This week as the monsoon has begun to arrive in Rajasthan we look up to the skies in hope that the rain gods will shower some heavy blessings across these lands and spread relief for all those who rely on their waters.
Author: Robert Postma
The morning is silent save for the hum of my air conditioner in the corner. Inside my tent it’s cool the true sounds of the new day are evident as I turn it off and am greeted by the songs of birds. A new day is dawning. I realize that this is my favourite part of any day. Day break fills me with a sense of the unknown, what will happen today, what will I get to see? A tiger stalking prey through the forest, a leopard searching out a cave to wait the heat of the day away in, perhaps a desert fox playing with its young. One thing for sure is that there will be an amazing sunrise that will take my breath away. Other than that, it’s a surprise here in India. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Today marks the annual day dedicated to endangered species. This day provokes a necessary conversation on how we, as humans, are able to counter the imbalance and decline of a lot of our most favoured species. The IUCN Red List, a catalogue of all species that are threatened with extinction, currently claims the list hold over 41,000 species, covering all classes of vertebrates and invertebrates, fungi and flora and even certain single celled organisms. This day is dedicated to each of these wonderful organisms and species.
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.
The forts and palaces of Rajasthan are examples of the most spectacular architecture symbolising dynastic power and built as strategic military defences by the proud rulers of this region. For modern visitors they represent the grandeur and opulence of the Rajput courts, their legendary wealth, their turbulent history and their readiness to find and embrace death, if defeated. Some of the largest forts in Rajasthan have seen bloody battles, long sieges, intrigues, jauhars (immolations) and sometimes, defeat. Since the region is strategically located along India’s western frontier through which historically important trade routes passed, it was constantly under attack by forces intent on entering North India, right from the time of Alexander the Great.
To glimpse and experience the dynamism of Jaisalmer, the land of Bhattis (the Rajput ruling dynasty), and to capture the essence of the medieval city’s charm and magnificence, a visit to the golden, arched roofs of Bada Bagh is a sure must. These Cenotaphs here at Bada Bagh emulate Jaisalmer’s prosperous and powerful heritage.
“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
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.