Alwar has a rambling palace with an above-average museum packed with royal booty, testifying to its former importance as capital of a Rajput state. Alwar is perhaps the oldest of the Rajasthani kingdoms, forming part of the Matsya territories of Viratnagar in 1500 BC. It became known again in the 18th century under Pratap Singh, who pushed back the rulers of Jaipur to the south and the Jats of Bharatpur to the east, and who successfully resisted the Marathas. It was one of the first Rajput states to ally itself with the fledgling British empire, although British interference in Alwar’s internal affairs meant that this partnership was not always amicable.
Not many tourists come here, so there is a refreshing lack of hustle, and you will find some colourful bazaars, leafy avenues as well as the remarkable palace. It is also the nearest town to Sariska Tiger Reserve, where you’ll find a grand hunting lodge that is another relic of Alwar’s royal past.
The city palace and museum are found in the northwest of the city, a steep 1km north of the bus stand. There’s a collection of budget hotels a short distance to the east of the bus stand. The train station is on the eastern edge of town, and the main post office is about midway between it and the bus stand. Usually quiet, Alwar comes to life during the annual three-day festival of Alwar Utsav.