Author: Pranjali Garg

Jawai leopard safari

Best Off-beat Itinerary for Rajasthan

“Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.”  

– JRR Tolkien  

And secrets don’t exist in places accessible by everyone! 

The best thing about traveling off-beat is tranquility & exploring the local taste of a place. Without constantly worrying about the crowds, you can spend more time with your fellow travelers. Get away from the hustle of the cities and explore the offbeat hidden gems of the royal city of Rajasthan. Starting from Jaipur, on a road trip: Visit Sambhar Lake, Lakshman Sagar, Deogarh Palace (Rajsamand), Rawla Narlai, Jawai Bandh, & Ravla Bhenswara!

Off-beat itinerary for rajasthan, varawal, leopards, narlai, ravla, rawla, sambhar lake, lakshman sagar, deogarh, jawai, bhenswara
  1. SAMBHAR~ THE SALT LAKE 

A short drive from the Pink City of Jaipur lies the sun-kissed landscape of Sambhar Salt Lake, the largest lake of Rajasthan. It is the largest inland saline lake of India. With an ancient folklore and legendary mentions in the Hindu “Mahabharata”, the Salt Lake known for a story involving the companion of Hindu God ‘Lord Shiva’ & the guardian goddess of the lake, ‘Shakambhari Devi’. A temple with her idol still exists near the lake.  

The place is highly famous for its ‘Salt-making’ process. If you’re interested in the process, an activity called ‘Salt Production Train Tour’ will satisfy you. Get a glimpse of the workers extracting salt from the water. Other experiences such as adventure sports like archery, ATV’s, rock climbing can give an adrenaline rush. However, nature & wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy birdwatching, village visit, camel riding & stargazing! Sambhar Heritage Resort is the most recommended place to stay. With all amenities provided, experience the opulent luxury amidst tranquility for a night.  

Contact No. +91(0) 7073901555 ; Email-Id: info@sambharheritage.i

2. LAKSHMAN SAGAR~ The Relaxing Destination 

Known for its history of connections of Lakshman Singh Ji~ Thakur of Raipur with other noble families & British emissaries. It was built in the late 19th century. The property, Lakshman Sagar Resort by Sewara is known for its Rajasthani architecture merged with sustainability. The 12 cottages are designed with according to the heritage and culture of the local life that also reflects the concept of ‘slow living’. All the cottages are similar in concept, however unique in their way. Each element found in the room has a story. Each room open itself to a private pool, which also faces the lake in either side. The cottages have private dining rooms, along with the common ones too. The dining menu can be customized according to guests’ requirement. 

Other activities such as goat herding, campfire, stargazing, local liquor tasting, horse trailing, & many others can keep you away from the hustle of the city for a short period of time. The property is definitely worth a night stay if you’re exploring the off-beat destinations in Rajasthan. Enlighten your mind & soul by visiting Lakshman Sagar.  

Contact: +91 11 4084 4551; Email-Id: reservations@sewara.com 

3. DEOGARH MAHAL~ The Royal Suites! 

Rajasthan is known for its forts, royalty & culture. Deogarh, in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, is one such destination that represents the authenticity of the culture. It has its history of Rawats (local slang for kings) which is highlighted and can be seen while you visit the palace. A part of the family still resides in the Deogarh Palace while the rest has been converted into a heritage hotel, solely managed by the family. They have three properties, Deogarh Mahal, Fort Seengh Sagar, & Deogarh Khayyam (the tent side). With all the amenities provided, every room in the palace reflects a different era. An activity called the rural ramble takes you on a drive to explore the natural surroundings of fields, cattle and locales. A cavernous rock temple of Lord Shiva also provides a wonderful view of the landscape. The ride leads to the Deogarh lake.  

The place is also a paradise for birders. Various migratory species such as Sarus Crane, white throated king fisher, pied kingfisher, etc. can be seen in the area. Other activities such as Village Walk, Rural rail, romantic breakfast on the top of terrace with your loved one can also be enjoyed. Book a night stay at Deogarh to experience the royalty of Rajasthan! 

