If you are not one for roughing it out in tented accommodation on an adventurous outing, you don’t have to rule out the adventure altogether.
Between the lush confines of boutique hotels and the wild charm of camps, a happy mix of the two is up for grabs. Snappy beds, mobile loos (which can’t be called bathrooms) and limited space — it’s much a thing of the past if money is not a raging worry.
Quite by right and much by choice, luxury tents are the answer to what one could call a luxurious call of nature. What we are primarily looking at is a chance to be out in the field, caressed by a sea of green and wooed by visual glory, yet protected to the point of being pampered.
In the wild, wild environs of Ranthambhore, a visit to Sujan luxury hotels, Sherbagh, might be just the place you would have imagined as picture perfect.
Here, you will find a set of 12 luxury double-bed tents with private verandahs for each. Interiors have been done in campaign-style furniture, handcrafted in rosewood and teak, and these camps have their own en suite bathrooms.
A visitor who went there a few months ago tells me she had never thought of having the luxury of a bathtub in a wildlife sanctuary. Beautiful by day and mystical by night, bathed in the yellow glow of specially-designed lights, a stay in these tents would cost you about Rs 20,000 per night for double occupancy in season, between October and April.
If horse-riding is what you fancy, a stay at the Rohet Garh Wilderness Camp is what we recommend. About 18 kilometres from Rohet Garh in Jodhpur, this camp has a stable of 8-9 horses.
While you camp in mobile tents which are furnished with two full-sized beds, luggage stands, lounge chairs and tables, horseback rides through the forest area and the villages nearby are planned for you during the day.
Also on the itinerary are two charming heritage properties, Fort Chanwa, Luni, and Sardar Samand Palace, Pali, a perfect day’s ride from Rohet Garh.
Apart from safaris which you can choose to take, royal picnics are on the menu as well. A grand recreation of a bygone era, here you can experience being waited upon by liveried attendants as you lie on large mattresses with bolsters and soft cushions by the waterside.
Food, wine, and an afternoon siesta ... all this is yours for just Rs 5,000 a night in a tent, and an additional Rs 4,000 for horse rides and royal picnics. The seven luxury tents at Rohet Garh are in season from October 15 to March 30.
Pilgrimages too have their share of high-end comfort, going by the number of luxury camps that are being planned in and around holy cities.
Owner of Delhi-based label Mauve & Pink etc, dealing in high-end furnishings including luxury tents, Poonam Bahl, tells me about a camp that they custom-made for travel operator Cox & Kings at the Allahabad Kumbh Mela in 2001.
Sadhus had protested against the “five starisation” of the religious event and a court order followed. But such “invasions” have not died down and plans are underway for more such camps in other religious places.
In fact, in Badrinath, Sarovar Hotels has just introduced 19 luxuriously-tented accommodations in the quiet environs of the village of Ghangharia for travellers headed to places such as Shri Hemkunt Sahib and the Valley of Flowers.
The fully-carpeted rooms are sized 14x16 feet, with a 12-ft height to make them look larger. Regular tents are usually sized at 10x12 ft. The latter, two kilometre away from the camp, is home to rare and colourful flora and fauna such as snow leopards, musk deer, Himalayan thar, monal and pheasants for company.
A helicopter service is available to Camp Ghangaria as well, situated 13 kilometres from Govindghat. Hemkund Sahib, meanwhile, is a 4 km trek from Ghangaria. While the deluxe tent is yours at Rs 2,250 per person, per night, a deluxe suite is priced at Rs 4,000 per person including breakfast, though the introductory price comes with a discount.
And if you can afford space and want such tented accommodation of your own —perhaps in your very backyard or at the farmhouse — it can come for an average of Rs 40,000. At Mauve & Pink etc for instance, your order will take approximately four months to be custom-made, with prints, shapes and interiors of your choice.
So whether it is a rectangular tent you want for your garden as a permanent sit out, with royal interiors and intricate block-printed curtains, or an octagonal live-in tent which can be set up easily at your will — you can have it all.
What makes such a tent luxurious is primarily the minute detailing that goes into the making, the embroidery, interiors, colours and, most importantly, the size.
“In such tents, we use much finer cloth than those used in regular ones. The cloth may be dyed and block-printed according to the client’s requirement. The tents are hand-stitched, keeping a luxury bathroom space in mind behind a canvas door,” says Bahl.
Having taken orders from the Oberoi Group of Hotels for properties such as the Raj Vilas and Udai Vilas, she says such exotic experiences can only be found in India. “In Australia too I have come across tents of this size and comfort but the prints and designs we make are so Indian,” she points out.
Buyers of such tents are largely hotels and Europeans and the market remains narrow, mostly because of the kind of space required and maintenance.
“These tents need to be stored safely in steel trunks and only last upto five years, though experience says it’s more likely to be around three-four years, after which the canvas starts developing cracks, especially if it was stored while it was still damp,” says Bahl.
But that’s only if you’re up for one of your own. Else, take a short break at one of the exclusive camps.
6 months ago