Her ingenuous laughter urged me to keep aside the book I was reading and step outside our gorgeous canopy. I stood there in silence as I saw the reason for all her euphoria. My mother and sister were engrossed in conversation and hence there was no one stopping her from getting her hands dirty with sand. “Come see my little castle,” my two-year-old niece called me, still jumping with joy. Of course, the castle was only in her imagination yet it left me marveling at her. Leaving inside all her expensive toys, little Samaira was filled with happiness with something as basic as sand!
I have always believed in the power and beauty of simplicity. The belief was reinforced by her, fittingly in a place that celebrates simplicity. Enter the premises of Orchard Tents and Tranquility and you will know that minimalism is the defining word for this resort. Intriguingly, the simple entrance has led to several guests rethinking their decision upon arrival. “There was once a lady who grew apprehensive about the resort as she entered and wanted to leave right then. I asked her to take a look inside and then take a decision. She looked around and inside the tent and eventually decided to extend her stay with us,” Harpal Singh, the general manager, mentioned when I told him about my own perception of the modest entrance. “It is intentional as it is in sync with our overall philosophy of keeping things simple,” he added.
And you notice that philosophy distinctly. For one, there’s no telephone in the room to call housekeeping. So what do you do? You step out and ring the carved metal bell placed in your room. Within seconds someone will be at your service. Simple!
Going beyond the tangible things, the simplicity was also visible when the general manager himself drove us to the city when the resort’s cab was unavailable.
Accommodation: Luxury Tents
A short walk inside the premises leads you to 15 well-spaced, air-conditioned tents. The aroma of vitamin C is spread all over, what with the amla (gooseberry) and lemon ‘orchards’ within the premises.
There are tents designed for those with special needs as well. Each canopy has a comfortable bed, a small living area, dressing, a cemented bathroom with 24-hour (hot as well as cold) water supply, and a private verandah with two chairs.
The ‘Rajasthani’ interiors of the tents are awe-inspiring. Gorgeous silk curtains separate the bedroom from rest of the areas. All furniture appears regal. There’s a closet, a writing-cum-dressing table, and a striking coffee table in the centre. And there’s everything you hope to find in a hotel room – slippers, bathrobe, hair- dryer, and what have you. Curiously, there’s no tea/coffee maker in the room…which in a way is good because the masala chai they make in the kitchen is unbeatable.
The bathroom of each canopy is the only area that remains as is while everything else is dismantled during the off-season. It takes over a month-and-a-half to disassemble, and later a month to put it back again!
While there were so many other things that impressed me, one trivial thing was the small box of detergent kept in the bathroom along with other amenities including dental kit and comb. Isn’t it particularly helpful when you’re travelling with a baby? Of course, there’s a laundry service available too.
There’s a safe locking system inside as well as outside the door.
Food: Vegetarian & no alcohol
The resort does not serve non-vegetarian food and alcohol as a mark of respect for being located in the holy town of Pushkar. Isn’t that a limiting factor for guests? “Well, it hasn’t been for the past 10 years we have been operational!” quipped Harpal. “I tell them they should cleanse their system for a couple of days,” he chuckled, adding that most guests understand and respect the resort’s standpoint.
‘Golghar’ or circular tent set in the middle of the orchard is the dining area. The proverbial Rajasthani puppets are conspicuous. While they serve buffet during breakfast and lunch, we enjoyed a la carte since there were only a few guests when we visited. Dinners are best enjoyed al fresco around a bonfire and entertainment; but since it was neither that cold nor there were many guests as mentioned, we chose to eat in our gorgeous tent as we laughed heartily through the night.
The food is simple, prepared using fresh garden vegetables, mostly grown within the resort. The taste is enhanced by the exceptionally warm hospitality of the staff. We chose to have Rajasthani delicacies like gatta curry, ker sangria though North Indian and some continental options are also available. It also offers an option of sit down dinner on floor “traditional style”.
Even though we had the advantage of being the centre of attention, we could tell that the cordiality is ingrained and not enforced. As it is, there is one staff member allotted per tent. For me, service and hospitality is the most important factor in evaluating a hotel/resort. Orchard Tents & Tranquility won my heart mainly because of its unsophisticated, personalized hospitality. We shall remember the smiling faces (and how they ensured we enjoyed all our meals) of Mohan Lal and Narendra in the dining area for a long time!
Things to do
Pushkar has a lot to offer in terms of ‘sight-seeing’ especially for the first-time visitor. There is a lot to shop as well. But if you choose to relax at the resort itself, there’s plenty to do.
You can take a bicycle from the resort and take a tour of the village. You can also request a camel ride to Pushkar. The resort will arrange it for you. It also hosts puppet shows and local dance acts in the night, provided the occupancy is good.
There’s an indoor games and library area. Play carom, table tennis, ludo, chess, or pick a book and enjoy your reading time. Other games include badminton, archery, volleyball.
We, however, spent most of our time watching beautiful birds including peacocks wandering within the resort. For rest of the time, Samaira and her simple antics kept us busy.
Acts of Kindness
Education project: The resort’s parent company, Eastbound Tours & Travel, undertakes several initiatives to give back to society. The company has adopted a local school at Pushkar, where they provide daily lunches for the students and make monetary contributions that go towards the general upkeep of the school. “Guests at Orchard are also encouraged to visit the school and can participate in various programmes with the school children such as teaching them, cooking for them and spending an afternoon with them singing or reading stories,” informed Harpal.
Green initiatives: The resort uses organic methods of planting and harvesting. They also advocate the use of ecologically-sound ways to leave a minimal carbon footprint.
Tariff: Current rate on top booking portals shows a tariff of Rs 6500 + per night. Look out for attractive package the resort offers during the annual Pushkar camel fair.
24-hours room service and a limited menu is available at night
Free Wi Fi.
Excursions to neighboring towns and villages can be organized.
Guides approved by the resort are available to show you the ancient town of Pushkar.
Camel carts are provided to take you to and from the fair-ground should you not wish to walk.
How to reach:
Nearest Railway Station to Pushkar is Ajmer Junction. You can hire any private cab from the station.
Pushkar is 430 kms away from Delhi via Delhi – Jaipur – Kishangarh route using NH-8 and Delhi/Ajmer Expressway. It will take approximately 8 hours to reach. The road is smooth except for the rough patch just near the resort. The area is in dire need of attention from the authorities.
The nearest airport is located at Jaipur, almost 135 kms from the resort.
Blue Sky Dreamers was invited by Orchard Tents & Tranquility for a review.