Contact: +91-2904-252777; Email-Id: info@deogarhmahal.com 

4. RAWLA NARLAI~ A Heritage Resort 

Another destination to explore for experience the heritage and culture of royal Rajasthan & have a panoramic view of the local village of Narlai. Rawla Narlai~ A Heritage Resort has its history associated with ‘Maharaja Swaroop’, son of Maharaja Ajit Singh. Today, the heritage resort is owned and operated by his Maharaja Swaroop’s’ family, Rani Usha Devi & her sons. Rawla Narlai is a legendary destination that cannot be ignored and is a must-visit for everyone exploring off-beat Rajasthan. 

Other activities such as, high tea at the lake, mystical dinner at the stepwell, royal cavalry, village tours, adventurous leopard sightings, trekking & train safari can also be enjoyed here. Moreover, one can also take a visit to the cave temple. The granite rocks of Narlai make the place a beautiful landscape.  

Contact: +91 9950810813 ; Email-Id: crs@rawlanarlai.com 

5. JAWAI~ The Land of Leopards (Varawal Leopard Camp) 

Jawai has a mystifying blend of the most natural elements that are present on this planet. It provides an unbelievably mesmerizing view of the Aravalli ranges, the Jawai hills, and the Jawai dam. Apart from any other hills or ranges, these rock formations are home to the leaps of leopards and many other wild animals. It has a huge population of leopards that roam free. The Jawai leopard Reserve is not managed by any government organization and is solely handled by individuals. You’ll find hyenas, sloth bears, blue bulls, and many bird species such as Flamingos, Bar-headed geese, Owls, Raptors, Eagles, and many more. For decades, harmony and peace has been maintained between the wildlife & humans. The Jawai Dam gives one of the most surreal views ever seen. 

The best property to stay in Jawai is Varawal Leopard Camp. Lavish accommodation in luxurious Swiss Cottage Tents, each named after the name of a leopard in Jawai (a specialty of Varawal Leopard Camp), thrilling village & wildlife safaris, birdwatching & crocodile sightings, high tea on Jawai hill, theme breakfast are some of the activities that one can enjoy here. The place is a paradise for everyone. Stay for a minimum of 2 nights in a row to explore and enjoy the stories of various leopards of Jawai! 

Contact: +917742133581 ; Email-Id: bookvarawal@gmail.com 

6. RAVLA BHENSWARA~ Ancestral heritage 

A heritage site highly famous for its legendary Rajput hospitality and is a home to the noble family of Bhenswara. The castle was built about 240 years ago by Thakur Jagat Singh Ji Rathore. Bhenswara is also famous for various thrilling safaris, such as leopard safari, village safari, and other adventurous activities such as trekking & Rural rumble.  

The rooms of the Ravla Bhenswara are a perfect blend of the traditional lifestyle and luxurious comfort. The walls are painted with murals or glass bangle work, which is a specialty of Rawla. Every room has its own story to tell. Stay for a night in Ravla to experience the lavish lifestyle of Bhenswara.  

Contact:  +91-9828070734 , +91 8890395971 ; Email-Id: bhenswarahotels@gmail.com

For a better understanding of the itinerary, refer to the customized map:

Neelam~ Jawai Leopard

The Ferocious Neelam!

~A story of a magnificent female leopard of Jawai

Growth; What do you understand by it?   

Growth is an inevitable truth of life that one has to always come across, no matter what. A truth that no living species on earth can avoid; an evidence of evolution; the mere existence of the process of reproduction. Personal growth is known to transform a living being into a stronger version, that overcomes all sorts of problems and protects what it owns.   

The month of July, 2013 is accurately engraved in my memory. It was the scorching July sun and I was on an expedition with a group of Spanish Guests, who were extremely exhausted with the heat, aggravated with disappointment. We wandered for three hours and hadn’t spotted a single leopard in the area. On our way back to the camp, I stopped the gypsy at the only place that relieved me, the tea stall outside Varawal. While sipping my chai from kulhad with deep disappointment and enervation, I got a phone call from one of my trackers. He informed me that a leopard & hyena had been found fighting at a spot that was near to the tea stall. Without any second thoughts and further discussion, I took my guests to the spot.   

We reached the place and spotted the hyena trying to scare a leopard off who was on the rock in the headlight of our gypsy. There she was~ the ferocious one. The aura in her eyes reflected her newness to the situation of the fight and the world of cruelty. From the first look, I suspected that she might’ve just been separated from her mother. At that moment, I didn’t understand the reason behind their fight. With a thought that its unethical to disturb the activities of wildlife, I took my happy-with-spotting guests back to the camp. With the hope of finding her again, I gave her a name~ Neelam.   

