When one thinks of Rajasthan, stark desert landscapes, grandiose medieval palaces and imposing forts come to mind. However, in the village of Bijapur near Jawai, it is the stealthy shuffle of leopards that holds sway over residents and visitors alike, and not the legends of brave kings and spectacular battles. In this unexplored destination, time seems to move slower than usual as you observe the elegant felines in their natural habitat. For your post-pandemic getaway, take a chance on the curious mix of wildlife and culture on offer at Bijapur through a luxury stay at the Bijapur Jawai Lodge.
Sprawling over five acres, the Bijapur Lodge is situated at the foothills of the mighty Aravalli mountain range that acts as a natural barrier between the Thar desert and the fertile plains of North India. The wilderness that surrounds the property throws up ample opportunities for encounters with leopards, crocodiles and migratory birds. Moreover, the Rabari tribe residing in Bijapur presents a distinct cultural experience that complements the stunning natural beauty of this eco-resort.
In keeping with the untouched natural bounty of its surroundings, the Bijapur Jawai Lodge is firmly rooted in the sustainability ethos from the ground up, literally. Through a process of natural regeneration of the vegetation on the land, the property has transformed from a dry plain to a lush jungle in just five years. Moreover, roof tiles and wooden boards from old havelis nearby were procured and repurposed for furniture, decorations and the furnishings inside the suites. To further minimize the carbon footprint, the resort is completely self-sufficient when it comes to energy and water due to the installation of solar panels and a rainwater harvesting setup.
Championing the eco-friendly cause has paid rich dividends already as a variety of bird species now frequent the newly created wood on the resort grounds. Professional and amateur birders are likely to spot the Great Indian Bustard, darters, kingfishers and falcons among thousands of other local species on their specially curated forays into the wilderness.
The undoubted showstoppers of the jungles around Bijapur are however, the leopards. The spotted cats – though found in abundance across Indian forests – are usually very difficult to sight in their natural habitat. In this land of leopards however, guests report frequent sightings of the elusive cats as they frolic in thickets of shady trees. While guided jeep safaris afford an extensive rendezvous with the birds and animals of Bijapur, take on a jungle picnic along streams in the forests for a leisurely immersion into the sights and sounds of the forest with friends and family.
Post an excursion into Bijapur’s leopard hills, embark upon a culture trip into the village, where the Rabaris, a shepherding community have been residing for hundreds of years. A peek into their lives is a glimpse into a way of life that is starkly different from the sanitized lives most of us are used to in cities. Over a cup of tea in their homes, you will discover the hardships and the joys of eking out a simple, yet fulfilling life in the harsh terrains of the Aravalli foothills, where temperatures can soar past 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months and drop below 5 degrees Celsius on some winter nights.
Having experienced Rabari hospitality and their distinct cuisine, head back to the Jawai lodge for a special evening underneath the open night skies: What better way to cap off an exhilarating day exploring the best of Bijapur than by indulging in local Rajasthani fare sitting by the bonfire under the glimmering tapestry of stars overhead?
How to Get There:
The airport closest to Bijapur is the Udaipur airport, which is 135 kilometres away by road.
Guests from Delhi and Mumbai can opt for a railway journey as the railways offer direct connectivity to Bijapur.
Additionally, Bijapur is at a driveable distance from Jaipur (around 390 kilometres), Jodhpur (around 160 kilometres) and Ahmedabad (around 290 kilometres).
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