India Diaries: Khem Villas.

Share

Adi & I travelled to Rajasthan together some twenty six years ago. And when we met after all these years, Rajasthan was where the conversation started. Several (other) conversations later when we decided to tie the knot, we also decided to re-visit the places we saw as kids and re-create the old memories (& create some new ones), at the earliest opportunity.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Adi & I, circa 1987. On a roadtrip to Rajasthan!

 

 

We found a great one, on our last visit to India and seizing it, charted a road trip to a few places in Rajasthan, the first of which was Sawai Madhopur to visit the Ranthambore National Park.

While researching for places to stay, both parties unanimously voted for Khem Villas and it had to be Khem Villas, even if it meant re-arranging our entire trip around the available dates at the preferred destination.

And yeah, we had to do that!

Although I’ve been writing these ‘India Diaries’ in my head since day one of my last visit but have been procrastinating it for long. It is easy to go see a foreign land and boast & brag or criticise & analyse it. But when it comes to homeland, you want to be the best judge, remain objective, factually correct and unbiased. At the same time you want to write good things about your country, especially now that I’m living abroad, my rights to criticise seems to have been automatically & unofficially revoked. For the sometimes verbal often non verbal message that I get, ”What do you have to complain about?”

Places like Khem Villas make the job easy.

The first chapter in India Diaries is all about Khem Villas. As it rightfully deserves to be written about patiently, exclusively and thoughtfully, to do any justice to it.

Khem Villas is modern luxury meeting the rustic charm of India without even slightly disturbing the delicate balance of nature but rather pro-actively contributing to it, setting a stellar example of sustainable tourism.

(Okay, in case this is sounding like an excerpt from a thesis, I’ll make it simple)

It is wonderful eco-friendly place and we loved, loved and thoroughly loved it!

This luxury (although they don’t use this prefix generously enough) jungle camp is the legacy of the Tiger Man of India, Mr. Fateh Singh Rathore, which is being run categorically efficiently, by his son & daughter-in-law. You can read about them here.

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Bienvenue à Khem Villas!

 

 

Our journey started at the wee hours of a nippy  day and by the time we hit the brakes we’d peeled several layers of clothes off, baking in the desert sun. We found Khem Villas tucked at a corner of Sherpur village, after driving through several narrow & tortuous dusty roads. A warm ‘vermillion’ welcome and a cool refreshing drink later (which really helped after the drive) we were shown our cottage.

Its great to have choices and if your idea of a camp steers closer towards a tent then you’ll be in for a treat here. Cause from where I looked, the tents stood tall & crisp, transporting you back in time when regal beings ruled.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

The tent style accommodation at Khem Villas

 

 

However , we picked a thatched roof cottage for camping, for it enveloped the idea of romance along with the feel and thrill of jungle camp.  Let me show you our cottage that we homed in for a few days (imagine a graceful swaying of arm gesture).

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Somewhat like this. Just somewhat. But if you have/had a better image in mind then you can kindly ignore this.

 

 

Khem Villas is a two word definition of what a jungle camp truly is.

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

We bought the idea of soaking in an open bath ‘gazing at the stars’ and I’m really glad that we did.

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

The modern fanfare has been beautifully imbibed into basic Indian philosophy of simple & minimalistic living at Khem.

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Our cottage was set in flame like thicket, overlooking a small manmade pond and imposing grey-blue hills of Ranthambore tiger reserve  beyond it.

 

 

After our long gritty drive and Adi not in best of health, the first thing we enjoyed there was a good peaceful healing sleep and woke up to soak in sights that looked dunked in honey.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Bonjour!!

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

The restful sleep did a world of good for Adi. Besides ‘grin and bear’ is all one can do in such times.

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

I hope my crumpled shirt and PJs are not a huge faux pas. If at all, they are a sign of how well I slept and that we’re on holiday and so it’s okay! BTW that beautiful door is the entrance to the cottage.

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Our cottage faced south west and the angled sunlight before sunset made the setting spectacular for pictures and we took a lot of them!

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guidekhem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Good sleep + rocking chair + sunset + jungle camp = BLISS

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Wallowing in the wilderness!

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

Well, I did say we took a lot of pictures! I hope you too ‘grin and bear it’ :P

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

A bit more exploring around the cottage.

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

And a bit more contemplating.

 

 

 

 

We stayed at Khem for three days and went for two jungle safaris in all. Although we could do two each day, we did not want to overdo it, especially at the beginning of a long road trip. Besides we wanted to enjoy being at Khem Villas, because places like these not just offer you a bed and food, they give you an experience.

Exploring the property is what we did, in between the safaris.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, khem villas review

We took salubrious walks on these walking trails inside the property on mellow march mornings. And a bit gingerly at night.

