When John Proudfoot Stratton was not laying down roads, putting down belligerent banditry in the arid moors of Bundelkhand and instituting the practise of vaccination into Central India, he also found time to become the Political Resident of Jaipur State, his period of Residency coinciding with the ascension of the progressive Maharaja Madho Singh II as the ruler of Jaipur State in 1882.
His home in Jaipur – and that of other Residents’ before and after him – was, what is now SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace. But the palace did not start-off as the home for venerated and very able Political Resident’s of Rajputana and Jaipur. Originally, and with the founding of Jaipur, Rajmahal Palace was in fact a walled garden, built by Maharaja Jai Singh for his queen Chandra Kanwar Ranawatji, a princess of Mewar.
Read More Venerable, Vigorous and Very Royal
The Serai, Jaisalmer sits on desert scrubland with a rolling as-far-as-the-eye-can-see-view of the horizon, where pink skies bid farewell to blazing, fiery sunsets and cranes flying overhead to their nesting grounds signal the end of the day in wintertime. This is a timeless landscape, a roundabout of history that has witnessed the arrival (and departure) of armies and caravans, of princes, priests and mendicants each of whom settled down or passed through in the rise and ebb of medieval dynamics. Not far from The Serai, in about as much time as it would take you to enjoy the on-board picnic, you can drive to the centre of this historic landscape, Jaisalmer Fort.
Read More Jaisalmer’s Golden Fort: In Conversations with History
Summer Visitors and Some Residents
In the second part of our series on birds, our blog this week looks high and low amongst the canopies and undergrowth of Ranthambhore’s forests in the peak of summer. May and June are invariably the hottest periods of the year in Ranthambhore and as many trees lose their leaves and the grasses shrivel and retreat in the heat, few creatures of the forest bother to stir unless they absolutely must. Not so with our feathered friends. Summertime sees an influx of some migratory birds to Ranthambhore who are currently here to escape the chill of the hills, from as far away as Central Asia. Other, residents – such as our male peafowl – develop such outrageously brilliant plumages, they forced Charles Darwin to splutter, “the sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me feel sick.”
Read More Birds, Birders and Twitchers: Part II
Tracker Academy Blog
We head out with Bright (one of our trainers at Tracker Academy) in a Land Rover. Scanning for tracks we were going pick up Renias Mhlongo (one of South Africa’s renowned trackers and a trainer at the academy). En route, a leopard leaps out of a bush and seizes an impala from its herd, literally fifteen feet away from our vehicle. By the time we realise what just happened, the leopard (a female) had successfully killed and dragged the impala to the base of a tree. Bright, also stunned with the suddenness of the sighting drives us into the thicket to try and get a closer view of the leopard. In the middle of all this, two hyenas stroll by, possibly attracted by the commotion the impalas created as they witnessed one of their herd snatched by the subtle predator. Relying on their highly acute sense of smell, the hyenas manage to locate immediately the trench in which the carcass and leopard lay under the shade of an acacia. As soon as the leopard hears the hyenas approaching, she bolts, disappearing into the bush and leaving her hard-earned food behind. Within seconds the two hyenas had mangled the impala and erratically tore off its lifeless limbs in a savage frenzy. I will not and cannot for all of our sakes describe the sound of the joints popping out of their sockets or the crack of the bones as they manically devoured the corpse. They laughed in their characteristic way as they competed for the last ounce of flesh and after a mere 20 minutes, the impala was gone.
Read More LONDOLOZI Despatch: Part II
Vedant Thite and William Asquith, both Rangers from the JAWAI and Sher Bagh Field Teams respectively send their first despatch from the Londolozi Private Game Reserve, where they are attending a three-week training course over the summer. Over the next few weeks we will follow their progress and adventures as they report on their experiences from the African Bush! Stay tuned…
Read More LONDOLOZI Despatch: Part I
One of the most delicious and satisfying itineraries available to travellers in Rajasthan over the next two weeks combines the languor and ease of palace life in Jaipur with exhilarating, adrenalin-pumping thrills in Ranthambhore National Park, just three hours away. Join us, as we to and fro between SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur and Sher Bagh, Ranthambhore on a visual merry-go-round this week.
Read More Between Tigers & Palaces: A Week in Pictures
JAWAI is located in the wilderness of the ancient Aravalli Hills. Within these hills lies a semi-pastoral agrarian settlement with wild leopards and an untouched historic culture. Nature is a part of us and we are at one with nature, we are not separate identities. This is what makes JAWAI special. For centuries humans and animals have shared these hills in harmony. Spirituality and culture have been associated with this harmony. People who live with wildlife, shape the future of conservation in the country. At JAWAI, we look into this traditional model of animal-human coexistence. We aim at sharing this relationship as a model for other such wildernesses across the world and with those who visit us.
Read More Shepherds & Leopards
“The view of Jaipur city from the hill behind it is ravishing…The city, while it is new, is assuredly the most beautiful among the ancient cities of India, because in the latter everything is old, the streets are unequal and narrow. This, on the contrary, has the splendour of the modern with equal wide and long streets. The principal road, which begins at the Sanganer Gate, and goes on to the South Gate, is so broad that six or seven carriages can drive abreast without difficulty and without having to touch each other or turn aside…”
Jose Tieffenthaler in Description Geographique…De I’lnde, Bernouli, i. 314-317.
Read More A Capital City – Then and Now
Temperatures in Ranthambhore typically reach forty-five degrees Celsius in May. A particularly unfriendly summer temperature occasionally crosses the fifty-degree Celsius mark and becomes a natural limiting factor for over-growth. Waterholes become scarce and trees like the Dhok, drop off their leaves to ration their moisture levels. Rock surfaces – scattered throughout the park – emit a furnace like waft each time a breeze sweeps their surface and you can feel the heat stroke you, as you drive past them. Animals and birds appear panting and their movements become soporific as they spend time in the shade of evergreens or the oasis that are formed around perennial waterholes; clusters of Jamun, Ficus and wild mango trees, all daytime shelters for creatures of the forest. The wonderful thing is, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve has several ‘belts’ of such oasis’, tucked away in its folds. No matter how high the temperatures soar, these are the spots you should drive to, and here’s why.
Read More Are Hot Summers the Coolest Time to Visit Ranthambhore?
The Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus is one rare cat which we occasionally encounter at JAWAI. Also called the ‘humming bird’ of the cat world, not just for its small size — at just over a foot, it’s about half the size of the domestic cat — but also because it is extremely agile and active. They have been described as abundant in some parts of India, and have been observed close to and within villages.
Read More The titchy cat of JAWAI