Neelam, Jawai leopard, Varawal, Wildlife, Mumbai travelers, Foliage Outdoor
The ferocious Neelam!

New leopards separate from their mothers at the age of 12-14 months to find a territory of their own, along with mating partners. She made a magnificent appearance which made me curious as to what might’ve invoked the fight between a new leopard & a hyena. With a determination of unraveling the mystery, I went to the same spot the next day. I was surprised when I found a dead goat on that spot. Realizing that the reason behind their fight was food, I started looking for her. I found myself lucky when I spotted her on a hill. She gave enough spotting to be seen for existence from a crack, only to disappear again after a few months.  

Neelam, Jawai leopard, Varawal, Wildlife, Mumbai travelers, Foliage Outdoor
Neelam, spotted!

It is believed that a destination becomes more special if the journey is spectacular and indulging. It took me two months to locate her again on a different hill. Every day, I wandered on my patrolling bike in search of her. I was taken by surprise in the month of April, 2015 when I saw her with her first litter of 2 cubs, a male & a female who I’d named (later,) Heera & Panna respectively. Mother-leopards tend to hide to protect their cubs & bring them in the presence of humans only after 2 months. They might be called “Ghost of the forest”, but they know if you’re watching them. At least in Jawai, they do. Due to a lack of equipment, I couldn’t capture her shot then. However, in the month of July, 2015 on an expedition with a group of traveler photographers from ‘Mumbai Travelers’, we managed to get a shot of Neelam & her cubs. For a series of months, it was her routine to sit outside her cave along with her cubs & we had great spotting!   

Neelam, Jawai leopard, Varawal, Wildlife, Mumbai travelers, Foliage Outdoor
Neelam, with Heera & Panna
Picture Credits: Mr. Jogi Prajapat, Mumbai Travelers

The first territory of a female where she lives with her cubs is always owned by the male she mates with and the father of the cubs. However, it is the sole responsibility of the female to take care of her cubs. Her cubs made me curious about her mating partner. On a particular morning, I spotted Neelam with her cubs going inside the cave. She looked alert then. In the evening, I was on a safari with a group of guests and we saw her running with Heera (male cub). Panna (female cub) was alert. A sight of another male leopard, Marshal, in Neelam’s territory was seen just later.   

Male leopards tend to kill other males to mate with a female. Marshal could’ve come to the hill for only two reasons: One, to kill Heera so that he could mate with Neelam & claim the territory or two, this was his territory! Marshal, walked around marking of the cave, sprayed (I.e., urinated) and then left. Another day, the daily routine of Neelam with her cubs sitting outside the cave on her signature spot: The Tea Rock ~ Left Cave, was followed with a sight of Marshal, who happened to exchange looks and then he walked away. This particular sight wasn’t usual. This could only mean one thing: Marshal was Neelam’s first mating partner!   

Neelam, Jawai leopard, Varawal, Wildlife, Mumbai travelers, Foliage Outdoor
The Male Leopard~ Marshal

A leopard raises her cubs, teaches them hunting, for a period of 7-8 months after which, she leaves them to be on their own. Neelam raised her cubs in the territory of Marshal. She left them to be on their own after 10 months from their birth. Meanwhile, a leopard searches for a mating partner. It hunts, it lives its own life and continues to find a mating partner. I was wondering as to who would be her next mating partner when I spotted her mating with Marshal on a rock. I wasn’t surprised. Nevertheless, I was waiting to spot her 2nd litter!   

After a few months, in the first week of December, 2016, I spotted her in one of Marshal’s territory with her 2nd litter of 3 cubs~ all males. She was the first-ever leopard in Jawai to be seen with 3 MALE CUBS! This made her even more special in the area. Guests demanded to see such sights. The cubs were a month old when they were first spotted. On fine evening of 18th January, 2017, I took a group of traveler guests from ‘Foliage Outdoor’ to spot Neelam. Near sundown, we saw Marshal marching towards Neelam from a crack & attacking her. The whole situation confused me. We couldn’t stay more because of the sundown.   

After an extreme period of inquisition with my mind, I went to the same spot the next day. I was shocked to find Marshal wandering around his whole territory like a king, who claims a kingdom after a fight. Marshal looked angry. I looked around in search of Neelam and didn’t find her. With a sense of disappointment, I wondered if she’d gone. However, a week later she was seen in some other territory with all 3 cubs.  

