The Farm at SUJÁN The Serai nestles in a corner of the camp, bordering soft hillocks and mellow bui scrubland. The poultry (all local desi species) dashing about in the daytime, from the adjacent coops and the occasional mooing of indigenous Tharparkar cows from their rattan-covered sheds, leaves you in no doubt of the location of this patchwork of green hues, in the middle of what is the Thar desert ecosystem. The lettuce abuts the tomatoes who blithely bend over home-grown spring onions and garlic in the golden light of a sun that can belong only to Jaisalmer.
Into the New Year and Ranthambhore seems to have come alive with promises foretold. Dispersing tigers, ungulates in their dazzling winter morphs and a host of birds – migratory and resident – all go to demonstrate that the forest is flourishing. At Sher Bagh, successive guests, some expert photographers among them, have had an incredible run at capturing this moving feast over the last couple of weeks. In the coming weeks, our guest blogs will feature more of their work, in their own words but for now, we bring you a snippet, a mere taster, of why Ranthambhore truly is the beating heart of India’s wildscape.
“The day lies so still
Long grasses of a summer passed
don’t nod to acknowledge the season
Winter’s rest before autumn’s fall complete
An air replete with hue’s and calls as keen birds feast
And starlings gather atop the ash black leaves that chatter
To motion bare branches still.”
Miles Richardson, A Blackbird’s Year
For centuries, Ranthambhore and it’s fortress have been a space for historic contest. Two conflicts that stand out were Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi’s siege of the fort which began in 1299 and ended in 1301 and the Mughal emperor Akbar’s conquest of the fort in 1568.
Dipavali, or Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu calendar and is celebrated in the autumnal months, all over India – and especially northern and central India – with gusto. It signifies a triumph of light over darkness or a victory of good and righteousness over evil. The Sanskrit dīpāvali literally means a row or series of lights and references to its celebration can be traced to as far back as 1 BC, over 2000 years ago in the Upanishads. While the reasons for its celebration vary between the many regions of India, “all the stories associated with Deepavali, however, speak of the joy connected with the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil”, according to some anthropologists.
The ‘candy-floss’ pink walls of SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur can look back at the passage of time like few other buildings of Jaipur. With a history that first saw the light of day in 1729, when the site on which the palace now stands was created as a garden by a Maharaja for his queen, to the heyday of Pax Britannica in the 19th century when it served as the Residency of the British Political Agent to Rajputana, Rajmahal has absorbed a rich tide of history. As a home of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the palace accentuates the trappings of a handsome heritage. It embodies the tastes and reflects the lifestyle of a Maharaja in the 21st century; a dazzling combination of tradition and modernity set in polished stone and acres of wall-paper amidst sprawling, verdant grounds.
This week we take you through a series of visuals from the monsoon which is slowly beginning it’s retreat. We bring you some images from both Ranthambhore and Jawai, of the landscapes and it’s denizens in both these wildernesses, while the famous Indian monsoon delivers it’s bounties to their doorsteps.
“…Some of the best years of my life were entangled with her life. We had shared some very special moments together and I felt her loss just like I feel the loss of anyone I am close to. Memories flood in, the earliest of which date back to 1997. It was autumn, and Machli was a few months old when I spotted her prancing behind her mother at the edge of Rajbagh, a ruined summer palace in the heart of Ranthambhore. Her mother was a favourite of Fateh Singh, the former field director of the park, and he told me then that she would be a star. It was he who coined her name Macchli as her mother had a fish-like mark on her cheeks that became the daughter’s signature feature.”
Valmik Thapar, “The Macchli I Knew” 28th August 2016
“In the mid-1950s the so-called ‘Blue’ train from Paris’ Gare de Lyon lead passengers along the route from Paris to the Côte d’Azur. A road was built in parallel to the train, and outposts of fine French taste started to flourish along this route. As the owners of one of these establishments, Marcel and Nelly Tilloy saw an opportunity to band together with other locales sharing the same unflagging passion for hospitality and excellent cuisine. They offered an enticing culinary itinerary, encouraging travellers to explore all the spots. Soon this itinerary acquired the moniker “La Route du Bonheur” or “Road of Happiness”.”
Relais & Châteaux