Tented safaris carry on the royal traditions

Jodhpur has been a centre for producing handicrafts and today it is the biggest cottage industry of the capital of Marwar. Tent making has been an art of Jodhpur and during the feudal era a number of tents manufactured by the artisans of Jodhpur became the prized possessions of the royalties.

The famous Dal Badal tent was a palace in tent and once pitched it gave a look of a palace in canvas. Tent making as an art was developed at Jodhpur and a whole range of these tents would spring up overnight for guests at a wedding, for a viceroy and his entourage, for trade, war and safari.

The former ruler Gaj Singh has revived the tradition of the royal camps. The rulers of Jodhpur would go out in the desert during winter just for the pleasure of feeling some fresh air.

Gaj Singh's Oxford educated, polo playing son Shivraj Singh, while schooling in England brought some friends from Eaton. It was decided to go for an outing during the Christmas break. Old tents were rolled out from Ummed Bhawan Palace and they went for a camping trip. The cooks would roast partridges as the youngsters played a game of cricket. When the boys returned they enthusiastically narrated their experience. "Babji" Gaj Sigh decided he would make tent camping a tourism product. The die was cast.

An English designer Clarissa Mitchell, has been the person to make it happen. She designed tents based on the famous Jodhpur family tents, but she made it comfortable for westerners. Tent makers of Jodhpur used printing fabrics in the color of the desert to line the inside of the canvas tents,twisting ropes,making tassle,stitching embroidery weaving duries and even making furnitures. The art of tent making was revived and Gaj Singh's company Jodhpur Jawaharat Pvt. Ltd. exports them all over the world. Tents of various types and names -Pergola, Simla canopy, Mahe canopy, Raj-tent etc. are manufactured on orders and exported.

The collection of tents are ideal for garden, poolside, beach or for safari. All tents are made by hand in the traditional method using strong fully waterproof cream canvas for the exterior. The interiors are made from natural cotton with distinctive woodblock prints in selected colors and motifs. Each tent comes fully equipped with bamboo poles, pole covers, iron pegs, wooden finials and a full set of pitching plan and pitching instructions.

Special designs for custom made theme tents or canopies for interiors can be made to order.

The former Maharaja arranges tent camps for the tourist where the lavaratory is as good as a five star's. There is a long list of inventories of 147 items for every tent.

The electric light resembling lanterns lit the tents from inside. Travellers who dought the comforts of the tents forget the little discomfort once they are inside the tent. Tents were laid out for Pushkar fair and the Nagaur cattle fair. The rows of tents are straight and true, all is in immaculate order.

Groups can plan a private camp and choose their own locations. For these the minimum is usually two nights and fifteen tents. Tents could be pitched deep in the Thar desert, or in the hills and even in sanctuary. Dinners are candlelit.

At Sardarsamand, the private resort of the Maharaja tents are laid around the lake for a lifetime experience. Its a unique tourism product which would soon become fashionable for those going on a horse and camel safari.

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