On the morning of 31st January, 2016, one of Neelam’s cubs from the 2nd litter, was found dead on a rock!

Neelam, Jawai leopard, Varawal, Wildlife, Mumbai travelers, Foliage Outdoor
The Male Cub, 2nd litter was found dead!

This was a dreadful sight to look. The cub was bleeding and there were pug marks of leopards from a fight. Due to the series of events, I’d suspected Marshal had killed the cub. The fact was disturbing. Leopards often fight when they’re claiming a territory or want to mate with the same female. However, the cub was only 4-5 months old, and was not fit for any activity above. Also, it was Marshal’s cub! Neelam disappeared with the remaining 2 cubs and wasn’t spotted for weeks. Where did she go?? There was another question that left all of us bugging: Why did Marshal kill his own cub?    

Comment below if you suspect something. An answer? Or you might’ve to wait for another week for the right one!    

~~NOTE: The story has been written from Mr. Pushpendra’s (Owner’s) point of view. All the experiences described in the story are his personal experiences and has nothing to do with the writer~~  

~~Special thanks to Mr. Jogi Prajapati, tour leader & co-founder of Mumbai Travelers from Mumbai, Maharashtra & Mr. Rahul Rao, tour leader at ‘Foliage Outdoor’ group from Pune, Maharashtra~~  

BEST WILDLIFE DESTINATIONS IN RAJASTHAN!

Seeking out a place to observe authentic wildlife in the arms of nature? Here are the top wildlife destinations in Rajasthan.  

The TIGER ABODE~ RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK, SAWAI MADHOPUR 

Talk about wildlife, and your trip will be incomplete without watching the “King of Jungle~ Tiger.” Ranthambore National Park, located in the Sawaimadhopur district of Rajasthan is famous for its population of tigers. One of the best and largest places in Rajasthan to see tigers in their natural habitat. The forest is incorporated into the Project Tiger of 1973 and was declared a national park in 1980 by the Indian Government. The tiger reserves are small which makes it easier to spot tigers through safari. Besides tigers, there are striped hyenas, leopards, marsh crocodiles, Indian wild boar and many species of birds can also be spotted here. The park lies amidst the historical monument of Ranthambore fort that dates back to the 10th century, Padam Talao Lake~ one of the largest lakes in Rajasthan, & the second largest banyan tree of India.  

Best time to visit: October to March 

Contact for stay & safaris: Mumbai travelers

Saurabh Thakker: 8422049888 or E-mail – contact@mumbaitravellers.in

KEOLADEO GHANA NATIONAL PARK~ A BIRDER’S PARADISE

Also known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, this sanctuary is man-made & considered as the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is a home to 366 species of birds. Every year, thousands of birds migrate from across the globe to this sanctuary in order to escape the harsh winters. Many ornithologists, researchers, and travelers come here throughout the year to watch these birds. It is the most beautiful and calming sights to watch. When you see a flock of birds take off into the sky, the experience is breathtaking and is said to be once-in-a-lifetime. The place is also a home to many species of amphibians, turtles, lizards, fishes, and 379 floral species. While you’re here on this small expedition, extend it a little and visit the Bharatpur Palace.  

Best time to visit: October to February 

Contact for stay & safari: Naturebureau Bharatpur

Rakesh Sharma: 9414023925 or Email: naturebureaubharatpur@gmail.com

JAWAI LEOPARD RESERVE~ THE LAND OF LEOPARDS 

Famous for its unbelievable ecosystem formed by the wildlife, especially leopards and village community here. Jawai is a place that is not yet touched by globetrotters. It has a huge population of leopards that roam free. The Jawai leopard Reserve is not managed by any government organization and is solely handled by individuals. You’ll find hyenas, sloth bears, blue bulls, and many bird species such as Flamingos, Bar-headed geese, Owls, Raptors, Eagles, and many more. For decades, this harmony and peace has been maintained between the wildlife & humans. Wildlife here can be observed easily & frequently all year round, but the leopard sightings are the most mesmerizing and known to leave people speechless. Along with calling this place, the ‘Land of Leopards’, the Jawai dam is also called as ‘The Land of Flamingos’. The Jawai Dam gives one of the most surreal views ever seen.  

wildlife destination in rajasthan
Leopard Laxmi with cub!

