More than 300 meters above the Northeast Rajasthan city of Alwar stands the remains of Bala Qila, a sprawling fort among the foothills on the northern most edge of the Aravalli mountain range. Reports on what to see inside vary drastically as access is limited to only those that know special written police permission is required before arrival. Unfortunately my impromptu visit landed me in Alwar on a Sunday, a day with little to no chance of obtaining the required formalities.
Don’t let that distract you from enjoying the spectacular roadside views on the way up (and down) the foothills. A single lane road with expansive shoulders leads the way providing ample areas to pull off for photos, pee stops or some rest and relaxation. Oddly the area is monkey free yet brimming with none else but peafowl. Peacocks and peahen forage in the open space with little care of anyone or anything else. Birders will especially enjoy the variety of winged animal life flying about.
The walls of Bala Qila extend out 5 kms North to South, and some 6 kms East to West in chameleon like fashion. Dense wooded overgrowth untamed in years has succeeded in hiding large portions of the walls which traverse the rocky terrain in nearly impossible angles.
Parking atop the summit comes in the way of a small gravely area near the front gate. You won’t have long to read posted information signs before a single armed guard squeakily opens the small inner fort door within door. He’s looking to inquire about your reason for being here. Without the required police permission he promptly returns to his post behind the fort wall. No discussion, no bargaining for entrance.
Renovation is said to be underway of the palace and temples housed behind the Bala Qila’s walls with the hopes that in a few years time, tourists will be allowed access to roam the grounds freely. Until then, visitors can enjoy the lofty views of Alwar and surrounding countryside from on top as well as a few portions of buildings which protrude above the fort wall. Tourists short on time are best off visiting the City Palace below where views of the imposing fort walls are plentiful.
How To Reach
Tuk tuk’s and cycles can’t make the steep ascent to the fort so you’ll need to arrange a taxi from a local hotel or the tourist office – unless you’re traveling by car and driver. Locals will point you in the right direction of Bala Qila once you have your transportation figured out.