In my nine months backpacking across India I have lived on a relatively small budget of between Rs 1,000 – 1,500 per day ($20-$30). Its not insanely cheap for India, but coming from my very comfortable middle class existence in Australia, it certainly got me out and into the real India. I have loved discovering Rs80 dhabas and stayed in some rather less than salubrious accommodations. It has been the experience of a lifetime and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, but it has also been physically draining and quite exhausting. There is only so often you can search your room for rats and clean your bathroom before it starts to get to you.
So when my lovely friend from Australia decided to join me on some of my travels and suggested we try out a small piece of the luxury that India is famous for I jumped at the chance. After much research we chose to have two nights of luxury in Jaipur… more specifically Tree of Life.
Tree of Life is a luxury resort about 15km out of Jaipur. It is so quiet you easily forget that you are in India (which after 9 months backpacking is occasionally a good thing!).
We landed in Jaipur at 5am after a night train from Jaisalmer. Unfortunately The resort got off to a bad start by forgetting to pick us up from the station, so after some negotiating with a rather eager hustler called Salman Khan (oh yes he tried to tell us he was THE SALMAN KHAN!) we were on our way. The road takes you past the Amber Fort and onto a dusty back path before you finally see Tree of Life emerge like an oasis in the desert. Thankfully the initial hiccup was redeemed quickly by taking us straight to our villa at 7am without any check in formalities required.
With only 14 villas, peace and privacy is the key…oh and luxury! In the space of 24 hours we went from no running water or electricity in a tiny mud hut in the middle of the Rajasthan desert , to a huge private villa with every imaginable mod con, private garden, outdoor spa and massage tables. No one else seemed to be around so we also managed to make the fabulous pool our own private place as well.
There was also a sun-kissed yoga area, surrounded by statues of Lord Ganesh that was so peaceful, it got me right back into my daily yoga.
Then there was the food.
Every evening the chef came to our door to take us through the menu for the evening and discuss any requirements or changes we might want. As a bit of a foodie, this is my idea of heaven! Thankfully the food did not disappoint. Each night we had a three course meal, including a spectacular thali, which was some of the best Indian food I have had in the last 9 months. All in a lovely quiet and relaxed environment.
Because the environs were just so lovely and we had been moving so much over the last couple of weeks (including Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaisalmer), we just decided to enjoy our three days of luxury. So gin & tonics, massages and tanning by the pool was pretty much all we did. In that time we saw a few of the other guests, but never felt crowded or overwhelmed, it was like our private little slice of heaven!
We did take one afternoon to actually leave the resort to see some tigers and lions that were being looked after at a nearby rehabilitation park.
I am not a fan of seeing beautiful animals in a caged environments, but it was explained to us that these tigers had been saved and needed to be separated from each other (there were about a dozen) so that they did not harm each other. They were looked after here and kept safe from harm.
Of course we had to also do the obligatory elephant ride, which wasn’t as much fun as I had expected it would be. I was more worried about slipping of this huge animal as it slowly plodded its way through a reserve. For such a large beast, I was surprised just how gentle and docile they are.
For me personally, the biggest takeaway from my afternoon visiting the elephants and tigers was that Saddam Hussein is still alive and well in India.
After three days, I felt so refreshed and relaxed, ready to face whatever fabulous chaos India had for us.
If you’re looking for a little piece of heaven, I highly recommend The Tree of Life.