Chhatra Sagar

Near Pali, Jodhpur, India Book from Book from £419 per night

Magical tents pitched on a dam overlooking a lake teeming with birds, in the heart of rural Rajasthan
The stunning setting of Chhatra Sagar’s hand-stitched tents - perched, east-facing, on a 100-year-old dam overlooking a lake awash with waterfowl - means you arise to the sight of the sunrise and the sound of birdsong, as the scent from bowls brimming with rose petals fills the air. It’s an idyllic spot to take a breather from the Rajasthan city crush.

Amid the luxury ensuite tents you'll find an open-sided reception, a comfortable sitting area, and a library cum bar space. The camp is an updated version of the 1920s hunting parties hosted by the Nimaj family, who have owned the surrounding working farmland for more than a century. Still the welcoming hosts, the Nimajs are wonderfully on-hand, organising bird-watching trips, fascinating tours around the local village and walks through the outlying pastures. The food is organic and delicious, and the hilltop sundowners allow you to revel in a view that’s blessedly big-sky and free from other beings.

Highs

  • The unbeatable location is right on the edge of a lake, with extraordinary peace and quiet - so rare in India!
  • The food - widely considered the state's best Rajasthani home cooking
  • Alfresco dinners take place under an incredible canopy of stars; afterwards, you can sit around a bonfire chatting with your fellow guests and star-gazing with the telescope
  • Beautiful tents kitted out with hot showers, waterside sitting areas and bags of old colonial charm
  • The lake and its surroundings are home to more than 200 species of bird, as well as blue bull antelopes

Lows

  • There's no ‘monument’ sightseeing as such, but excursions can be arranged
  • The tents are quite close together and it gets cold in winter (heaters and hot water bottles are provided)
  • If there's no monsoon the lake dries up by late March (and even earlier on the odd occasion)
  • It's quite remote, but that's the point!

Best time to go

From October to early April it's warm and dry, with temperatures beginning to rise from March onwards. Nights can be chilly, but hot water bottles are provided. Towards the end of March you may find the lake is beginning to dry up, meaning less birdlife to see (though the water level can start to drop even earlier if the rains have been poor). The camp is closed during the monsoon season.

Our top tips

Make sure you stay at least 2 nights to fully unwind and enjoy the various guided tours on offer: the hosts are extremely knowledgeable and you'll get a fascinating insight into rural traditions, farming, local wildlife and the environment.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Luxury Tents
  • 11
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Each luxury canvas palace is hand-stitched and furnished with locally crafted furniture and fabrics. Their outstanding features are the gorgeous hand-painted floors, which are based on traditional henna designs. You get a huge comfortable bed, soft pillows and private outdoor seating so you can lounge around watching birds skimming over the water and antelope grazing on the jungle-fringed banks beyond.

We stayed in one of the 2 Hilltop Tents, which get the best sunsets, panoramic views and a cooling breeze. They’re also much more private - great for honeymooners. The remaining 9 Double / Twin Tents are placed in a line along the top of the dam, so they share equal front-row watery views.

Modern slate bathrooms have hot and cold running water, showers, bathrobes and slippers. After dinner on a cool winter’s night, you’ll find your bed pre-warmed by a welcome hot-water bottle placed between the sheets.

There’s no air-con but you get large powerful fans and plenty of natural breeze. We never felt stiflingly hot, despite visiting in the hotter months. They also lack locks and secure storage, but we felt entirely safe during our stay.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Lotus seeds with cardamom, rosewater-and-rose-petal pudding - the time-honoured family dishes cooked with care by the gentle Nimaj ladies are exceptionally tasty. Meals flavoured with fenugreek and chillies, grown organically in fields nearby, are savoured in the open-sided dining tent or alfresco under the stars, accompanied by campfires and lake vistas that are as superb as the food.

Our 3-course fixed menu dinner included an excellent Goat curry and imli baingan (aubergine and tamarind), alongside chappatis, aromatic rice and raita. Lunches are a little less formal and breakfast features lots of fresh fruit, yoghurt with pomegranate and eggs any way.

Early morning tea, coffee and biscuits are brought to your tent so you can wake up gently to birdsong – just watch out for the cheeky squirrels after those biscuits!

Alcoholic drinks are also available, including sundowners (normally ice-cold beer or gin and tonic) served on top of the hill as the sun melts into the vast plains spreading out beneath.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go on a guided bird-watching tour, or simply stay put and spot an abundance of wildlife from your very own sitout

  • Accompanied by one of your hosts, wander on an enchanting tour of the village and farm, taking in the vast grazing pastures and fields of wheat, mustard, cotton and chillies. You'll get chance to meet the villagers, visit their homes and watch farmers, potters and silversmiths plying their trade

  • Take a Jeep excursion to the traditional farming and shepherd settlements. Because the Nimaj family aims to help local people through responsible tourism, it's a unique opportunity to gain a real insight into rural life in Rajasthan

  • Practise yoga or meditation on your terrace. There are no formal classes, but the incredible tranquility here means it's the ideal place to unwind

  • Follow the jogging tracks and walking trails around the 100-year-old reservoir

  • Head up the hill to enjoy sundowners under an endless orange sky

  • Spend time stargazing - the sky turns into a blanket of stars once darkness descends

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Although the camp accepts children of all ages the atmosphere is aimed at adult travellers. We would strongly advise you not to bring young kids or toddlers as the dam parapet is low (and non-existent in places). Older children with an interest in nature would enjoy it here, but teenagers wired to their iPods will quickly become bored.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Each tent has space for an extra bed (baby cots are not provided).

Kid Friendly:

Location

Chhatra Sagar is 110km east of Jodhpur, near the village of Nimaj in the district of Pali, Rajasthan. It's 95km from Ajmer, 135km from Nagour, 230km from Jaipur and 260km from Udaipur.

By Air:
Jodhpur (100km) is the closest airport, with regular domestic flights from Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Jaipur and Udaipur.

From the Airport
The drive from Jodhpur airport to the camp takes 2.5 hours - transfers can be arranged at an extra cost.

By Train:
Train services run to Jodhpur from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Agra, Ajmer, Bikaner and Jaisalmer - transfers from Jodhpur station can be arranged at an extra cost.

By Car:
It's an easy drive from Jodhpur, Khimsar, Nagour, Manwar, Osian, Narlai, Ghanerao and Deogarh, and a longer drive from Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Pushkar, Roopangarh, Udaipur and Jaipur. If you want to arrange a car and driver for a wider tour of Rajasthan, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Rajasthan and getting around

Airports:

  • Jodhpur 100.0 km JDH

Other:

  • Beach 550.0 km
  • Shops 20.0 km
  • Restaurant 20.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 5 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

Outstanding

10/10,

In a word - fantastic

10/10,

Chhatra Sagar is very special, its a privilege to stay at such a tranquil place. The owners are exceptionally knowledgeable about the area, its wildlife and how Rajasthan is changing. The village walk was a highlight. The food is all local and delicious showing another facet of Indian cuisine. Service was excellent. A rare spot and an opportunity to see rural India.

10/10,

Despite there being no water in the lake, this was an exceptional site to stay in. The nature walk with binoculars was enlightening and the whole visit inspiring. The tent was beautiful and the owners really intelligent and thoughtful.

10/10,

We had a wonderful 4 night stay with a gracious host and perfect service. Delicious home style meals in the big tent and gin and tonics delivered to our patio. A great respite from busy India and our tent at the top of the hill with its big sky views will be an all time favourite. Not at all stuffy and utterly relaxing. We loved the slow paced bird watching walks and the interesting village trip. The reservoir is very low but this does not detract from a wonderful property.

10/10,

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