This area of India has a small population of leopards and the hotel offers leopard safaris at dawn and dusk when they are most likely to be seen. In the past they would have been hunted and were almost wiped out altogether but a joint effort between the hotel and local villagers has brought the population back to a sustainable number – and is growing year on year.
The village is also a religious centre with a reputed 350 temples! Overlooking the town on a granite tor stands an elephant statue protecting the people below. A climb of 761 man made steps is de-rigour for anyone staying at the Rawla.
Town walks, temple visits and another safari to see the leopard were on the agenda for the day off. Those wanting a less strenuous time relaxed by the pool or on their veranda outside their room. The piece-de-resistance of the visit to Narlai was the Step Well dinner. Transported to the step well some 2kms away on ox carts after the sun had set meant a magical arrival where more than 1000 oil lamps had been lit round the well. A wizened musician singing with the aid of an early style three string sitar provided the background entertainment while the guest were offered Indian starters and then a thali meal accompanied by, of course, a decent gin and tonic.
With wood fires crackling in fire pits and staff dressed in traditional clothing we were transported back to a magical era of Indian culture.