Last weekend presented an opportunity for a quick visit to Chhatrasagar Nimaj, before they wound up the camp for the season.
Saturday Morning we set off in our cars and accomplished this road trip all the way from Delhi to Chhatra Sagar in about eight hours. The next 2 days at Chhatra Sagar were a series of fun moments and unforgettable experiences. The accommodation, cuisine and simple activities like village walks, open jeep safaris, nature and bird walks, an introduction to the star-gazing, all taken care by the family added up to one memorable holiday. The elements of learning at Chhatra Sagar are immense – culture, cuisine , nature, rural life, environment and its protection.
The naturally air-cooled lounge tent, uses a screen made of locally grown dry weeds put into a bamboo frame and kept moist with water from a trough. A simple technology that’s not only effective but also environment friendly. The lounge tent especially on a March afternoon is where most guests lounge, read a book , relax or look out over the lake. All this while you sip a tall cool drink or a chilled beer .
There’s always someone at hand to announce the spotting of a rare bird, a giant sized toad, turtles or fish in the lake. The occasional sight of blue-bulls wading through the Lake was a fascinating sight. The lounge also doubles up as a dining tent during lunch / dinner.
At Chhatra Sagar, every meal was a highlight with a varied menu and a family member ready to explain the concepts of Rajasthani cuisine. How the cuisine adapted to the extremely hot and dry conditions of Rajasthan and how locals invented innovative methods of not only preserving food but putting to use whatever grew best in the arid desert climate. Harsh would also take us on an adventure on his 4×4 Jeep through the villages and countryside around Chhatrasagar, which brought an opportunity to see some of the wildlife of the area like blue bulls, birds etc from close quarters. The best was to watch Trigger (Harsh’s impish fox terrier ), chasing a group of blue bulls. The Afternoon birding walk along a trail marked out along the estate and around the lake was most interesting. Nandi not only showed us a lot of birds but also his remarkable training given to one of the young men ( a part of Chhatra Sagar staff now ) from the village on birding. One of the staff accompanies Nandi with a Binoculars, tripod, bottled water and a bird book in hand. I was amazed to see that he could identify the birds being spotted by Nandi and open the appropriate page in the book to show guests the bird being spotted. Another simple activity is the small walk up the hillock present close to the reservoir. The ten minute walk up to the top of the hillock at sunset affords fantastic views of the surrounding country side and breathtaking sunsets. The night sky brought us more learning. With two telescope set to view the clear night skies, Vasundhara (Nandi’s wife) pointed out various stars, constellations, planets, how to identify them etc. We even had a glimpse of a Saturn with its rings in clear view.
The accommodations are most comfortable with spacious tents, providing enough space to walk around inspite of the large bed with bed side lamps, a writing table, 2 pedestal fans and a couple of cane chairs. Infact we had an extra bed places closed to the windows and the tents still managed to look large and spacious. The tents have attached bathrooms with western toilets, shower area and wash basin with running hot and cold water, a dressing mirror and a luggage rack large enough to hold all your luggage. All tents have draw-up canvas netted windows, you can see the lake lying right there on the large comfortable bed. Just outside the tent is a sit out facing the Lake, ideal to watch sun-rise and lake views throughout the day.
Chhatrasagar is a home stay, boutique and very special. Most of all it is entirely personal and unique to the location. Each member of the family contributes to the wonderful experience we have had there. Little wonder why one of our recent clients adjudged the Chhatrasagar experience as THE BEST on her trip.