With the glory of the magnificent forts and palaces, the beauty of innumerable lakes, the grandeur of its former Rajput havelis along with stately hunting lodges and lush green surroundings, Alwar is a significant place in Rajasthan with a rich culture and historical past.
History of Alwar
Alwar, once known as Ulwar, was founded by a member of the Kachh family, although it remained under the rule of Rajputs for a long time. After the Mughlas took over, there were many reformations that the city had undergone. Mythological past of Alwar tells us that once the Kauravas and the Pandavas fought on this land and a massive battle between the two acted as a base of the epic, the Mahabharata.
During the medieval era, Alwar rose to prominence and because of its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty; it attracted the Mughals, Marathas, the Jats of Bharatpur, Nikumbha and Kachhawaha Rajputs and the British. [para However, after the independence of India, Alwar was merged with the princely states of Karauli, Bharatpur and Dholpur to form a part of Rajasthan.
Alwar is full of splendid forts, palaces which showcase a unique and rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan.
Vinay Vilas Palace or City Palace – Alwar The ancient city of Alwar nestled at the foothills of the Aravali Range is a buzzing industrial town today. However its rich history is reflected through its many temples, forts, tombs, gardens and palaces. The monument of the city gives you a perfect example of the Indo Islamic architecture. Perched atop the hill is an ancient and derelict fort that is taken to be the landmark of the city. Sariska wildlife sanctuary lies in close proximity to Alwar. For historians and Heritage lovers Alwar is an ideal place where you can take a leisurely walk through the many forts and tombs that tells of a bygone era.
City Palace, Alwar, was set up by Raja Bakhtayar Singh in 1793 A.D. It is a perfect blend of Indo Islamic architecture. This imposing structure has a central courtyard has a lotus flower base constructed in marble. In its hay days it is said to have housed some of the great Mughal kings like Babar and Jahangir.
City Palace, Alwar gives you a glimpse of the ornate life style of the Maharajas. One of the most famous artifacts found here consist of a cup cut out of a single piece of raw emerald whose value is priceless. Today this colossal palace has been converted into the office of the district collectorate. One of the halls in the palace is named as Salim Mahal as Jahangir is said to have spent a night here. Maharaja Pratap Singh conquered the Fort in 1775 A.D and took away many of its treasures.
The City Palace has 15 imposing towers and 51 smaller towers overlooking the mountain slopes. Another noteworthy feature of the palace is its 446 openings for musketry . City Palace has many entry points. Each of these gates has a name and significance. Jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Laxman Pol, Chand Pol, Kishan Pol and Andheri Gate are some of the entry points.
The palace Museum has a wonderful collection of exhibits of the personal wealth of the Maharajas of Alwar and some rare manuscripts including an illustrated Mahabharata on a 200 -foot-long scroll, Others prize pieces here after illustrated manuscripts of GULISTAN, SHAH NAMA, and on EMPEROR Babur’s life.
There are also some fine RAGAMALA paintings and miniatures from the Alwar, Bundi, and Mughal school it has an armory section, which has some historic swords belonging to the likes of Sultan Muhammad Ghori, Emperor Akbar and Aurangzeb.
Tomb of Fateh Jung is a spectacular five storied tomb with massive dome. The dome reflects a fine blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. The tomb is located amid lush green landscapes and the greenery adds on to the beauty of this medieval building. You can visit the tomb everyday and it opens at 9 am in the morning.
Government Museum boasts fine collection of Mughal and Rajput paintings and miniature writings.
Bharathari Mandir is a sacred place for the inhabitants of the city and the state. The temple is named after Raja of Ujjain who is
supposed to have mediated here for many years.
Bala Quila (The Fort) is a magnificent fort located atop a lofty hill, known for its rich cultural past. The fort was constructed by the Moghul rulers and houses the ancient Hindu scriptures and the Puranas.
Maharani ki Chhatri is an impressive centopath (chhatri) designed on the banks of Sagar Lake. The chhatri is dedicated to Bakhtawar Singh”s mistress who performed sati here. Constructed in an Indo-Islamic style of architecture, the centopath is decorated with marbles, domed arches and floral designs.
Shopping in Alwar
In Alwar, best buys are silver jewellery and handmade Rajasthani items. The terracotta statues, carpets, jutis, pottery work and bangles depict the rich culture of Rajasthan. The wafer-thin (kagzi) pottery is very famous in the city and originated in the city itself.
The main shopping areas are Hope Circus, Bajaja Bazar, Sarraf Bazar, Mala Khera Bazar and Kedalganj Bazar and you’ll find all the interesting and exciting things which you can take back with you.
Don’t miss out on the sweetmeat specialty made of milk- Alwar Mawa; you surely can afford to take some back!
Nearby Places – Alwar
The beautiful lake of Jai Samand Lake is located only 6 km from the town. The artificial lake is a popular place for picnics and water sports like angling etc. The best time to be here is during the monsoons when the place is filled with abundant greens.
The town of Silisher is famous for its picturesque lakes and palaces and is only 20 km from Alwar. The best way to get to the small town is by taking a local bus. It’s safe and reasonable.
Sariska Tiger Reserve is 35 km away from the town of Alwar in Rajasthan and you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the wildlife park. Also you can take a guided safari to get around the park and that can be arranged at the Forest Reception Office on the Jaipur Road. Besides tiger, you can spot herbivores, deer, sambar, blue bull and many other wildlife species.
