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Ramathra Fort, Gaganpur, Rajasthan

by on March 3, 2008

We took the high road, struggled past city traffic and eventually found ourselves on the low ones that don’t bypass life altogether. Dusty roads broken by bursts of colour, as a juggad, the tractor, heaves past, carrying an impossible number of vividly clad women and brightly turbaned men in the makeshift cart. Finally, up dark and sheer turns, through we are at Ramathra Fort, Rajasthan. As forts go, this is not a very large one but its ramparts are no less imposing and grand.

tent.gifThe family had shifted to Jaipur and few months ago Ravi and Gitanjali our host came back to restore their ancestral home. Off with the offending jungle that had encroached to clear the courtyard. The foundation of the six tents in cheerful whites and yellows and dark teak furniture made to order, large pristine white fixed bathrooms constructed. Structured, ordered, simple and delightful, soothing and most comfortable much like everything else in the fort, where discreet staff bring you your teas on the lawns or the sundowner under the darkening skies around the fire.

The fort can be a trip in itself, but there is more. There is electricity, erratic though, but no television. You do have cellphone connectivity, but if you position yourself cleverly, you could be out of reach. There are no restaurants on the outside, something that is unlikely to be missed with the fresh farm and local delicacies served at the fort and included in your tariff. It is quite here, barring the sounds of nature. Left to your devices, there are ample options for lazing around but there are also a good many jaunts you could take on food.

Up the hill are the ruins of the first intended site for the fort. The hilltop affords a spectacular view of the valley and neighboring hills. The guard cum guide told us that Ramathra is in fact derived from Ramtehera, it would appear that Lord Ram took some time off to soak in the ambience on his journey. Down the hill from the old Shiva and Ganesh temples are the farms, canals, sleepy hamlets and omnipresent goats.

ramathra-fort.jpgOur trip was more of an adventure trip. We went boating on the Kalisil lake on a misty day along with the binoculars we enjoyed watching the myriad birds. We spot no crocodiles. More adventurous was the jeep safari’s. We went to visit Chuha ki Kho one of the gorges along the Daang plateau. A short climb down from the rocky plateau with its short and sturdy dhok and ber trees is a little hole from which a stream flows. Ravi told us that the place was once tiger’s country and leopards and bears still prowl the land.

We were back in good time for the ritual of the evening. The portable chulha is pulled out on the lawns, the fire stroked and Ravi and the old family cook, Latoor, takes turns, one with the show and tell family recipe of the day, and other with ghost stories, the kind that abound in hills. No ghosts trouble my sleep at the conclusion of this superlatively wonderful but all too short stay, the hot water bottle has been neatly tucked between the sheets and my mind takes flight as smoothly and gently as the geese printed on the panels of the tents.

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