North India and Rajasthan camps - Ramathra Fort
More than 350 years ago the Maharaja of Karauli gave a fiefdom to one of his sons and his descendants continue to farm this green belt in the Kalsil River valley in a remote corner of south Rajasthan. Until recently, the fort lay crumbling but it has gradually been brought back to life by the current incumbent.
The surrounding roads are in a shocking state and the final approach through the forest along a cobbled track rattles your bones to the marrow as the fort comes into view. Built for battle, strong perimeter walls and parapets loom up out of the trees and command far-reaching views over the surrounding countryside. They are now a marvellous spot for a cocktail at sundown.
Entered via a massive gateway, the main courtyard is a mix of ruins, tumbling bougainvillea and six renovated guest rooms all with views of farmland and forest, simple modern teak furniture, large comfy beds and hand-woven rugs. The two suites on the second floor have a large sitting room with cosy fireplace, four poster-bed, private balcony and you can even enjoy those views from the loo.
There are also six tents with permanent fixed bathrooms on the lawns. After a dip in the turret Jacuzzi (yes, really!) or an evening of star gazing in the fabulous clear skies you can curl up in bed with a hot water bottle and fall asleep to the distant sound of jackals howling in the night.
You host, Ravi, who sports one of the most well-groomed moustaches in Rajasthan, is a wildlife enthusiast and extremely knowledgeable about the history and geography of the region. With his wife Gitu he will oversee your meals of locally farmed food cooked in the family style, take you down to the lake for bird spotting, or on a jeep ride into the countryside in search of wildlife.
A stay at Ramathra is a fabulous insight into rural life in Rajasthan. One of the best things to do here is to take a walk to the small local temple and down to the local village, accompanied by one of the staff, where you’ll find a traditional and unspoilt way of life - and friendly people who are just as interested to know about you as you are about them.
Village walks, boat rides, leisurely cycling and walking, jeep safari into surrounding countryside.
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