Not far from Jodhpur on the Jodhpur-Jaisalmer highway, the sleepy hamlet of Dera is disappearing from the map. But maybe not anymore.
Now the languid charm of this Thar Desert village is making an alluring entry into the Rajasthan tourist map – thanks to India’s first desert botanical resort – Kaner Retreat.
Kaner Retreat (Kaner is the Hindi name for the oleander flower, also known as the desert rose) offers you resort comfort while taking you on a tour of the bushy vegetation speckled with reddish-brown earth of the Thar of the Rajasthan.
Welcome to my country (Padharo, mhare desh), says Sapna Bhatia, founder of Kaner Retreat, as she unveils India’s first desert botanical complex, located about 80 km from Jodhpur airport (75 km from Jodhpur station).
With the aim of promoting sustainable tourism, Sapna and her husband Samir Bhatia, investor and alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, are now offering a Thar Unplugged off-road vacation package introducing tourists to the flora and fauna of the magnificent desert.
Botanical walks, a jeep safari, an excursion to the Khichan Bird Sanctuary, horseback riding and an outdoor lunch in an olive grove are included in the package at Kaner Retreat that Sapna put together as a tribute to his childhood in the desert.
“We have 10 villas, each with a local flower theme. Commissioned botanical art and antique accents are used to create the floral themes,” she says.
“We believe in sustainable tourism. So we used reclaimed wood and local materials for the construction of the resort,” she adds.
The resort building is also loaded with childhood memories and nostalgia for Bhatia.
“I spent my childhood on a small farm in the Thar Desert. It is not easy for things to grow and flourish in the wilderness. You have to wait for everything in the desert.
“The small seeds stay dormant for most of the year, waiting for the perfect day to take root and grow. A small shrub can take 20 years to grow into a tree. Flowers bloom once a year,” she says. .
And, the longest wait is for “Meh” or the monsoon.
“This is the reason why peacocks dance, women sing songs on the swings, and saffron and cardamom infused delicacies are created to celebrate the onset of the monsoon or“ Sawan. ”The air becomes heavy with the smell of Petrichor and everyone seems to be dancing on the fleeting carpet of verdant grass, ”says Sapna.
“My life back then was linked to plants, animals and culture. Folk music and language woven everything into words to be etched in my mind forever,” she says.
Sapna then moved, first to Delhi, then to London, covering stories as an international journalist.
“It was as if a desert plant had been planted in different habitats, and some days I wanted the days of my childhood. Those carefree and delicious days when one was drunk with joy and laughter,” says- she.
“With Kaner, I want to retrace my childhood and introduce guests to the beautiful life and warm hospitality of the Thar Desert. There are desert plants to welcome you. Your large villa has an interior garden filled with flowers. Each villa showcases the best of commissioned botanical art. The herbal cuisine draws deeply on local and contemporary cuisine, ”says Sapna.
There are activities and experiences to introduce tourists to the culture of the place Bhatia calls home.
Jodhpur-Jaisalmer Highway. Village Dera, Jodhpur – 342025
How to book:
Thar Unplugged Package (3 nights recommended)
Arrival at Kaner Retreat with lunch.
After lunch – Orientation to the Thar – A storytelling botanical walk that explores local plants, famine foods and modern inclusions in the Thar Desert.
The walk will be led by a botanist and international journalist. (included in the package)
Evening Tea – Enjoy tea and the welcoming breeze in the greenhouse-inspired lounge.
Followed by a camel safari in the sacred grove. (included in the package)
Dinner – Traditional thali dinner on the front of the stage. Enjoy the magic of the evening with candles and stars.
Breakfast in the greenhouse lounge.
After breakfast – Tune in to the adventure – Paragliding
A revealing botanical workshop on health and healing.
Lunch – Private dinner in the billiard room.
After lunch – Equestrian workshop at the stud farm – a unique experience led by Sanvi Bhatia, our 13-year-old rider who trained in India and Europe. The stud is an ideal place for children to discover life on the farm. (included in the package)
Tea – Outdoor tea on a hill next to the stud farm.
Dinner – Warm buffet dinner in the greenhouse lounge.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Breakfast in the greenhouse lounge.
After breakfast – Visit of the ornithological reserve of Kheechan where thousands of cranes arrive by plane from Siberia.
Mediterranean-inspired lunch in an organic olive farm followed by a walk and activities. (Children can enjoy tractor rides and play games) (included in the package)
Evening tea – On the roof.
Followed by Jeep Safari in the unexplored wilderness. (included in the package)
Breakfast with farewell to Thar.
Reconnect to life with memories of Thar alive.
Inaugural package fee at 14,000 / = plus 18% GST per night per room. (Max. 2 adults per room. Free for children under 6 years old. Children between 6 and 12 years old to 1000 / = per child. Children over 12 years old to 2000 / =)
Paragliding supplements on the actual to be paid directly to the paragliding company.
Road trips to different sites will be extra (if necessary).
The package will only be confirmed upon receipt of full payment.
(Custom packages are also available)