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India >> Rajasthan >> Alwar >> Alwar - The Verdant Empire
Alwar - The Verdant Empire Alwar, Rajasthan
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Alwar is a city in northeastern Rajasthan and is part of the National Capital Region (NCR), India. Alwar was formerly the capital of the princely state of Alwar. It was formerly spelt as "Ulwar" in British India. This placed it in last position in alphabetically ordered lists, so a king changed the spelling to "Alwar" to bring it to the top.


Historically, the territory of modern Alwar state was under the rule of the Gurjars with capital at Rajyapura (Rajor). A Gurjar king named Mathandeva was ruling here around 11th century. Hemu also known as Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, a Hindu Emperor of India, who had won 22 battles against Afghan rebels during 1553-56 spanning entire North India from Punjab to Bengal acceded to the throne of Delhi on 7th October 1556 after defeating Akbar's forces at Agra and Delhi.


The ruler, who established Alwar, around 1720, was a Rajput, Pratap Singh, belonging to the ruling clan of Jaipur. He succeeded in usurping an area called Macheri from the Mughals and setup his capital in Rajgarh, south of Alwar. By way of obtaining pardon for usurpation, in 1774 his successor offered services to Delhi against the Jats, and as a reward was recognized as independent ruler. Separating himself completely from Jaipur, of which he appropriated several provinces, he established a permanent capital at Alwar. Following the independence of India in 1947, Alwar merged into the dominion of India. On March 18, 1948, the state merged with three neighboring princely states (Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) to form the Matsya Union. This union in turn merged into the Union of India. On May 15, 1949, it was united with certain other princely states and the territory of Ajmer to form the present-day Indian state of Rajasthan.


Modern Alwar is a storehouse of much of the glittering past. Wandering around the town’s old streets, one realizes how much there is to cherish in Alwar, and how little the outside world knows. One can do all the sight seeing in Alwar in a day, but it does not mean to convey that there is little to note in the town. The city is dotted with heritage buildings, though it has not learnt to showcase them yet.


Most of the sightseeing places and buildings such as the City Palace, Vijai Mandir and Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri are located on the western far side, under the watchful eyes of fort Bala Quila.


Bala Quila the fort has its existence on the brim of a hill top of Alwar city towering a height of 1960 feet above sea level offering a breathtaking Bird’s eye view of the city and dense forest. The fort by most credible accounts was founded in 928 AD by Nikumbhs clan of Rajput. This massive fort has 15 Large and 52 small towers to place Cannons. Many watchtowers strategically placed along its whooping 11 Kms Rampart housing six massive fortified gates and 3359 Kanguras (Arch like projections). The fort spreads over the surrounding hills, which along with the nearby lakes are the most alluring assets of the Alwar city.


The beautiful 18th century City Palace, which now houses the Collectorate office was built by Maharaja Vinay Singh and blends Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. The most interesting thing about this building is that, it has no stairs but only gently inclining corridors that lead to the upper floors. Like most of the palaces in Rajasthan, it also contains a Sheesh Mahal. The premise also houses a museum, which is divided into three rooms. The museum has a fine collection of Mughal and Rajput paintings and manuscripts.


Just behind the Collectorate office is a spectacular tomb of one of Shah Jahan’s ministers, called Fateh Singh ki Gumbad – this five-story medieval tomb actually outclasses all its contemporaries in Delhi, barring the tomb of Emperor Humayun. After Fateh Singh ka Gumbad one should head for Moti Doongri, the grand palace that couldn’t become a reality. Built in 1882, Moti Doongi was the main residence of the Alwar royals till 1928, when Maharaja Jai Singh decided to uproot the palace to build a more magnificent one in its place. However the ship carrying materials from Europe for the new palace sank, and with ended the grand project.


There is a picturesque garden in the centre of the town called Purjan Vihar or Company Bagh, built in 1868; the garden has an enchanting setting. A section of this garden, built by Maharaja Mangal Singh in 1885, is colloquially compared to ‘Shimla – a hill station of north India’ as it always maintains a cooler than the prevalent temperature. A marvelous cenotaph with an unusual Bengali roof, somehow also known as Moosi ki Maharani ki Chhatri is also situated here, it is an impressive mausoleum of Raja Bakhtawar Singh and his mistress.


A splendid palace built by Maharaja Jai singh in 1918, Vijai Mandir overlooks a beautiful lake. A fabulous Ram and Sita temple here attracts a number of devotees, especially during Ram Navmi. Special permission is required from the Collectorate office and the Maharaja’s secretary to visit the palace.


In Alwar, one can also hear an unusual one-string instrument called bhapung. Interestingly, traditionally all bhapung players, though born Muslims, are also devotees of God Shiva because they believe the instrument is derived from Shiva’s dumroo.



Not only that Alwar is blessed with green hills, it also has several beautiful lakes in its vicinity. The lake nearest to the city is the Jai Samand Lake built in 1910 by Maharaja Jai Singh of Alwar as picnic spot. The spectacular sight at the lake is the string of canopied pavilions lining the promenade. Lake Siliserh, the most popular and, no doubt, the most beautiful of the lakes around Alwar was built in 1845, during the reign of Raja Vinay Singh, who dammed a tributary of the river Ruparel. The lake spreads over an area of around 10 sq. km during monsoon, is a marvelous sight to behold with green hills around it and a white palace built at one of the hill slopes, banking the lake.


The forests of Alwar are also supposed to have sheltered the exiled Pandavas. It is belived that Bhima, hit the rock face of a cliff with his club to create a passage through it – now revered as Pandu Pol. A picturesque spring emerges from the rocks and there is a temple dedicated to Hanuman.


Neelkanth is worth taking trouble to tread and reach a place that prospered for more than 10 centuries and has around 360 step-wells and 360 temple mounds to startle you, out of which only 25 has so far been uncovered. There are beautiful sculptures, carvings and a rich ceiling to be seen here. A short trek away is another temple with a colossal statue of the 23rd tirthankara Parshavanath of Jain faith. Nearby is a magnificent reclining Vishnu.


On the north edge of the Sariska Reserve, is another centre for pilgrimage in Rajasthan. It has temple with hot and cold sources of water, a grove of old trees make this a picturesque spot. The village is home to the famous Narayani Mata Temple. There is small Kund at the base of marble slab near the temple, which has water all year around.


Located within the bounds of the town are the remnants of three ancient settlements. Madho Singh, son of the Mughal general, Man Singh, of Amer, built Bhangarh Fort, located in the southern tip of the Sariska Scanctuary, in 1613. It was abandoned soon after being built, though not known why- also refereed to as haunted town. Heading north-west from here leads to Ajaibgarh, a beautiful old fort situated amid the verdant forest, between Bhangarh and Pratapgarh. There is a lovely reservoir nearby. The fort offers a panoramic view of the walled town, the well preserved but not in use. Heading westwards, leads to Pratapgarh, an impressive hill fort that dominates the region. The complete drive way is through a very scenic forest area with some amazing sights to sooth your eyes and relaxes your soul.

 Getting there


In northeastern Rajasthan, set amidst the Aravalli hill range.


150 km north-east of Jaipur and 160 km south-west of Delhi.

 Fast Facts
Name Alwar - The Verdant Empire Best Time To Visit October to March
Location Alwar   Rajasthan   West   India  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Historical City
Temperature Summar   40-46º      Winter   2-8º      Rainy   25-35º
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