A beautifully landscaped luxury resort in Rajasthan makes living in the desert an unexpectedly soothing experience.
As a tourist destination, Rajasthan is admittedly overwhelming. Its numerous palaces, havelis and forts teeming with tourists and hawkers under the scorching desert sun can take its toll on even the most intrepid traveller.
Enter Samsara, a luxury resort and camp designed to be a stop-over destination for tourists en route to Rajasthan’s heritage sites. Located in Dechu, on the desert highway between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, Samsara springs out of the arid landscape with all the promise of a refreshing and rejuvenating stay.
While the resort’s architecture emulates exotic India for the itinerant visitor, much of Samsara’s appeal lies in its profusion of greenery and evocative landscaping by Mumbai-based landscape architect Kishore D. Pradhan.
According to Pradhan, Samsara’s location in Dechu places it in an advantageous position to enjoy the overlapping topography of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. In Dechu, sand dunes co-exist naturally with tall trees and luxurious fields. Although the agricultural cultivation in the vicinity hints at the existence of ground water, the challenges to landscape an 8.5 hectare plot with a footprint area of 5,500 sq m under hostile conditions could not have been an easy one.
The landscape character for Samsara was inspired by the juxtaposition of sand dunes and lush green fields. Plants, trees and shrubs for the landscape were selected based on their ability to survive the severe climate of Rajasthan.
The landscape greenery comprises mainly of trees, ‘Kharek’ palms, shrubbery of hardy perennials and hedges and all plant species being selected to suit the local environmental conditions. One of Samsara’s main attractions is a natural sand dune located right outside the resort complex.
“The rich greenery of the resort complex pleasantly offsets the starkness of the sand dune backdrop,” remarks Pradhan.
Samsara’s undulating lawns, flowering trees and lush shrubbery are to be admired for their healthy foliage and vibrancy, especially in the face of an unapologetic desert sun, not to mention the region’s scarce water resources.
Regarding the latter, Pradhan appears to have it all sorted out, adding confidently, “The major sources of water for irrigation are ground water extracted from tube wells and recycled water from sewage treatment plants.”
Water also plays a more significant and visible role in the landscape design apart from keeping the greenery alive. A prominent feature is the lavish swimming pool surrounded by pergolas, daybeds and inviting cabanas at one end of the resort.
But much before visitors can swoon over this brochure-perfect scene, they are met at the resort’s entrance with the uplifting vision of a clear pool flowing past the lobby, restaurant, bar and banquet hall, reflecting the resort’s architecture and deep-blue sky in its serene face.
The reflecting pool coupled with a water-fountain feature at the entrance is no doubt a terrific way to quench the travel-weary visitor’s thirst for a change of scene from the monotonous sun-n-sand vista.
Pradhan however admits that the pool also serves a more practical purpose. “The pool creates a cool micro-climate as water evaporation lowers the ambient temperature,” he explains.
Within the resort designed by architect Nimish Patel and Parul Zaveri there are 30 guest rooms and two suites. These are arranged in two clusters with central open squares resembling village squares. The resort’s plan also includes a longitudinal building that accommodates reception, lounge and banquet areas.
The highlights of the guest rooms are the private sit-outs with a landscaped garden that offers an exquisite view of the resort and desert landscape.
In order that the resort complex sport a look as natural as possible, even the parking lot is shrouded by tall shrubs, blocking out the view of metal and chrome. Roads for vehicular traffic are paved with concrete for durability, whereas pedestrian areas are paved using locally-available sandstone.
The landscape architect further adds, “Segregation of vehicular and pedestrian circulation was carried out to ensure a tranquil atmosphere in major parts of the premises so that guests could enjoy undisturbed views of a variety of birds, including peacocks, and listen to their mesmerising calls.”
Spending a vacation in the desert has indeed never sounded as attractive as this.
Text By Christabelle Athaide
Photographs Courtesy Ar. Kishore D. Pradhan