Driving in India is a life threatening affair. Many roads are just an unpaved single lane but the adeptness of the drivers, as they miss by inches oncoming trucks, is unquestionably, a great talent.
On the road to Khimsar Fort, established in 1523, the honking horns weren’t out of rudeness, I soon discovered, but a warning to the hoards of trucks who have signs on their rear stating to please honk. As they move over to the side to let cars pass, I’m amazed there are no finger signals or hostile looks.
Two old cannons at the entrance of the fort are the perfect adornment on this 11 acres property. Smartly, turbaned and uniformed guards salute guests and within nano seconds, you’re hooked on the spectacle of this unexpected resort. Perched on the edge of the Great Thar Desert in a very rural area, this was the ancestral home of Rao Karamsiji who was the 8th prince of Rao Jodhaji, Maharaja of Jodhpur. And Khimsar was one of the head houses of the Karamsot Rathors.
Within a short time I was introduced to Kunwar Gajendra Singh, the 19th descendant and his wife, Kunwrani Priti ( who is indeed, a very pretty woman). A section of the fort is their residence which is part of this intriguing complex.
On the property are a few shops but one of great importance is the Nila Moti Trust which was set up by a Swiss woman and encouraged by the Maharani. A few dozen local women make wonderfully crafted clothing with the proceeds going to these women and the village. Facing a rectangular garden, the pool, the sprawling landscape, is the remnants of the old grey stoned fort, now the convenient location for dinner. Dark intriguing niches have tables set with candle light.
A narrow stone rampart leads to a domed terrace, once part of the fort’s observation area. It’s pure perfection on the constant sunny days, for breakfast. It’s not difficult to spend hours lingering over the delectable choices of food and the view.
The rooms of this 50 room hotel/fort are massive. The bathroom large enough that in most hotels it would be the bedroom. Dressing and sitting areas and the huge bedroom with scalloped Rajasthani architectural arches have all the modern conveniences. About 15 minutes away, is another property of the Singhs. Ten wonderfully designed clay, sand and cow dung round thatched roof huts will soon become 16 since they are so popular. Sitting in the midst of the desert with all the creature comforts, the sky is invisible since it’s blanketed with stars. One wonders if there are any left for the rest of the world. Camel rides and evening meals around bonfires provides an unique experience.