For a very long time, I am yearning to take a road trip to a camping site and sleep under the enormous sky in the wilderness, where nature is my only alarm clock. I wish to peep out of my cosy tent and soak in the incredible sunrise amid green hills or simply laze around in a hammock. I am day dreaming of nothing but toasty, chocolate-dipped marshmallows and yummy barbecue dinners accompanied by bonfires and late-night acoustic jam sessions.
And when I happened to plan a three-day glamping trip to Sula Vineyards located near the beautiful Godavari river in Nashik, it was almost like the universe had conspired to grant my travel wishes yet again. In fact, an upgraded version of my wishes this time. If you have never heard of glamping, the definition is: Glamorous Camping. Glamping was first introduced in early 1900s in European and American safaris as the affluent travellers did not want to sacrifice the comforts and luxuries they were accustomed to. And, the glam quotient cannot get any better. Yes, it’s time to indulge in the harvest season at Sula Fest 2016. I am already doing a happy dance around my living room as I can see myself squishing grapes between my toes, downing glasses of delectable wine, treating myself to the lip-smacking gourmet spread and shopping some pretty, delicate knick-knacks at the little fest bazaar.
The rainy season certainly isn’t really the right time to visit Jaisalmer, especially if you wish to enjoy a camel safari and a night of camping under the starry sky. But that did not deter the curious rain chaser in me who desperately wanted to experience the monsoon magic in the ‘Golden City of India’. After living the Maharaja life at a 550-year-old haveli in Jodhpur, we decided to take off to Jaisalmer by road. I must say that our 300 km drive was quite rewarding. The highway was stark empty with open spaces on either side, and no visible economic activity for miles and miles; we almost felt like we privately owned the beautiful surroundings. To make the trip all the more pleasant, peacocks, camels and blackbucks occasionally made an appearance, gorging themselves on the fresh green grass, courtesy the random bursts of rain.
The city that is entirely constructed by yellow sandstone is much more laid-back and hassle-free as compared to cities like Jodhpur and Jaipur and untouched by globalisation. Retaining the rural Rajasthani aura and culture, the city has no fancy malls or popular food chains and is hugely dotted with ruins. We started our day with a walking tour of the city’s major heritage spots which are within the radius of 2 to 4 km. Even if you’ve hired a car or taxi, you’ll have to walk up to most of the places as the streets are quite narrow. When you look at the magnificent, carved havelis and the unique fort perforated with winding lanes and lined with houses and temples, you’ll be transformed to a bygone era and would never wish to return to reality.
After savoring a few local dishes like Ker Sangri and Daal Baati at one of the small joints near the fort, we proceeded to Sam Sand Dunes for a desert safari which was just the perfect way to end the evening on a delightful note. It wasn’t raining that evening and we just got lucky. When it rains, you can’t recognise the desert – heaps of sand are eroded, leaving behind bare nut-brown earth and a camel or jeep safari remains a distant dream. But we got to experience both and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, the ride is likely to take a toll on your back if you tend to become too stiff and don’t move in the same rhythm. Post the safari, you can either get back to your hotel or book an overnight stay at one of the desert camps to witness the breathtaking sunset and spend the night around a bonfire or simply appreciate the rustic performances by the folk dancers of Rajasthan.
My trip to Jaisalmer was indeed a memorable one as it felt like I was travelling back in time. Too hard to believe? Here’s a glimpse