Note– The Wildlife Park is open to the visitors from 6 to 10 am and again in the afternoon from 3 to 6 in the evening. All visitors to Sariska Tiger Reserve need entry permits to get into the park. These permits, available at the office of the Field Director, or at the gate to Sariska, cost Rs 25 per person. Extra charges are levied for cameras (about Rs 10) and vehicles (Rs 100 for a minibus, Rs 75 for jeeps and cars).
Maharaja Restaurant is a cozy restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try out the aloo parathas with chilli pickle, oil free gaajar ka halva and kheer, it is amazing.
Dawat serves Indian, South Indian, Continental and Chinese food. The restaurant is located in the Alwar Hotel.
Narulas is located in the town centre of Alwar and offers Indian and Continental cuisine.
Thali House– New South Café is located right opposite the Gopal Cinema and is the best known for South Indian food.
Events in Alwar
Alwar is famed for its art, culture and rich heritage.
Alwar Festival is the most popular festival in Rajasthan and is held in the month of February each year. The three day festival has unlimited folk dance, music and where other colourful traditions of the town are highlighted. Huge processions are carried out throughout the town.
Where to Stay in Alwar
To experience great warmth and hospitality, a stay in one of the heritage hotels here is a must! The experience will be memorable. Accommodation in Alwar is widely available in the form of heritage hotels, boutique hotels, standard and budget hotels.
The Hill Fort , located in the small village of Kesroli near Alwar, belongs to the Neemrana Group. The construction of the heritage hotel dates back to the 6th century and reflects the ambience of the bygone era. The railhead and the airports of Jaipur and Delhi are easily accessible from the hotel. The town of Alwar is 12 km away from the hotel.
Amanbagh Alwar , a luxury heritage resort designed in a typical Mughal architecture. The haveli is elegantly decorated with soft sandstone and pink marble and antique furniture. The haveli was a once the hunting lodge of the Maharaja’s and today serves as a fine resort equipped with all the modern and plush amenities.
Alwar Bagh, surrounded by the majestic Aravali Hills, is a fine heritage hotel equipped with all the modern and plush amenities. The hotel is closely located to the
Sariska Tiger Reserve. Guided tours like a safari to the Tiger Reserve, walking and exploring the trails are all organised by the hotel staff for their travellers.
Hotel Burja Haveli is a 240 years old haveli built in a traditional Rajasthani style. Today the haveli serves as a fine elegant heritage hotel and is situated on the Alwar-Rajgarh Road.
Clarks Inn Alwar is a boutique hotel with contemporary design. The hotel is situated in the heart of Alwar and lies very close to the Sariska Tiget Reserve.
What to Pack
Since summers get really hot here, pack light cotton tee shirts, pants and shorts. Throw in a light jacket and cardigan if visiting in the winters. Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen lotion, sun glasses, hat/cap to get protection from the sun, medicine box, mosquito repellent, camera, torch with spare batteries. If you are in Alwar during the monsoons then do keep your rain gear ready as showers are expected at anytime of the day.
How to get there
The city of Alwar does not have an airport of its own. You will have to get to the Sanganer Airport located at Jaipur, which is about 162 km from Alwar. Indian Airlines is the flight which connects to Alwar from other cities. Jaipur airport is connected to the metro cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. From the airport, hire a taxi to get to the Alwar city, the taxi will cost around Rs 1500-2000.
Travellers can also take connecting flights from Delhi’s Indra Gandhi International Airport, which is 170 km away from Alwar and then plan your trip further to Alwar.
How to get there by Rail
Alwar is well connected with an efficient rail network. Superfast trains connect Alwar with Delhi, Jodhpur, Mumbai and other nearby cities of India.
Trains like Ajmer Shatabdi, Jammu Ali Express, Inter City Express and Ashram Express depart almost every day from Delhi Railway Station to Alwar. The distance between Delhi and Alwar is 156 km and the journey will take you 4 hours approx to get there.
The distance between Jodhpur and Alwar is 383 km and Mandor Express, Rajasthan S Kranti and Malani Express will get you to the city in about 6-7 hours.
The distance between Mumbai and Alwar is 1300 km and Sau Janta Express, Saurashtra and Rajkot Express will get you to Alwar in about a day. The best train route from Mumbai to Alwar is via Rajkot or Jaipur. You can first travel to Rajkot or Jaipur and then take a connecting train to Alwar.
How to get there by Road
Alwar is well-connected to Delhi and Jaipur by state owned and public bus services. A super deluxe bus from Delhi will get you to Alwar in about 5 hours, depending on the route its taking. The average per person fare is Rs 700. Travelling by bus is much more reasonable but at times it can be very tiring.
The distance between Jaipur and Alwar is 143 km and the journey by bus will not be a hassle for the traveller. Special private buses are also available to Alwar from Jaipur. Do remember that bus services are viable from 5 am to 10 pm in most of the days. Of course it is also possible to hire a taxi service from either Jaipur or Delhi to get to Alwar.
Within Alwar, auto and cycle rickshaws and tongas are available for moving around as there is no public transport here. These are the cheapest mode of transport in the small town.
For excursions to other cities of Rajasthan, local buses are widely available here. The bus stand lies on the outskirts of the town. It maybe best if you had your own car to move around here.