To call it an oasis in the middle of desert will not be a hyperbole. It is an amalgamation of ethereal experiences – waking up to the sound of peacocks; swimming in a crater like pool; visiting the local market in a village; taking a cooking lesson in someone’s backyard; sampling local cuisine; snoozing in air-cooled mud houses; watching sunsets from the rooftop; having drinks by the lake side while locals serenade you with folk songs; star gazing and then sinking into your king sized comfy bed – are a few (among many) things one can do at Lakshman Sagar.
Lakshman Sagar located amidst the arid region of Marwar in Rajasthan, promises and delivers exactly that experience.
Once a hunting lodge of the Thakur of Raipur, Lakshman Sagar, now is an eco-friendly resort, catering to those looking for authentic rural experience. It is located in middle of a jungle, far away from civilisation. To reach there is no mean task, but that adds to the charm (and also to the cost) of the place. It is built on a zero kilometre concept, which means that almost everything has been sourced locally from nearby villages, thus improving livelihood of the people around it. Food is organically grown on their own vegetable garden. Out of an 18 member team, I am told 15 are from nearby areas and believe me when I say this: they are well trained and have now a skillset, which will carry them through.
The property spans 34 acres of land and is set around a ridge and on the bank of a lake, which is a watering hole for antelopes, blue bulls and migratory birds. It is a surreal experience to sit by the lake side around a bonfire, to combat a slight nip in the air.
The property has 12 huts , which are spaced out to maintain a high degree of privacy and tranquillity of the resort. These are mud houses with thatched roofs to keep it cool during sunny days and air coolers are just enough to put you in a deep slumber as if, you have not slept in ages. They have captured the vibrancy of Rajasthan in bold and beautiful colours of Fuchsia, Lime green and Orange-red, while doing the interiors of the hut. The colours are not overwhelming but a lively dash of energy when contrasted against brown, dry mud walls.
We were looked after by the trio of Manhar Singh (property manager), Amol (attendant) and Dayal Singh (guide). Their service is too cute, if I may use that word. On our nature walk, half way through, we were treated with chilled soft drinks and water, while watching the sunset. The camper was placed by someone on the spot, just when we started the walk. On enquiry, Dayal singh told us that at night, after service is over, they research ideas to elevate the guests experience and they came across “Sundowner”. What impressed me is the honesty, with which they looked after us. It was reflected everywhere from munchies magically appearing on our sunbed near the pool; to rooms being serviced more than 2 times in a day; to kerosene lamps being lit in far off areas of the property, which are not even visible.
It is no longer a secret that Asians have cracked the code, redefined it to a great extent, in the hospitality business. It amazes me to see boutique properties playing catch-up with their ‘big brothers’. Our all demands were met with aplomb from customising food menu to sourcing local speciality dishes.
This is an all meal inclusive resort and the menu is pre-fixed. Having said that, they are completely flexible to your dietary requirement and taste. The cuisine is primarily local, comprising of lots of pulses, gram, and meat. I really like Rajasthani cuisine so I enjoyed my meals. They don’t use premixed curries and even grow the spices locally. To make sure they adhere to it, they don’t have a refrigerator (We didn’t know this was possible in this century). All vegetables are grown by them and they follow the “Farm to Fork” principle to the core. To stir things up a little, they have themed dinners and field breakfasts. We were fortunate to have a jungle themed dinner, where they cooked the meal like old times, without using chopping knives, and other modern kitchenware. You can expect to have smashed potatoes, rough edged onions, spiced curry and meat (“lal maans”).
Field breakfasts are also an amazing way to explore village life. Early in the morning they take you for a walk through fences, shrubs, rocky terrain, maize plantation to the nearest hut, where you are treated with a kingly breakfast spread of tomato chutney, makke and bajre ki roti,aloo parantha, curd, buttermilk, fresh sweet lime juice. It would need another post to describe the field breakfast experience; so we’ll let your thoughts wander off into the wholesome rural breakfast experience, we had.
THE FACILITIES ON OFFER
The property boasts of a crater-like swimming pool, carved out of the huge natural rock, which is an absolute beauty and catches your eye as soon as you step in. No doubt, it serves as a backdrop for numerous swimwear shoots. In the evenings, they set up a bar, which has a good collection or foreign and local drinks. The local whiskey with a rose-like flavor, on the rocks (pun intended) is a must try, for an authentic experience.
Space is not a constraint here and they have huge sitting areas facing the lake. They have two common areas built out of the existing towers. One is Zanana ( for ladies) with pink curtains and offers splendid view of the pool and has a fountain in it. Second is Mardana ( for gents) with blue curtains, which primarily serves as a dinning hall. Mud huts have carpet area of more than 1000 sq feet and come equipped with their own air cooler, plunge pool, huge deck, king size bed, living room, ensuite bathroom, wine chiller, and sitting corners. Attention to detail is mind boggling as all items placed in the room are aesthetically designed from locally sourced material, adding to the rustic appeal of these huts.
WHAT STOLE THE SHOW?
It has to be the design of this resort, without a doubt. Everything has been designed to give you the authentic experience of staying in a village, nestled in the Aravalis, by the lake. This place is about rural experiences with all the comforts imaginable. You have mini brooms serving as shoe cleaners, twigs from neem trees to serve as a toothbrush, brass vessels as glasses, cots on the deck to lounge under the sun and what not. All that remains is for you to take out your kurta (Headgear optional, though highly recommended) and disconnect with the rush of “city life” while you sink into your cot.
Now that you are convinced, lets bring you up to speed with the practicalities. Know more about Lakshman Sagar
It is ~ 2 hours from Ajmer and lies between Beawar Station and Sojat Road Station, which falls on the route of The Aravalli Express (this train runs between Mumbai and Jaipur.) You can get off on any of these stations and take a taxi to the resort or request for a pickup. Closest commercial airport, in Jodhpur is about 2 hours away.
Hole in your wallet
Expect to pay around INR 13,500 per night meals inclusive. Credit cards are accepted. Drinks are charged extra.
Internet / Television
There are no television sets on this property. 3G signal is available at the highest point of the resort. It is a different issue that you may want to stargaze and catch-up with your partner than fiddle with your mobile phone.
– Staff speaks excellent english
– Loos are western
– Decent collection of Rajathani and Foreign liquor
– No library or board games, you can carry yours, if staying longer. Birding and some other books are available on request
– Inhouse activities like nature walk, cooking class, field breakfast are complementary. Outside activities includes visit to Raipur fort, village walk, horse-riding, safari to nearest wildlife sanctuary and local shopping.
The author of this article only profiles properties he has visited and where he would like to go again, without blinking an eye or changing anything about it. Author paid for himself, during the visit. Any property is reviewed on five parameters, which are:
- Setting :- The property needs to have its own personality.
- Service: I like being looked after, without the staff being intrusive.
- Food: Has to be sumptuous, even if there are limited options.
- Facilities: No minimum requirement but should have basic comforts that should add to the character of the place.
- USP: There has to be one unique quality, which makes it different than the other offerings out there.