Aman-i-Khás(A combination of two words aman, meaning 'peace', in Sanskrit, and khás, meaning 'special' in Urdu and Hindi) is an exclusive wilderness camp set in the rugged hills of Rajasthan on the outskirts of Ranthambhore National Park.
The Spa Tent consists of two treatment areas featuring twin massage tables. Spa treatments include massage, scrubs and traditional henna art using local ingredients, herbs and spices.
Fireplace: Situated at the upper level of the camp this outdoor spot with its nightly log fires in many ways serves as an informal lounge and dining area. It is the ideal location for a cool drink during the day as well as being the pre- and post- excursion gathering point.
'Step-well'(Pool): Refreshing dips can be taken in a 'step-well' set within the camp. The forested area circles a sunning terrace which in turn in surrounds a square pool which is modeled on the ancient step wells that are traditonal to the area.
The camp lies on a gentle slope against a backdrop of dry, brushwood hills. It is set up for only seven months of the year and is packed away in the hot summer. When set up, the camp blends in unobtrusively with the native vegetation of tall grasses, scrub and trees.
On arrival, guests are taken by four-wheel-drive vehicle to a walled courtyard. The entrance to the camp is via a pathway that leads through high walls, opening onto views of the rocky Aravalli hills that undulate through Ranthambhore National Park.
There are 10 accommodation tents. Each echoes a rich Moghul style with 'rooms' separated by cotton drapes. The tents, set on a concrete plinth, measure 108sq m, and are identical in design. They are constructed of canvas and supported by a steel frame with the interior walls and ceilings draped in fine cotton. Entry to each tent is through a screened area that contains an armchair and a dining table with chairs. Beyond this is the centre of the tent that ascends to a soaring six-metre canopy under which lies an oversized daybed, ideal for lounging.
Opening from the central area are three further sections for sleeping, bathing and dressing. The 'bedroom' area is fitted with a king-size bed flanked by twin writing desks. The bathing area includes a shower, soaking tub and separate toilet whilst the dressing area contains the cupboards with hanging space and twin vanities. Cotton screens provide complete privacy. Furniture is minimal and unobtrusive, mimicking the travelling camps of an earlier time. Each tent is air-conditioned and there is also a ceiling fan and a cooler chest for drinks.
Camp stays are inclusive of a minimum of two nights accommodation. A US$75++ board charge (food and beverage), per person per day, applies.
Food and Dining
There are three additional tents – making 13 in all. The Dining Tent at Aman-i-Khás is furnished with tables and chairs. Meals are often served in different locations throughout the grounds and dinner is most often concluded around a roaring outdoor fire that serves as a focal point in colder winters. The camp serves Indian cuisine and a range of Western dishes. Freshness of produce is ensured as most of the vegetables and herbs are grown in the camp’s organic vegetable garden.
Lounge and Library: Located adjacent to the dining tent is the Lounge Tent. This is furnished with banquettes, reading tables and chairs. The library provides a wide collection of coffee-table books on the national park, the tigers, the history and culture of Rajasthan, as well as on other aspects of Indian culture and history. Also on offer is a selection of novels, magazines and board games. A small range of local handicrafts, fabrics, CDs, CD players and sundries are available for purchase.
The experience at Aman-i-Khás is focused on viewing wildlife, in particular, the tiger. Ranthambhore National Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1955. It was once the hunting grounds of the Maharajah of Jaipur. Following the launch of Project Tiger and concerted conservation efforts to save the big cats, the tiger population is now more visible and stable.
The core of the park, which measures around 400 square kilometres, presents the best opportunity for spotting tigers, leopards, jungle cats, caracal, hyenas and sloth bears. Interestingly, tiger sightings at Ranthambhore are among the best anywhere.
Chital and sambar deer, antelopes and gazelles can also be seen roaming the savannah whilst the lakes and waterholes are home to the Indian marsh crocodile. Bird life, both resident and migratory, is prolific and over 350 species have been sighted within the park. Aman-i-Khás has its own bird hide in camp, overlooking a pond and wetlands area where many species can be sighted at guests’ leisure.
The best time to view game is in the early morning and late afternoon. The camp operates four-wheel drive, open-top vehicles customised for safari viewing. The morning starts with tea or coffee at 6:00am with the vehicles leaving camp around 6.30am. Excursions last around three-and-a-half-hours and take place twice a day. Trips are led by Ranthambhore National Park-appointed guides who take guests on a range of routes through the park. The morning excursion returns at about 10:00am when breakfast is served. The afternoon excursions depart from the camp at around 3:00pm and generally return at 6.30pm. Excursion times are set by the park authorities as only a limited number of vehicles are permitted inside the park core at any one time.