Best time to visit: October to March

For stay & safaris, visit www.varawalleopardcamp.com or email at bookvarawal@gmail.com 

You can even WhatsApp them on +91 7742133581 

DESERT NATIONAL PARK~ GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD FOUND!

If you’re looking for mesmerizing beauty, this is the perfect place for you. You’ll find the endangered Great Indian Bustard here. This desert park is one of the largest parks in Rajasthan and is located in the districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer. The Indian Bustard which migrates to different places in different seasons can be spotted here in a fair amount of numbers. The park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert. Sand dunes form around 20% of the park. Many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel, and vultures are also spotted here.  Sand grouse are spotted near small ponds or lakes. The place is best for visits in the winter season. On your expedition here, visit the golden city of Jaisalmer too. The historical Jaisalmer fort is considered one of the “living forts” in the world.  

Great Indian Bustard

Best time to visit:  October to March

For stays & safaris: Ursh Khan – 9521652660

 MOUNT ABU WILDLIFE SANCTUARY~ GREAT MUNIA SPOTTED! 

Famous for reaching the altitude of 5650ft, the highest in Aravalli ranges. The point is known as Guru Shikhar and has a major tourist attraction across the country. This particular wildlife sanctuary is known for its rich diversity in flora and fauna. Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary is a habitat for 157 species of monocots & 663 species of dicots. The rare bird species of Green Munia is found here. The sanctuary is a part of Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion. The igneous rocks have formed in such a way that huge caves have built naturally and are home to a wide range of wildlife such as Indian leopard, Jackal, Langur, Mongoose, Hedgehog, and many others. Many other adventurous activities such as trekking, safari, hiking can be experienced here.  

Green Munia

Best time to visit: October to March.  

For stay & safaris, contact: Hiking and Trekking company Mount Abu

Mr. Narayan: 8219721890 or Email at: a.andy091@gmail.com

TAL CHAPPAR SANCTUARY~ MIGRATORY RAPTORS? 

Famous for blackbucks and a huge variety of raptors. For those who don’t know, raptors are birds of prey. It is located in the Churu district of Rajasthan, on the road from Ratangarh to Sujangarh. It is a refugee to the blackbuck. Various migratory birds of the raptor’s family such as harriers which are known to pass this area in the month of September. Birds such as eastern imperial eagle, short-toed eagle, tawny eagle, all belonging to the family of birds of prey can be found here are known to stay here till March. Other birds such as sparrows, little green bee-eaters, black ibis, and cranes can also be seen. Skylarks and ring doves are seen here throughout the year. This place is really hot in the summer season with the highest temperature of 48°C and very cold in winters with 10°C. 

 

Blackbucks

Best time to Visit: November to February 

For stay & safaris, contact: Naturebureau Bharatpur

Rakesh Sharma: 9414023925 or email at:  naturebureaubharatpur@gmail.com

Looking for a less crowded travel destination, post-lockdown?

Post-lockdown, our lifestyle will change. Our traveling strategies will upgrade. And the destinations of our travel will gain a whole new perspective. Even after the lockdown, you’d want to play safe and avoid crowded places. Social distancing will still make to the top of the priority list. Discovering such an ideal destination is not an easy task. A Travel destination in Rajasthan were you can stay close to nature seems to be the best option. Visit wildlife sanctuaries, go camping in isolation away from the “shor of the city”, eat organic home-cooked food, and to get yourself back in the game, probably get a little adventurous. Such ideal destinations exist and are the most desirable destinations that you should choose post-lockdown. If you want to be a lone wolf, be one right now and make a bucket-list for yourself!

As the pandemic hit the world in the most unexpected way, thousands of travelers around the world were forced to delay their travel plans and lock themselves up in their homes for a period of 2-3 months (which they haven’t done in almost a decade). Travelers’ minds and souls must’ve gotten frustrated because of the restriction of the only thing they love to do. Remember that, COVID-19 is just an unwanted cataclysmic situation that seemed to occur in the most dreadful manner. Don’t let the fear auto-install itself. Let the positivity in. Pandemics never end well, but eventually, they end at some point. The pandemic is temporary, but your dream of traveling the world is permanent! 

