Sariska in the Aravalli range of mountains in Rajasthan has been used for a lot of purposes over the centuries. It was once the hunting grounds of the Alwar kingdom, and the Sariska Palace remains as a symbol of this royal era. With the dawn of Project Tiger in the late 1970s, Sariska Tiger Reserve became the first ever tiger reserve to successfully relocate the endangered Bengal tigers. And now it has a new purpose: to give today’s urban travelers a rare glimpse into the cosmos. ALSO READ: 5 best places to star-gaze in and around Mumbai
For most people living in today’s cities and towns, the night sky is typically just a blanket of black with a few stars here and there. You may find more stars if you visit nearby getaways, but you don’t truly understand the meaning of the name ‘Milky Way’ until you see it in the night sky. The galaxy flows like a river of light and dominates the night sky, earning its name in the truest sense. But this sight is limited by clouds, altitude, ambient light and a host of other factors. Astroport Sariska, the first astronomy-based resort in the country, has been set up to fill up this very gap.
Located in the Aravalli range, the eco-friendly resort lies close to the celebrated Sariska National Park, and the main highlight of this place is, of course, the view of the Milky Way streaking through the night sky. Given its closeness to the tiger reserve, there is little ambient light from the ground obstructing the view. And from September to May, cloud cover is small enough to allow you to see our galaxy in all its majesty. Even the national park closes down in the monsoon period, bringing down the number of people and vehicles nearby drastically. Nights turn pitch black in the ground, allowing the stars above to shine more brightly.
The unique concept resort offers an astronomy camp with modern telescopes and other astronomy-related equipment for people of all ages to learn about the stars. There are plenty of astronomy-related educational programs on offer here, from spotting and learning about zodiac constellations to using the stars to find directions (like the voyagers and travelers of the past) and taking photographs of the night sky (an art in itself). As for accommodation, there are studio apartment-style Galaxia tents for INR 13,000 per night and higher-end Nebulae Swiss tent cottages for INR 22,000.
Organically-farmed produce is sourced for the resort’s food, and Astroport Sariska even offers some educational programs on sustainability. By day, you can visit their organic farms or, if the national park is open, go on a safari to explore the flora and fauna. You can spot such rare endemic species like the Bengal tiger, striped hyena, four-horned antelope and Nilgai. Bird lovers get the opportunity to spot species like the crested serpent eagle, white-throated kingfisher and golden-backed woodpecker. If you visit during the monsoon months, you can still indulge in activities offered at the resort, like cycle tours of the region, a solar walk, nature walks and ayurveda sessions. The trekking trails nearby will also keep you busy during the day, and you can wind up at night by stargazing. NOW READ: Sariska: In search of the royal stripes
Photograph Courtesy: Facebook
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