I am not surprised that Conde Nast Traveller chose this as one of the Best Hotels in the World on their 2017 Gold List. It has long been one of my favourite places in Rajasthan. Although many people visit this Indian state, not many are lucky enough to get out into the countryside and experience the wilderness like you can at Jawai.
Offering eight luxurious tents and set within a landscape of craggy granite formations, caves, kopjes, Anogeissus scrub and winding sand river-beds, this camp is designed in a timeless flourish with canvas, stainless steel and leather accoutrements.
Each tent at Jawai is abutted by a private deck that looks out upon unobstructed views of the dramatic wilderness around.
An inviting dining tent and a scattering of discreetly located areas to unwind in form part of the encampment while the spa tent nestles in the lap of seclusion nearby.
There is a charming collection of decorative artefacts, hand-crafted using age-old traditions of Indian workmanship to complete the winsome furnishings, created by the celebrated artisan Michael Aram.
Jawai’s location, the unique flavour of this land and its offerings provide for an entirely different experience from the rest of Rajasthan, yet there is an abundance of heritage around. The area makes for comfortable access to the airy citadels of Kumbalgarh Fort, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For those still thirsting for monuments, the sculpted temples at Ranakpur are only an hour’s drive away from Camp. Two of Rajasthan’s most visited destinations; Udaipur and Jodhpur are equidistant from Jawai and easily accessible by car.
The Camp also lies minutes upstream of Jawai Bandh, one of western Rajasthan’s largest water reservoirs and a sparkling attraction for an array of migratory birds, including flamingos, geese and cranes.
Leopards however are Jawai’s predominant attraction and a thriving population of the felines have always ranged across this region. Guests can track these normally elusive big cats using trackers and drivers riding in customised 4x4 safari jeeps, designed in-house.
Early one morning I sat in an open jeep deep in the rocky, hillocky fascinating landscape. Tall stately men, moustaches bristling under vast and intricately tied crimson turbans herded their goats and cattle past us while just over 100 yards away, perched on the rocky ledge of a hill a leopard calmly surveyed the scene.
Suddenly, incredibly, a group of schoolboys appeared along the path snaking through the scrub jungle – scrubbed and neatly dressed in shirt and tie, cheerfully unconcerned about the leopard and vice-versa.
There was not another tourist in sight and for me that one scene and moment combining tradition, modernity, ancient landscape and potent wildlife, perfectly encapsulated the magic of Rajasthan that drags me back again and again.
Everything at Jawai was done to perfection - from the decor of the tents, the attention to each detail, the planning of the rides in the incredible jeeps that can scale boulders with ease, the leopards and their peaceful co-existence, the towering granite boulders, morning tea at the lake, outstanding food and the service was perfect.
It certainly was one of the most incredible places I have ever visited. Contact me here to discuss your life changing holiday to rural Rajasthan.
Images provided by Jawai Leopard Camp courtesy of SUJAN Luxury