One such destination is Jawai in Rajasthan. An outright-packaged one, where you have all at one place. In Jawai, you can find the perfect amalgam of nature and wildlife, camping, and adventurous safaris. One can enjoy their solitude for as long as they want or listen to unbelievable stories of the bond between the wildlife and community, narrated by the folks here. It is an experience that is raw and beautiful. The fact that there hasn’t been a single leopard attack here, is astonishing. Leopards and the Rabari  community lives in harmony and peace. The existence of leopards and other wildlife hasn’t affected the community in any harmful manner. Also, the community praises leopards in the face of God.  

Other than spotting leopards, you can also witness a huge flock of migratory birds here. Along with calling this place, the ‘Land of Leopards’, the Jawai dam is also called as ‘The Land of Flamingos’. The flamingos look as if they’re painting the water with their feet. Watching them just makes you feel as if the whole world around you, has faded and you still wouldn’t care about it. You’ll find yourself longing for this beautiful sight as soon as you leave it. No concert, no song will bring you the sigh of relief the way listening to these flamingos will! 

There is a huge amount of wildlife in Jawai. Along with leopards, you’ll also find striped hyenas, hedgehogs, jungle cats, Indian fox, crocodiles and many more. There is huge variety of birds too. Other than the wildlife, Jawai has physiography; which so authentic and exquisite that you’d boast about it to everyone after you click pictures that look surreal. Yes, it’s a paradise for photographers and artists! 

Well, Jawai is a developing tourist destination and every wildlife enthusiast would want to visit this place once in their lifetime. Though there are a number of hotels and camping ventures in the area, you should still be careful while choosing the one you’d want to stay at. You’d want to choose something that firstly, doesn’t compromise with any levels of hygiene and is not crowded. Choose the one with least number of tents. You don’t have to come in contact with much people then. Secondly, choose the one that promises to give you a primordial experience of nature and wildlife rather than make it like a nightmare for you. One such venture is Varawal Leopard Camp.

Varawal Leopard Camp provides you the most extraordinary experience when it comes to safaris, comfort, wildlife and food. Their safaris, along with being adventurous, are knowledgeable. Most of the times the host travels along, but at times when he doesn’t, the drivers will enlighten you with all the knowledge they’ve acquired about the leopards or the other wildlife. The host and the staff are warm and welcoming. They have exciting stories to share. When it comes to comfort, Varawal Leopard Camp has luxurious Swiss cottage tents with all the amenities included. Their food is organic, and most of the vegetables and spices are grown on their own farm that surrounds the camp. They’ve built a whole different eco-system altogether. Also, their packages are flexible and can be changed according to your requirement.  

As soon as COVID-19 ends, hit your nearest airport and fly all the way here. You’d be amazed to see what this place has to offer you. Most people even call it paradise. I found my inspiration here. I found an inevitable urge to run behind what I loved to do.  That is what the place does to you. It sets you on a different journey altogether. You’ll feel more liberated than you already are!  

Visit www.varawalleopardcamp.com soon or book your stay at bookvarawal@gmail.com  You can even WhatsApp them on +91 7742133581 

The part of you that’ll fall in love with the leopards will definitely bring you here. It is just buried deep down inside your soul and you just have to pull it up to have the most phenomenal vacation of your life! 

Best Hotel to Stay in Jawai – Varawal Leopard Camp

“Hospitality is simply an opportunity to show love and care”, and this is what I endorse to believe in.

I’d traveled to Jawai with a group of friends and after the longest journey to reach this beautiful destination of Jawai, all my energy had drained completely. For years, I’ve lived in cities and had never thought of staying in villages. The thought of spending two complete days in a village in Rajasthan made me anxious. Although, I was impressed with the hospitality I’d received at Varawal Leopard Camp, as I heard that Varawal is the Best hotel to stay in Jawai.

A PINCH OF INFORMATION ON JAWAI

I’d learnt about Jawai from a friend and was curious to visit this place. For all those who don’t know, Jawai has a mystifying blend of the most natural elements that are present on this planet. It provides an unbelievably mesmerizing view of the Aravali ranges, the Jawai hills and the Jawai dam. Surf through the internet and you’ll know that Jawai hills were naturally formed millions of years ago when the lava broke down into rocks. Apart from any other hills or ranges, these rock formations are home to the leaps of leopards and many other wild animals. These rocks have caves inside them as huge as the size of any 2-3BHK apartments that we live in, or sometimes even larger than that. This whole area is known as ‘The Land of Leopards’, by all the ones who’ve visited or live here.

