For almost 2 years now I have been searching for a true weekend getaway from Gurgaon and this weekend Alwar came out as one of the options. By the true weekend I mean a place that is no more than 150 km’s away from your home. Where you can go on a Saturday morning and come back comfortably by Sunday evening. And you have ample time to spend at the destination. The place should also offer you something that your city does not offer. Personally, I do not count high-end resorts in these options.
Alwar – Weekend Getaway from Delhi.
Alwar in Rajasthan is about 150 km’s from Gurgaon, and you reach it through NH-8 and state highway SH-25. The state highway is narrow but is in a good state. It has right out of Yash Chopra films beautiful yellow mustard fields on both sides making it a pleasurable drive. Alwar has many things for the travelers: history in the form of palaces and forts, nature in the form of hills, lakes and gardens and a tiger reserve not too far away. As it is still not a popular tourist destination. You would enjoy this quaint town without the hustle and bustle of usual tourist places.
The first monument that I saw in Alwar was the tomb of Fateh Jang, a general in Mughal court during the reign of Shahjahan. This tomb with 5 storeys is a good example of Indo-Islamic architecture. It was not open so we could not go inside. We were told that it is opened only for an hour or so in the morning, though I fail to understand why it is so. This well maintained pink structure stands out in its surroundings. You can see two storeys with arched walls. A similar but smaller third storey, a dome and a typical Rajputana chhatri on top. The square structure has small minarets on all four sides and is enclosed within a wall with an impressive gate.
Places to visit in Alwar.
City palace is now the court of Alwar and if you are looking for directions, ask for court and not the palace. The palace is said to have some rare frescos but you need special permission to see them. What you can see is a huge courtyard with a high platform. This platform has three exquisite chhatris in white marble. The Jalis in red on the jharokhas upstairs are impressive. There is a nice interplay of yellow, white and red colors. The palace must have been very beautiful in its hay days. But as of now, it seems to be in a completely ignored state with no maintenance. Surrounded by hills with temples on their peaks, the palace has a beautiful view too.
You can take a ramp on the side and reach the museum on the top floor of the palace. Three huge halls house the museum and its artifacts. The first hall has miscellaneous items, but some things that might interest you are the stuffed tiger and bear that still seem alive. There is a dining table made of silver and this seems to be the only focus item for the museum staff.
The second hall has a collection of Mughal and Rajput miniature paintings. If you study paintings, you can spend hours in this hall. There is Rag Ragini series, baramasa series and Radha Krishna series of paintings. Besides the court and hunting scene paintings. The paintings illustrate the Alwar School of painting.
The third hall has warfare items, but notice some interesting mirrors on the walls here. This hall has some famous swords like that of Mohamed Ghori, Akbar, and Aurangzeb. A very interesting museum but probably the worst maintained museum I have seen. Ancient excavated sculptures were lying in the open on the roof outside the museum facing the raw weather.
Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri.
Just behind the palace are two most beautiful monuments of Alwar. Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri is a cenotaph with ground floor in red sandstone and first floor in white marble. Eight intricately carved chhatris adorn the white marbled first-floor structure. Four round ones in the corners and four rectangular ones on all four sides. This place was as beautiful as it was dirty. The paintings inside the top dome have almost fallen apart. Inside the dome are two padukas or footmarks, and a priest there was helping people do the pooja, giving an impression of it being a temple.
I spoke to a devotee there and she said this is the temple of the Kul devi of the king of Alwar. Though I doubt this claim, as devi is not worshiped in the form footmarks usually. The board outside the monument says that it belongs to the queen Moosi who committed suicide on the death of her husband King Bakhtawar Singh. Their son built the monument in their memory.
By the side of this monument is a beautiful lake called Sagar with ghat like stairs on all four sides. There were jetty-like structures with Chhatris at their end going into the lake. On three sides of the lake is the palace or its extensions and on the fourth is the Moosi maharani ki chhatri. Put together, these monuments make a very beautiful sight along with the backdrop of hills.
Bala Qila or popularly called Alwar Fort.
Bala Qila is the most popular tourist attraction of the city. About 6-7 km’s away from the City palace, it is a gigantic fort built at an elevation of 300 meters. Not much is known about the builder of this fort, but evidence points towards the Mughal times for the fort. There were various gates to this fort. The one you can see in a fairly good shape is Jai Pol, which may have been erected to celebrate a victory. You can either climb the fort through the tough terrain, or climb it through the well-provided staircases or simply drive till the gate on top. You will meet lots of monkeys, peacocks and sambar deer on your way to this fort, just look sideways.
Once you reach the top, a fort gateway welcomes you. But as you get inside, you would be told not to come in and only admire the fort from a distance. A little inquiry told us that there is a police control room inside the fort, so you are not allowed to venture inside. This was disappointing and there was no information regarding this anywhere. But nonetheless while you are there, just walk around and see the bird’s eye view of Alwar and from the top, it looks like a big city. You can also see the various fort walls that run almost at an angle of 45 degrees on the steep hill.
Other attractions include Moti Doongri, which looks like an abandoned fort located right in the heart of the city. There is a dargah on top of it and because of its height gives a good view of the city. There are various gardens in the city, most famous being company bagh.
Siliserh Lake & Siliserh Palace.
About 13 km’s ahead of Alwar is a huge lake called Siliserh. On one shore of the lake is the Siliserh palace in typical yellow and red color. This huge lake is surrounded by hills on all sides. You can do boating in this lake and soak completely in nature all around you.
A relaxed trip with many splendid surprises. Recommend this weekend getaway near Delhi and Gurgaon.
Recommend you to read following Places to visit in Rajasthan.