The Dune retreat is located in the land of a medley of tribes, and castes. They mingle together to form a fascinating tapestry that flutters with their colourful clothing, their sloping thatched roof houses called Dhanis, their vibrant festivals, their temples, and their arts and crafts.
Once upon a time, at regular intervals in the middle of the night, the seemingly dead Thar Desert would suddenly come to life with a colourful caravan of hundreds of camels laden with spice, silk, tapestries, bronze ornaments, incense and other items. These were not ghost trains. The Thar was a part of the Silk Route, a 2,000 year old circuit between China, Turkey and Italy that passed through North India.
The route no longer exists today. However, in a recreation of bygone times, The Clement Dune Retreat offers a camel safari to the nearby sand dunes where the views of the sunset are majestic. The gently undulating movement as the ‘ship of the desert’ carries you on the back can be quite a meditative experience, even therapeutic. As the sun goes down and the stars begin to twinkle in the sky, it is easy to be transported back in time to the era of camel caravans
Dune Bashing (Jeep Safaris)
Careening down a hundred foot dune, with the sand moving underneath like a dry rapid, dust flying in the air in all directions! It’s certainly not an activity for the faint hearted, yet something guaranteed to set your blood pumping and exhilaration flowing in every vein. Forget the roller coaster and surrender to dune bashing.
Using off road vehicles (SUVs), you can explore this activity behind the wheel, in the safe hands of expert guides. A bit bruised but triumphant is the feeling that comes to mind after a morning of dune bashing.
Khichan Bird Sanctuary
Demoiselle Cranes fly to Khichan village all the way from Mongolia and Eastern Europe to spend their winter months. Even though desert is not the natural choice of migration for Demoiselle cranes for winters, it is the unique story of human-animal relationship in this region responsible for this phenomenon.
Animals & Wildlife
The usually shy wild animals like black bucks, chinkara, blue bulls (Neel Gai), even desert foxes etc can always be spotted in the region because they can sense that they will not be harmed here. There are many instances of chinkara deer being kept as pets in homes here.
Far away from the night lights and pollution that engulfs urban landscapes, the Dune Retreat offers a stargazing experience that is unforgettable.
In the desert, every evening, the sun bids adieu leaving behind a bouquet of colours and hues unlike any other. Simultaneously, as the sky turns dark, constellations wheel in, millions of silver pinpoints in the sky. Far from the haze of the urban skyline, our galaxy, the Milky Way arches above. It is a stellar experience that can be even further heightened with a telescope and a knowledgeable expert provided by the retreat.
Surrounded by desert sands the enthusiasts can contemplate the immensity of the universe twinkling above their heads. It is a most humbling and exalting experience at the same time.
People & Crafts
To compensate for its barrenness, the desert landscape somehow seems to bring out a heightened sense of beauty among its inhabitants. This is reflected in their colourful clothes, their thatched, sloping roofed huts and their arts and crafts.
For people who appreciate the beauty of handmade products and tribal crafts manifested in indigenous techniques there is a lot that Jamba and the surrounding areas can offer.
We take visitors to houses in the vicinity of the Retreat, which specialise in making woollen rugs of camel hair and hand-knotted carpets have geometric motifs and formal designs.
Households also make their own jewellery, such as necklaces, bangles and earrings. In fact, they have distinctive styles that tells apart one community from another. The nearby town of Phalodi is famous for its exquisitely embroidered shoes or ‘Jutis’.
The Jamba Temple
Ancient temples, and exquisitely carved living homes of the rich merchants called havelis are just some of the sights that greet the visitor as they set out to explore nearby towns.
The nearest temple, that of Jambaji, the founder of the Bishnoi sect, is in fact is
Read about French Photographer Franck Vogel’s work on Bishnois and the story of construction of Jamba ji temple.
A festival of the Bishnoi community is held twice every year, in March and again in September at the Jambaji temple, whose dome is visible from the Dera Dune Retreat. Other well known local fairs of the area include Lohawat fair where ghee and coconuts are offered ; Kolayat fair, which is celebrated between October and November on Kartik Poornima (full moon), on the shores of an artificial lake;
Havelis & Forts
Forts form the crowning glory of any excursion in Rajasthan. Usually perched atop hilltops, carved out of massive stone blocks, they peer down at the surrounding countryside, sentinels and rulers of a bygone era. Cities of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner being just a 3 hour drive, day trips to Mehrangarh Fort, Jaisalmer Fort or Junagarh Fort are entirely feasible.
In nearby town of Phalodi, Havelis belonging to rich traders in the times of silk route are an attraction.