THE WELCOME

Once I’d reached the camp, I let out a sigh as we didn’t have to go through any kind of chaos of filling out the formalities or anything like other commercial hotels. Although, the lemonade was refreshing. We were promised a relaxed stay and that is exactly what we got. As soon as we reached the camp, I felt a different kind of breeze as if it was welcoming us in its arms and calming us down with all the essence it has built over the years. I let all the positivity it carried, sink in. We were greeted by the host, Mr. Pushpendra Singh. Turning around from the parking area and there was a beautiful farm. The farm had a unique view at each time of the day. It gave perfect views of the golden and blue hours.

THE CAMP AREA

Varawal leopard camp starts with a drawing area, facing the farm on one side and a small reception area on the other. It’s an open area on all the four sides. Across the drawing room is the pathway which extends itself to the camp area that we would be staying in. On the right side of the pathway is the dining area followed by the Bonfire-area. The areas on the campsite were so lavishly arranged, like in movies of Bollywood representing the era of kings.  

THE LAVISH ACCOMMODATION

Amenities include accommodation in luxurious Swiss Cottage Tents, each named after the name of a leopard in Jawai; a specialty of Varawal Leopard Camp. We stayed in the tent named as ‘Neelam’. Swiss Cottage Tents, specifically designed without compromising any levels of comfort. Every tent had a double-sized bed and an attached bathroom with all the necessities required. The tent also owns an area large enough to put a single-sized bed on the side. The camps were air-conditioned and had enough storage space for luggage. When they said luxurious, I didn’t expect luxury to be present in every aspect of my camp. The porch outside the camp had enough sitting area with antique furniture for a one to sit and spend their solitary time by either reading a book or listening to music. I was surprised when I found myself introspecting my own life by the magic of nature!

THE ORGANIC FARM WITH HOME-MADE FOOD

When my friend first mentioned ‘camps’, I was worried that I might have to cook noodles or prepare ‘Chai’ for myself while my stay at the camp, but I was surprised by the delicacies Varawal laid out for us. On our stay at Varawal Leopard Camp, Jawai, we got a chance to taste the delicious home-made Rajasthani food, directly from the kitchen of the host’s mother. Staying in hostels, I’ve acquired a craving towards home-made food. All the required spices and vegetables too are grown on their own farm that surrounds the camp. Everything around there was natural and organic.

THRILLING SAFARIS

Safaris are a specialty of Jawai and the knowledge of trackers and drivers who led us to spotting leopards made it a lot more interesting. Varawal Leopard Camp has a tremendous staff with excellent knowledge in this area. The drivers and trackers plan safari accordingly such that leopard spotting is guaranteed. Their knowledge of spotting a leopard at a particular time is commendable. Trackers trace the paw prints of various wild animals to spot their presence. They, themselves are working towards the conservation of leopards and other wildlife in Jawai, along with Mr. Pushpendra.

THE NIGHT SHOW

In the evening, after the safaris ended, Mr. Pushpendra showed us clips of Leopards’ fighting with each other, or with the hyena sometimes, that he has himself recorded. He has videos of various other wild species that are found in Jawai. He is an enthusiast and has gained reputation as a conservationist in the area. I was personally amazed to hear the mind-blowing stories he shared with us. We enjoyed these stories and listened to the kind of experience that he has undergone during these years, over drinks and bonfire.

The radiant night sky with the dazzling stars added to the beauty of the enthralling camp.

A GREAT EXPERIENCE!

All in all, I was delighted with the hospitality and the experience. I’d only say that, Varawal Leopard Camp, not only promises you a dream holiday but will also add a different meaning to your life. The stories and views that nature reveals here to you are a feast for both eyes and ears. This place holds the power of healing any heart and soul by mere forces of nature without binding the body to anything. If peace exists, it exists here!

People living at Varawal are definitely one of the luckiest, as this place is heaven!

Visit www.varawalleopardcamp.com soon or book your stay at bookvarawal@gmail.com

You can even WhatsApp them on +91 7742133581

It’s beautiful, and very much affordable. Plus, people at Varawal Leopard Camp are very professional and friendly.