I always look for a little twist in my travel experiences. So when I was planning my Ranthambore visit, I I always look for a little twist in my travel experiences. So when I was planning my Ranthambore visit, I thought why not a luxury stay in the wild? Though now I admit with a feeble heart, I definitely was not prepared for the ‘adventure’ that followed.
My address for the next two days was Aman-i-Khas, a luxury tent resort which was then in news for Katy Perry’s much hyped visit. What prompted me further was the fact that these luxury tents are pitched afresh every year. In the monsoon months, all that you will find here are tall wild grasses and yes, a jackal or two hiding behind the bushes!
My home in wild Ranthambore
The welcome was pretty warm with local artistes rendering melodious songs amidst the ritual of tilak and flower garlands. A fresh drink in hand and you walk into an oasis of beauty and luxe. The wilderness was nicely tamed with lanterns all around and carefully manicured walking lanes. The sweet smell of wildflowers and sound of birds chirping from all across made me feel as if I had just walked into Mowgli land.
Even as I was getting used to this unique setting, my escort zipped opened the tent which would be my home while in Ranthambore. Trying hard to hold back my bewilderment, I walked around the tent which had everything that a luxury hotel would have. From separate private areas, sit-out area, a huge bath tub and an ice box filled with every possible drink, it definitely felt regal.
But hold on, where is the door? The escort said “Ma’am, always zip yourself in after evening and do call if you need anything.” Well it was dusk already and I was to spend the night in this tent with just a zip to make me feel secure. Gracious Lord! The thought of Machli (now dead), the most photogenic tiger of Ranthambore, her equally majestic daughter Sundari and all the other tigers came flashing to my mind. The incessant sound of crickets and hooting of owls made me feel worse. I tried to distract myself with the scrumptious meal that had been laid for me and the only saving grace was the heated blanket which did help to drive away the thought of tiger outside my tent. Well, this is what luxury stay in wild Ranthambore is all about.
However, the peace was short lived. It was early morning and I could see squirrels running atop my tent. It seemed they could see me and enjoyed the fear in my eyes. What if they all fell straight on me? Next I hear some rumbling outside my tent and my heart skipped a beat. They say what you fear most is bound to happen to you. And there I was looking at the shadow of a four legged creature right outside my tent. Though small it seemed, how could I forget I was in tiger land.
Yes, I did want to see the wild cat, but surely not outside my tent! Even as I had started saying my prayers, I saw a human figure outside the tent. I ran out only to be reassured by one and all that it could have only been a wild cat or a harmless jackal who sometimes come in for a morning stroll. Well, was there any need for me to go on a safari after all the early morning excitement? However, I did and as always came back after seeing fresh pee marks and footprints of a couple of tigers there.
Bonefine, music and much more
Wilderness All Around
While in Ranthambore, you see how everything is so closely intertwined with nature. After spending some time in the well-stocked library and taking a tour of the private herb garden, I decided to make a quick visit to the local market and the nearby village–all for the love of Ranthambore. Even as I stepped outside the resort gate with guards in traditional attire saluting in true royal style, a herd of goats greeted me, reinforcing the fact that they get to cross the road before me. Sitting back, I enjoyed the sight of over 20 goats royally walking by, even as their master walked them through with tender chiding, a rare sight to behold.
The roads in Ranthambore are filled with tiger imagery. Be it T-shirts, bed sheets, wall hangings or home decor, it has to be the striped king. There are schools where one can learn nuances of fine tiger drawing. After my share of “tiger shopping”, I took a quick village tour which turned out to be more exciting than I anticipated. The houses, mostly mud, were equally bright with artwork displayed on most walls. It is like the people here wear their hearts in these walls. It was a pleasure to see cattle at every turn and better still, monkeys jumped down to steal guavas and other fruits of their choice. Strangely enough, the people didn’t seem to mind much. All they did was pass a sheepish smile.
My last night at Aman-i-Khas was more peaceful. I sat around a bonfire along with other guests, slowly sipping a drink under the moonlit sky and Rajasthani artistes singing folk songs which drove away all fears. Next morning, I packed my bags to get back to a cacophony of a different kind. As I drove back to the Sawai Madhopur railway station, I was already missing the squirrels, the monkeys and the four legged creature–be it jackal, wild cat or whatever! And I sincerely hoped there will be a second time and the least I can say is that this luxury stay in wild Ranthambore is worth a try!
About the Author:
A four-season traveller, Florina Soren loves to explore the unexplored.