Once known as Mewat, the Rajput kingdom came under Muslim domination during the 13th-18th centuries with intermittent attempts to win it back which, Kachchawaha prince succeeded in doing in 1771. Alwar has some beautiful lakeside palaces, not all open to the public.
The city of Alwar forms an ancient Rajput state. It was formerly known as Mewat. It was closest to imperial Delhi. In the 12th and 13 th centuries the inhabitants of Alwar formed a group and raded Delhi. It was ultimately Sultan Bulban who suppressed them, bringing the area under the Muslims rule. Between 1775 and 1782 under the leadership of the Naruka thakur (noble) Pratap Singh. His descendants were great patrons of the arts , commissioning the transcription of numerous sacred and scholarly texts and encouraging painters and artisans to visit the Alwar court. In 1803, the British awarded the Alwar thakur with the title of maharaja as thanks for their support in a battle against the Marathas. This friendly alliance was short-lived, however, with the maharaja of Alwar strongly resenting British interference in governance when a British Resident was installed in the city. Following Independence, Alwar was merged with the other princely states of Bharatpur, Karauli and Dholpur, forming the United State of Matsya, a name which reflected the fact that those states all comprised the ancient Matsya kingdom. In 1949, Matsya was merged with the state of Rajasthan.
Places to see
Vinay Vilas Mahal (the palace complex)
The palace complex is situated just below the Fort but some of it has been converted into Govt. offices. The palace dates back to the 18th century and is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture.
The museum has a wonderful collection of Mughal and Rajput paintings, rare art objects and miniature writings. The weaponry in use at the time can also be seen and is a reminder of the bloody battles that have been fought in these beautiful surroundings. The museum remains closed to the public on Fridays and public holidays. The surroundings can make for many day trips such as to Vijai Mandir Palace, 10 km away. For information regarding permissions needed for visiting the palace the local tourist office can be contacted.
Sariska Tiger Reserve and National Park
Spread over nearly 800 km of forests, the Sariska Reserve is one of the reserves, which come under Project Tiger. Along with the Ranthambhore National Park, it provides an opportunity for seeing wildlife in Rajasthan.The wooded forests are home to the tiger, nilgai (blue bull), sambhar, cheetal, four horned antelope and wild boar. Within the park can be seen ruins of ancient temples. A palace built by the rulers of Alwar State has now been turned into the hotel - Sariska Palace. The park is notable for seeing wildlife at night and the best season to visit the park is November to June.
Vinay Vilas Palace
This garden palace was once the residence of Maharaja Vinay Singh. Now a college is being run in this magnificent building. The Garden of this palace and company garden were watered by Siliserh lake through a long aqueduct.
Tomb of Fateh Jung
This spectacular tomb has a massive dome which is a fine blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. Fateh Jung was a minister of Mughal emperor shah and related to Khanzada rulers of Alwar.
Bala Quila (The Fort)
This huge fort is famous for its history, which predates the Moguls rulers. It runs 5 km from north to south, and nearly 2 km from east to west standing 304 meter above the city. The fort is circumscribed with several gates a few of which are named after various personalities e.g. Jai Pol, Laxman Pol, and Suraj Pol.
Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri
This impressive cenotaph (chhatri) on the banks of 'Sagar' a beautiful lake, is dedicated to Bakhtawar singh's mistress who performed sati here. The cenotaph reflects Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The upper portion in marble with columned pavilions and domed arches with exquisite floral tracery, rests over the pillared red sand stone storey. Mythological an d court scenes in fading gold leaf painting and sculpture adorn the ceiling. The memorial is ratted as one of the finest in its class. The picturesque 'Sagar' or lake is a concrete catchment with a pattern of stairs and tiny kiosks in perfect symmetry along the sides.