It is around 10 in the morning. The queue is getting longer and the crowd restless, chirping in anticipation. Pigeons are cooping up. There are a few shy sparrows and a squirrel. An enthusiastic magpie has just flown in for a casual inspection. There’s still time, but not much. It flies away at once and returns with two of its buddies. The news has spread – breakfast is about to be served. They are slowly making their way towards the food, even before we’ve had the first bite. So we give them some and they happily accept, each grabbing a comfy space to nibble on the offering. All this happens within a span of few minutes, in the common area, ideally called ‘Baithak’. A living-room, if you may, where EVERYBODY sits together and relaxes. Welcome to Bikamp Aravallis Camp Resort, a rustic property located in an undisturbed portion of Rajasthan.
It’s the Wild, Wild West!
The tone is set for the remainder of the days that I’m here. The setting, incredibly peaceful, is a fine mix of flora and the ruggedness people have come to associate with Rajasthan. The presence of various species of birds, however, has come as a pleasant surprise. And the fact that the Bikamp Aravallis Camp Resort is westward to Sariska Tiger Reserve has added to the thrill. Talk of tiger and leopard sightings pops up during conversations many a time. As evening turns to night, the King of the Asian Antelopes, Nilgai (Blue Bull) graces us with its presence and upon hearing distant murmurs disappears as quietly as it had walked in. Countless rustles are heard through the night. The moon is at its full. The domes shine silver; the windows emanate a golden glow. Stars seem timid; spirits unswerving. Bonfire is lit; barbeque prepared. Stories are in order; night is young.
Farm-fresh Food and Luxury that doesn’t dent the Environment
Bikamp Aravallis Camp Resort is comprised of 12 Mongolian-style Yurt Tents with attached bathrooms, each supported by a firm bamboo structure and 5 inches of insulation, I’m told. To keep the guests cosy on wintery nights and the room well-ventilated on hot summer afternoons. The memory foam mattress, the pillows and the quilt, I find to be quite comfortable and warm. I’ve had no trouble sleeping. The room, the linen and the bathroom are quite well-maintained, and neat and clean. Kudos to the camp owner: Ritesh Saxena, for using 100% Eco-friendly and recyclable material. To top it off, the entire camp is solar-powered, and powerful enough to run through the day. The food too is delectable and homely, organic produce straight from the nearby farms to your table. Pro tip – ask for local delicacies like Gatte ki Sabzi, Kair Sangri and Aloe Vera Sabzi. You will not be disappointed!
Bring Back the Good Old Days
There is no internet connectivity here. In fact, even network is hard to come by, which means there are plenty of better things to do: conversations, sports, village tours, sunset hikes to nearby summits. Or you can just curl up with your favourite book for hours without interruption. Fair warning though, every evening the birds start what I think is a laughathon and it gets incredibly difficult to not laugh with them. I, for one, was immediately transported to the time of my summer school breaks back in the 90s. When playing various sports was the most enjoyable thing to do. Bikamp Aravallis Camp Resort has a big, adjoining playground and sports equipments for you to bring back the olden days. Cricket, Football, Badminton, Volleyball, Darts, Air-Rifling, Frisbee, Cycling, Old Tree-Swings, Chess and other mind-bending delights, take your pick. I left no sport un-played.
Go Tiger-spotting in Sariska Tiger Reserve or Explore Rajasthan’s Rich Heritage
As I mentioned earlier, Bikamp Aravallis Camp Resort is situated barely 36 kilometres westward to Sariska Tiger Reserve. Spread over 800 square kilometres, it is a home to variety of animals like the Leopard, Sambhar Deer, Chital, Nilgai, Four-horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Hyena, Jungle Cats and of course, the Tiger. Bikamp Adventures’ Jeep Safari takes you deep into the heart of the jungle. Observing these stunning wildlings in their natural habitat is a thrill like no other. You can either opt for the morning safari or the one in the evening, as per your convenience. That being said, it is during the morning safari you have more chances of spotting the tiger(s).
If you have time to spare, you can visit the popular, haunted fort-ruins of Bhangarh, Ajabgarh and Pratapgarh. However, if feeling a little less adventurous but no less curious, you can explore the Mauryan Circular Stupa remains and Asoka’s Rock Edicts (3rd Century BC) of Bairat, a city which was once a part of the Mauryan Empire. It is locally known as Bijak-ki-Pahadi. The town, quite nearby, now called Viratnagar, also houses some of the earliest surviving structures from the time of Akbar including cenotaphs, one Mughal Gate and allegedly, a lodge where Akbar stayed overnight every time during his yearly pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif.
Over the course of a few days of me being holed up here, glamping under the moonlight, lazying around for hours, photographing birds, going on hikes, a village tour, and a heritage tour, Bikamp Aravallis Camp Resort made for me a perfect base to explore one of Rajasthan’s better sides of wildlife, history, and nature. All at once! With heart-warming hospitality from the staff and locals alike. I’ll leave you with a few pictures.