AT Loves: Ranthambore (Diwali Special)
Ranthambore has always been a personal favorite to visit during fall-winter season in India. While most of Rajasthan is known for its palaces and forts, its deserts and lakes, Ranthambore is known for its National Park that is world-famous for its native tigers! With the recent monsoons in this region, the air is refreshingly crisp, the temperature pleasantly cool and the forests densely green, making it an ideal time for tiger spotting!
If like me, Diwali, for you, is about spending time with quiet quality time with family then look no further than a holiday at the extremely aptly named 'Aman-i-Khas' ('aman' meaning 'peace' and 'khas meaning 'special').
Beyond the quaint rural villages of Rajasthan, on the hills of the Aravali Range and on the outskirts of the famous Ranthambore National Park lies this ten-tented luxury camp, operated by Aman.
The luxury wildlife camp covers over 10 acres and brims with diverse flora and fauna. The nearby lake also hosts two crocodiles. But don’t be fooled because it is only camp by name, with its exterior tent-like structure made out of soaring fine-cotton canopies. From the inside, each of these Mughal-inspired massive tents contain designated living room, bedroom, bathroom, dressing area, study area, sundecks and more! These tents are elegantly furnished with stone baths and carpeted floors, typical of impeccable Aman style.
Photo Credit: Aman-i-Khas Hotel
The stay at this camp is all-inclusive with meals, drinks, laundry and most of all, a 24-hour private butler who ensures you are always properly attended to! Though this 'glam-ping' experience feels so lavish, yet it somehow manages to make you feel connected and close to nature.
The camp has a main tent area with a restaurant, library, lounge, boutique and spa. You can experience traditional relaxation and rejuvenation treatments as well as Reiki healing at the spa. The camp also has a 'Step Well' swimming pool (typical of this region) with sun beds, ideal for a lazy afternoon in the lap of nature.
Photo Credit: Aman-i-Khas Hotel
The restaurant and lounge have a alluring ambience. But what's better - is that the camp organizes special dining experiences at scenic locations in the wilderness, with a personal chef and local musicians as per your request. The meals have a good mix of Indian and Continental dishes that are made from vegetables and herbs grown in the camp's in-house organic garden.
While it is hard to pull away from your pampering tents, make sure to spend a day or two around Ranthambore National Park. It won't disappoint, I promise.
Enjoy a sumptuous sunrise breakfast out on your patio before heading out on your open-top jeep excursion. The safari excursions are held twice a day (morning and afternoon) and can be booked privately or shared with other guests at the camp. The excursions are led by the park guides.
While the park is most certainly famed for its tigers and leopards, it is home to abundant other wildlife like the striped hyena, slot bear, chital, sambar etc. Enjoy an afternoon bush picnic amidst the trees and animals in the National Park with tea, coffee and cakes.
After sunset, you can indulge in true camp-like activities on the stone patio that is converted into a cozy campfire. Share tiger sighting stories and let local musicians entertain you with folk songs and dances as you enjoy pre-dinner drinks!
Wake up before the dawn for a private yoga session in one of several isolated spots on the property. With a relaxing start, now opt for some activity-filled day. If you haven’t yet spotted a tiger, go on another excursion. The more safari excursions you book, the higher your chances of seeing a tiger!
Visit the Ranthambore Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former palace, that is associated with numerous alleged historic legends. Your butler can plan a picnic lunch on a nearby hilltop with panoramic views over the fort. On the way back, visit the Hindu and Jain ancient Elephant Temples.
In the evening, request the chef to take you around the camp’s organic garden to pick your own vegetables for your meal! Have softly candle-lit, private dinner followed with quality family time (games/cards/conversation), before you return to your busy routines back home…
P. S. - I think 3 days/nights is an ideal amount of time to visit Ranthambore. If you have more vacation days, consider clubbing it with any of Rajasthan's other palatial destinations.