Samsara, Dechu – Romancing the Dunes
Amidst the endless dunes of Thar is Samsara Luxury Resort & Camp. It is located in Dechu, a village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. They offer two categories of accommodation : luxury suites and villas , desert campsites. On reaching Samsara at 6 pm in the evening, we were transported to our campsites which are roughly 10 mins drive from the main resort. As the jeep drove on the dunes towards the campsite, I could see white tents laid out in semi circular fashion in the middle of the desert. There were a total of 21 luxury tents. I proceeded towards my tent which was towards one end of the semicircle. I am not a fan of camping or campsites as I am always skeptical of the basic facilities provided there. However in Samsara my fears quickly disappeared when I entered the tent. It was truly a luxury camping site with all the facilities -including availability of water, electricity, comfortable beds, adequate heating – among the barren sand dunes.
I threw my bags in the room and rushed for my Camel Safari. I was asked to mount a reluctant camel. Locals said that the camel had not been saddled for a few days. Whaaaaaaa! I could already imagine the camel grinning back at me! The story ended well and I managed to climb on the camel. As part of the safari, we were taken to the top of the hill to view the sunset. The paths to the top of the hill was edgy and my partner (camel) made sure that I get all the scares as it swayed its body from side to side. I often wondered how desert traders used to travel miles on top of this wonky vehicle! I managed to reach on time to view the sunset. The view from top was amazing and it was mesmerizing to see the dunes change their colors. From the vantage point, I was able to view both the sun set and moon rise at the same time.
After the sunset view we briefly retired to our tents to freshen up for the dinner. One of my memorable experiences was dining at the dunes amongst hundreds of flickering lanterns. It was a unforgettable evening with candle light dinners, bonfire, local folk music and dance. The backdrop was adorned by the full moon beaming over the desert. It was a surreal experience that cannot be fully described in words. After dinner, I proceeded towards my tent guided by the lantern trail and the overhead moon.
The next morning we were scheduled for a desert safari. The same open jeep that brought us to Samsara took us on the desert ride which included desert safari and visit to local village. It was cold in the February morning and we clung to our jackets as the jeep roared through the desert dunes. We came across some desert animals like Nilgai and antelopes and occasionally peacocks. I held to the railings of the jeep as it drove up and down the sand dunes.
On the way to visit a local village, our driver showed us fields of red chilies, cumin and mustard. Rajasthan is India’s top mustard producing state. Mustard oil is heavily used in their cooking. It was a striking contrast to see the sands on one side of the road and rich greenery with lush mustard fields on the other side. We stopped at a local village to view the lifestyle of the locals. Desert experiences extremes of winter and summer. The housing style was designed to protect the residents from these extremes.
Red Chilies Fields
Village in the Desert
As we rode back to the tent, we noticed the trees of Ker and Sangri. The famous Rajasthani dish, Ker Sangri is made from the Ker berries and Sangri beans. The history of the dish is closely linked to the story of the survival of Thar Desert. During famine, when almost all vegetation died off, there were small berries and beans that grew in abundance in these places. Fascinated by this, the natives decided to dry and cook them and thus the fabulous dish “Ker Sangri” was born. I was totally in love with this dish and it was part of my lunch and dinners during the Rajasthan tour.
Another interesting dish I came across during my stay in Samsara was the Rajasthani Raab. It is a popular soup taken during winters to avoid cold and cough. The key ingredients of the drink is pearl millet flour (bajra) and buttermilk. I personally found the soup starchy and I felt as though I was having rice water. It was different but definitely not voting for a refill!
After a sumptuous breakfast on the dunes, I bid farewell to this hidden gem of Rajasthan. Leaving my footprints on the desert, I took memories of my wonderful stay in Samsara.
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