In Western Rajasthan’s Pali district, Jawai and Bera surround one of the largest dams of the state sustaining the water requirements of this desert state. The Jawai Bandh forests have been afforded the status of a conservation reserve in 2013 and it is the intense efforts of Shatrunjay, Bera Safari lodge’s owner and a few conservationists who crusaded to stop the mining grants that resulted in the protection of the landscape of Jawai and thus the Leopards. The location of Bera is unique and in proximity to the ‘Liloda’ hill one of the better-known hideouts of the leopards. Shatrunjay has taken full advantage of the location and built all the five cottages facing the hill. On a good day you may even spot a leopard lounging on the hill while lounging on your bed.
The smallness of Bera Safari lodge and Shatrunjay’s focus on the experience is something that resonated with the RARE ideals. One of the important things that Shatrunjay aims to do is to educate guests about the connection between the Leopards and the Shepherds and the story of the Jawai leopards,...
The smallness of Bera Safari lodge and Shatrunjay’s focus on the experience is something that resonated with the RARE ideals. One of the important things that Shatrunjay aims to do is to educate guests about the connection between the Leopards and the Shepherds and the story of the Jawai leopards, whose care and protection was due to the foresight and benevolence of the Shepherd community. Tourism he says is just the beneficiary. So to run a project that ensures that the community is included and the Leopards are safe is the reason for his hospitality business.
Know Your Host
Shatrunjay, a sommelier par excellence, photographer and naturalist runs Bera Safari Lodge with his wife Katyayani. The lodge is just an extension of their residence, for guests are heartily welcomed and assured of an insightful experience of Bera. Katyayani overlooks the running of the Lodge with...
Shatrunjay, a sommelier par excellence, photographer and naturalist runs Bera Safari Lodge with his wife Katyayani. The lodge is just an extension of their residence, for guests are heartily welcomed and assured of an insightful experience of Bera. Katyayani overlooks the running of the Lodge with grace and pride while Shatrunjay organises all the activities that the lodge offers, in tune with the Bera’s ideal of preserving the wild and empowering the community. For Shatrunjay believes that keeping the forests safe and the Rabari community included will secure the Leopards of Jawai.
Simplistic, comfortable and spacious, the cottages are spread over a ten-acre estate, each of the five cottages are designed to look out to the wilderness outside and famous Liloda hill. The cottages are large and well-lit with picture windows stretching end to end to give you glimpses of nature and the wild right from the comfort of your bed. It is also a design element to keep the wilderness and nature in your proximity. Landscape around the cottages is a work in progress and planting indigenous trees and shrubs will eventually to be an extension of surrounding wilderness. The dining facilities are in the main lodge where about twelve people can dine at the same time.
The Lodge offers just five cottages, each spread out with enough distance between them to afford privacy, though the unsaid aspiration of a small key lodge is that guests mingle and get to know each other. Each cottage has a stone façade and have a few steps up that lead into a wide room with large picture windows and an ensuite bathroom. A table to one side and a cupboard on the other, towards the window are the beds that allow for a lot of space in the centre and ensure views from the bed. There are several plug points an indication that photographers are welcome.
Guests are mostly served together in the large dining room, though you can request for a private dining or service in your room. Cuisine is the robust Rajasthani Cuisine with a smattering for comfort foods for those off-days. As the pricing for Bera Safari Lodge is on full board, this allows for a lot of variation in every menu. The cooking style reflects the regional flavours of rural Rajasthan that use several variants for any scarcity. For example, the scarcity of water enables them to use milk, buttermilk and clarified butter in their cooking. While a lot of dried legumes are used for vegetarian fares, chick-pea flour is a key ingredient in many preparations, bajra, corn are staple grains. Chutneys and curries are made from locally available ingredients like raw turmeric, coriander, and other spices.
The excursions and activities from Bera Safari Lodge include Jawai Bandh Safaris for birding and wildlife, village visits and interactions with Rabari community whose origins are as interesting as their life styles and cycling excursions. The safaris are typically early morning and afternoon in Jeeps organised by the lodge, always accompanied by an experienced naturalist. Bera is ideal for birding especially looking out for species like the Green Munia and Flamingos. Photography and Filming groups are welcome as besides the Leopard and the Rabari Community, the Jawai Bandh area is rich in migratory and resident bird species.
A wildlife getaway with a bit of culture and a lot of walking and driving, Bera would be perfect for those who love animals and are keen birders or photographers. Bera is suited for all with a reasonable fitness level. What is essential is a love for nature. Bera welcomes young adults to explore the landscape, understand the basic principle behind conservation and what we can do to preserve and protect animals in the wild.
Open all year
Bera Safari Lodge’s philosophy and conservation is contained in its logo and promise of upholding the harmony of ‘leopards and shepherds’.
Protecting the Jawai landscape from encroachment, keeping the community engaged with issues of the region and ensuring that the Leopard continue to thrive are priority for Shatrunjay as he continues to run the lodge. Bera and Jawai seem to have made it to everyone’s bucket list now, thanks to the unprecedented publicity this region has got for a few years. The truth is that the much talked about ‘hero’ of the destination is the Indian Leopard (Panthera pardes linnaeus) and most people forget the most important ‘supporting’ cast are the Rabari villagers. The reason the now famous leopards of Bera and Jawai move unfettered and unfazed over the bald rocks of granite of Jawai smoothened over time and carved into nooks and niches by the elements, lies in the easy harmony that exists between the Rabari people and the Leopards.
And now it is absolutely essential to protect the habitat of the leopards of Jawai and their privacy and the answer is to stay with people who work towards reinforcing this tentative relationship, for it is the local community, the landscape and the leopards who have created ‘tourism opportunities’ and not the other way around as many would presumptuously believe.
by pjacksonmbe on 12/02/2022
This is a small, well run, beautifully quiet set of lodges that provide leopard trekking trips. The rooms are large, clean and comfortable, the staff are extremely friendly, helpful and...
by Extraordinary688250 on 11/17/2022
Very basic hotel but who needs luxery if you can see leopards. Rooms are very clean and everything you need is available. Very friendly staff - not perfectly english spoken, but very enthousiastic...
by joshuas47 on 11/13/2022
We had a fantastic time staying in Bera, the staff were brilliant and always catered to our needs. The food was amazing. Ruturaj and his wife were really nice, his knowledge is brilliant and you can...