 

 

 

Where Khem Villas now stands majestically was a barren land that has been nurtured to metamorphose & evolve into its present day glory.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide

And knowing every blossom is a fruit of hard labour, it is more awe inspiring.

 

 

While the cottage and its surrounding remaines one’s private sanctuary, one can mingle and mix with fellow tourists at the campfire close to the lake below.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, ranthambore tiger reserve

There are several small ponds in the property like the one close to our cottage. To round off the camping experience one can enjoy a camp fire close to this place in winter nights. What more could you ask!

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, ranthambore tiger reserve

Enroute exploring every nook and cranny of the place….by another placid pond we found this!

 

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, ranthambore tiger reserve

Little treasure of a swing, artistically allocated in such a beautiful place. Perfect place to sun yourself. Or philosophise. Whatever is your cup of tea.

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, ranthambore tiger reserve

We were not only gladdest things under the sun! We found him basking in the sun too close to pond #4.

 

The croc is more or less a permanent member at Khem and therefore enjoys the liberty of moving from pond to pond at his fancy (and that includes the pond right in front of our cottage!) How I (or rather a kid in me) was hoping to find him right outside our door one morning!

That never happened.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, ranthambore tiger reserve

Exquisite dining area brightened up by these block print spreads, that is adding all the colour and contrast to otherwise an immaculate building!

 

 

I absolutely loved them!

Anyways, lets talk food! Food at Khem is 100% vegetarian and 100% delicious! Home grown veggies are presented in a different recipe from world cuisines everyday that you have the luxury to enjoy in gorgeous table ware. All the meals were wholesome and wholeheartedly enjoyed. They would even pack a sandwich for a snack while we went for our safaris. Even though I did want to have it badly I was not sure having it in the jungle would be a good idea.

Our morning chai would arrive piping hot shielded under a cozy and on the nail, at the said time.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, khem villas review

I wish I had lots and lots of mornings starting this way!

 

A rich library comes to the rescue of those who’ve forgotten their books in their shelves at home!

 

The food service was par excellence and remained unequalled for the remaining trip.

 

Blankets, water and a snack at the start of safari and hot towels to wipe the dust, that we gathered from various regions of the national park, off our faces was a gesture of impeccable hospitality!

 

There are just too many things that we love about Khem Villas, the most important of it being their transparency about how they built the place, how they run it and how it goes on & on, day after day. They’ve done an impressive amount of philanthropic work along the way and they even organise free trips to see it, more up close if you like. We also highly appreciate the fact that they direct you to the government website for booking of safaris, which is how it should be (I’ll be posting more on our safari per se, in the next post).

Our warm hostess, Ms. Usha Rathore met us personally and one can see her looking over the place with the precision of a professional and it was really great of her to connect to her guests on one-to-one level. She also presented a slideshow about the place and about ‘Tiger Watch’ project! You can read more about it here.

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, khem villas review

Our first halt was a flying start to our road trip!

 

 

Adi was unwell at the beginning of the trip and weren’t sure if we would be able to make it to Ranthambore. But our stay had not only been wonderful in more ways than we expected but also absolutely therapeutic to Adi!

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, khem villas review

We have no personal connection to Khem Villas, but I’m truly proud of this place! And I so wish this was the general picture of my country.

 

Our stay here, stayed matchless for the rest of the trip and for many other trips over the world!

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, khem villas review

We moved to our next destination in Rajasthan with lots of wonderful memories and a wish to revisit the place!

 

 

 

khem villas, ranthambore, ranthambore national park, jungle camp, luxury jungle camp, where to stay in ranthambore, best jungle camp, things to do in khem villas, things to do in ranthambore, ranthambore national park guide, khem villas review

Pastlife Seamstress’s big thumbs up for Khem Villas!

 

 

We loved the place & the unique story it has and here’s an ode to Khem Villas….

 

Once upon a time, not very long ago,

there was a piece of barren land where nobody would go.

Until someone dug & tilled, with lots of seeds to sow,

and then tended and nurtured, for lofty trees to grow.

Then was built some jungle camps at foot of Ranthambore,

where explorers came from far & wide, the jungle to explore!

They chased the tigers during the day and camped here at night,

Heard the tiger tales galore, by campfire burning bright.

Also followed the birds & beast, to claim a camp in Khem,

Thus, the picture of barren land was never again the same!

 

 

Now as to whether we had an encounter with a tiger or not, find out in the next post  here 😉

 

Comments

  1. shagufta says:

    As always a beautiful place is beautifully described.Poem is excellent———-a nice way to say thanks for well spent holidays.

  2. Jungle me Mangal !!!!!!!!!real ‘vilasita'(luxury).Both of you looking great.Good luck.

  3. Akanksha says:

    That makes it to the list of my to-do things while in India! Absolutely beautiful! The pictures and you.