We are opening our homestays in phases, syncing with the state government’s announcements and guidelines. Lotwara Heritage Homestay in Dausa Distt of Rajasthan has re-opened and we thought to visit it personally to ensure the safety and hygiene arrangements. Sharing our experience of the journey and the homestay.
The mere anticipation of traveling after almost four months was exhilarating. We knew the importance of a careful travel in these times. The preparation started with packing our food for the journey. It feels safe to carry our own water and food rather than buying at roadside dhabas.
We started the drive early in the morning. There were long discussions on topics starting from politics to Covid to travel to business; we seemed to discuss almost everything on earth. Our first break was somewhere on the Delhi-Agra expressway around 9:00 am. The car roof became table and the sandwiches, cutlet and tea was laid out nicely. After a hearty breakfast we resumed our journey and the discussions and the music continued.
The moment we left the expressway and took the road to Mathura, the scenario completely changed . The roads were busy, shops were wide open and people were sitting and chatting like they don’t know what Covid is all about. We had to resist the temptation to stop and buy some fruits or street food that looked delicious.
We took our second break near Bharatpur, near an old house with huge open space in the front. Aloo Puri was served in disposable plates along with tea. We never enjoyed Mangoes like this before. We reached Lotwara Heritage Homestay around 1:00 pm. It just took us 6 hrs to reach including stopovers.
The lovely sight of dancing peacocks welcomed us to the village Lotwara. Our host Thakur Lokendra Singh was waiting to welcome his first guests after the outbreak of Covid. It was interesting to see the locally made foot operated sanitizer dispenser. It was a no-touch technique as were all other formalities. We chose to pick our luggage ourselves for obvious reasons. The staff maintained the required distance. We were the only guests in the homestay and that was a great relief.
Since we reached around lunch time, it was ready and was served on ensuite dining table. Thakur Lokendra Singh himself was there to oversee the arrangements. We enjoyed the Rajasthani home-cooked meal that included Gatta Curry, Moong Dal, Rice, Roti, Raita and Salad.
Our room was sparkling clean, fresh and sanitized. I could actually smell the disinfectant in my towel. Relieved and satisfied, we took a quick nap. Evening was spent on the terrace with a glass of beer and snacks. It was the full moon night and the clouds were hovering over the moon creating interesting patterns. We quietly watched the play of the moon and the clouds till we got a call from the kitchen to have dinner.
We woke up early to the screams of a peacock. A cool breeze of fresh air brushed my hair as I peeped out of the window. It was amazing to see a peacock dancing on the terrace of the house next door. No wonder Lotwara is also called ‘The Peacock Village’. They are everywhere.
It was a perfect morning to roam around and soak in the beauty of the place. I took a quick village tour and was glad to know that there is still a place where there are not a single mark of Covid and in spite of that people are keeping a social distance. Thanks to Thakur Lokendra Singh, who also happened to be the youngest sarpanch of India, has spread the awareness among the villagers.
This Heritage Homestay is home to the royal family of Lotwara who have opened their doors to the tourists. They take pride in giving guests the cultural experience of Rajasthan. You can enjoy authentic Rajasthani cuisine with the royal head of Lotwara, Thakur Giriraj Singh. They have farms and livestock to ensure fresh supply of vegetables and milk products like curd, butter and ghee. There are few fruit trees also in the garden. It was fun to pick fresh and juicy Jamun. We got some packed for our home too.
I am so glad we took this trip. It made me realize that it is possible to travel while taking all necessary precautions and keeping a safe distance. We cannot predict when this pandemic will end but we can definitely learn to live and travel with it. I am also glad to see that our hosts are fully equipped and ready to welcome the guests.