While You Lay Sleeping – A lot can happen in Rajasthan’s golden lands, including dead-of-night tiger encounters. We found incredible natural riches there, and it’s more affordable than you think!
Why It’s Worth the Visit:
- India is affordable.
- You can travel as cheaply or as lavishly as you want. There’s everything from backpackers to guest houses to palace hotels.
- Rajasthan is home to some of the country’s grandest palaces and forts, including Amber Fort and City Palace in Jaipus.
- India boasts an astonishing array of bucket-list destinations such as the Himalayas, the Taj Mahal, Goa Beach and the Ganges.
Extraordinary stories often have the most ordinary beginnings, and this one starts early one evening near a village called Khandar when Amarsingh Gurjar, a subsistence farmer with a carefully crafted moustache, made a bed beside his wheat field. He’d slept there ever since he ploughed the land because sambar deer, nilgai and wild boar are a menace out here in rural Rajasthan, and could ruin his gehu (wheat) crop overnight.
The nights are uncomfortably cold in December so Amarsingh wrapped a blanket high around his shoulders, and before climbing into bed he walked a few hundred metres to check on a camera trap he’d set up that afternoon. It was working fine so he patrolled with a torch as he retraced his steps, and at around 9.30pm, satisfied his crops were safe for the time being, Amarsingh lay down and pulled the heavy blanket over his body. The camera trap might have been part of Amarsingh’s moonlighting job as a tiger tracker, but he wasn’t at all worried about sleeping under the Indian skies; he had always been safe.
Now this might not seem ‘ordinary’ to you or me – because how could anything in India’s striking desert state ever be mundane – but to Amarsingh it was just another day in the fields. However, this is where ‘ordinary’ ends, and for the rest of Amarsingh’s story to make any sense you need to sit beside us on a crumbling wall of the 1200-year-old Ranthambore Fort; We’d like to show you a few things.
It’s so beautifully peaceful up here; a perfect Rajasthan afternoon wrapped in that earthy smell of hot stones cooling late in the day. There’s a very soft breeze shaking the leaves of the forest below us – or perhaps it’s a troop of langur monkeys. See that dark green patch in the canopy? It’s a Ficus religiosa, the bodhi tree or sacred fig, so named because it was under one of these megalithic trees that Buddha reached enlightenment. Out there on the Aravalli hills, most of the trees arc dhok (Anogeissus pendula), from the same family as African birch, and their leaves are a favourite with nilgai and the deer of the park. Look past the wild peacock on that wall; can you see those green birds above the fort’s ramparts? They’re parakeets, flying with a freedom so many of their species will never know.