Jung must have been a model employee for his tomb is a five-storied architectural wonder that combines Mughal and Rajput motifs. The all-sandstone tomb includes minarets and domes that pierce the Alwar skyline. The wall carvings are still intact and if you’re a history buff, this grand structure will leave you spellbound.
6 A.M. – 6 P.M.Entry Fee:
8Moosi Maharani ki Chattri— A finely-crafted cenotaph worthy of Alwar’s heritage
Rajasthan is a land known for its glorious cenotaphs dedicated to kings and queens of old. Alwar has the Chattri of Moosi Maharani, also called the Cenotaph of Bakhtawar Singh, dedicated to Maharaja Vinay Singh’s father and mistress (who self-immolated herself on Bakhtawar’s funeral pyre). Situated just beyond the City Palace, this memorial structure is two stories high and rests on a sandstone platform.
Local women still visit the cenotaph and pour sacred water over the sculpted footprints of the royal couple. Make sure you remove your shoes before entering the cenotaph to explore its carved interiors and faded paintings on the ceiling. The tank, temples and ghats alongside the cenotaph adds to the beauty of the place.
9 A.M. – 6 P.M.Entry Fee:
9Bhangarh— Town of the supernatural
It’s not surprising that Alwar, with its rich history, also contains a haunted abandoned village. The legend goes that a tantric priest fell in love with a princess and when she ignored his advances, he cursed her family and the entire village.
Whether you believe the story or not, Bhangarh was founded in the 1600s and contained around 10,000 households. Curiously, around 300 years ago the village was deserted by its inhabitants. A number of structures still stand tall amidst the untouched countryside making Bhangarh an eerily beautiful destination.
Bhangarh Fort is a three-storied bastion that stands like an Indian gothic castle with temples, a step-well and broken columns. Visitors are not allowed after sunset. Exploring the spooky remains of the fort in the daylight still manages to blend myth and fact to create an extremely satisfying experience. The Shiva temples are still intact and Bhangarh is the kind of Rajasthan town unique in more ways than one. Just make sure you don’t bump into a faerie being! For those interested in local lore, Bhangarh should top your list of places to visit in Alwar.
6 A.M. – 6 P.M.Entry Fee:
INR 15 for Indians; INR 200 for Foreigners; Free for children below 14
10Purjan Vihar— Royal garden for the nature lover in you
In 1868, Maharaja Sheodan Singh commissioned Purjan Vihar, a garden that dares to stand up to the searing heat of the desert. Nicknamed the ‘Company Bagh’ or ‘Simla’, the sprawling greens make for the perfect picnic spot with family and friends.
Winter mornings and evenings are the best time to visit and you can stroll among the same paths used by the royalty of Alwar in the past. Purjan Vihar is aesthetically designed, and well maintained, making it one of the prettiest parks in Rajasthan.
4 A.M. – 10 P.M.Entry Fee:
11Garbhaji Waterfall— Cascading delights after an intense history lesson
Alwar has a number of man-made structures that have stood the test of time and are still beautiful. In the midst of all that sandstone, Garbhaji Waterfall is nature’s gift to the desert of Rajasthan. Situated on the way to Siliserh Lake, this natural wonder is the perfect pit stop if you want to hear the water crash down over moss-covered rocks while you listen to the twittering of birds overhead.
Make your way carefully up a steep staircase that gives you some of the best views of the surrounding densely covered hills. If you’re a photographer, make sure you visit Garbhaji Falls for its vantage points.
Preferably before sunset during the Monsoon and Winter monthsEntry Fee:
12Neelkanth— Temples lost within the jungle cover
The cluster of Jain and Hindu temples at Neelkanth date back to the 6th and 9th century A.D. Situated on a tiny plateau surrounded by old hills and a crumbling defensive wall, Neelkanth is completely off the beaten track. This makes the trip to this mystical temple complex all the more exciting.
Situated in a buffer zone after Sariska Tiger Reserve, the intricate stone carvings seem one with the lush vegetation and exist in perfect harmony. Peacock sightings are common here adding to the fantastical nature of Neelkanth. This is a great destination for hikers and pilgrims alike.
Preferably before sunsetEntry Fee:
13Hanuman Temple— The Monkey God in the home of the Royal Bengal tiger
This temple is situated deep in the Sariska Tiger Reserve and if you have the time you can drop in. if you’re up for a walking adventure, take the 1km walk to Pandu Pol, a massive natural arch. The hiking trail follows a sparkling stream, through thick jungle cover, that ends in a magical green pool.
According to Sariska National Park timingsEntry Fee:
For the traveller willing to explore Rajasthan differently, the places to visit in Alwar offer exactly that.