Thursday, 3 March 2011

Spectacular lake views at Sardar Samand - where the Bishnoi bloom!

This post is not so much about a garden, but about an extraordinary landscape in Rajasthan - one of the most remarkable places I've visited in my Indian travels over the years - and somewhere I shall definitely revisit on future trips to India. Located some 35 miles from Jodhpur, with its magical gardens at Bal Samand and Mehrangarh Fort, this property is known simply as Sardar Samand because of the huge lake it overlooks. 
Sardar Samand is in Pali District and is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture I've seen in this part of India. The building was commissioned in 1933 by Maharaja Umaid Singh - as a hunting lodge - and is still used by the Maharaja of Jodhpur today. I've spent many hours on the internet trying to find out more about the architect who designed this property - George Goldstraw - but there is little more to be said about him except that he was British and also the State Architect.
I saw more species of birds here than anywhere else except Phalodi. The early morning views over the lake, as the sun rose, were spectacular. And as the hunting lodge sits high on a hill, all the main rooms have commanding views of the lake, with its impressive array of birds, including large flocks of white pelicans, storks, flamingoes, geese and wildfowl. The early morning chorus is akin to a concert before sunrise, and the sight of the birds arriving is one I'll never forget.
Sardar Samand is located in the heart of Bishnoi country, with little else near it except small villages. When you leave the main road from Jodhpur, who wonder where exactly you are going! But a somewhat bumpy road eventually leads you to the gates of the palace and once inside, you could be forgiven for thinking you have entered a whole new world and left the hustle and bustle of India behind you. The views over the lake and surrounding countryside are spectacular, and you are far removed from the crowded streets, noisy highways and strange smells that are so much a part of this wonderful country.
Below the main hunting lodge there is simple garden (above) overlooking the green valley below. It is as though time has stood still here in the heart of Bishnoi country. The Bishnoi (Bish= 20/Noi = nine) tribes are recognised throughout India as conservationists, who follow a strict code of 29 principles, including protection of trees and no hunting. 

5 comments:

  1. Your posts make me want to jump on a plane and head to India. If only things were so simple. -- Bom

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  2. That is quite a hunting lodge! The views onto the lake and sunrise with the birds is stunning! What an incredible experience!

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  3. I have to say this is awesome.
    Thanks for sharing.

    yvonne

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  4. It is a lovely garden, it has color and structures for the eye to take in.

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  5. India fascinates me! I really want to visit someday. It just seems so beautiful and magical and intimidating all at the same time. When will you be back home? I hope you'll share more photos from your adventures!

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