In the rains, Kalakho is a study in green. It stands across golden fields, boasting of lakes bursting at the seams with the monsoon’s bounty, a picture of serene beauty. It lies amid the Aravalli Hills, beckoning tantalisingly as you drive on a dirt road zigzagging past mustard fields, a hidden getaway in the true sense of the word. It escapes the attention that so easily comes Rajasthan’s way and makes no appearance in the tourist itinerary. Perhaps that’s what makes it such a wonderful place for a holiday.

Kalakho lies just a few kilometres off the least-explored stretch of the Golden Triangle that connects the historic capitals of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Go there on a journey of discovery and you will not be disappointed.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

You’ll rarely find names like Abhaneri, Madhogarh, Bhangarh and Bhandarej in travel guides, or even on most maps, ibut these are all places that can be easily accessed from Kalakho, spread along NH11 between Bharatpur and Dausa. The Dera Lakeview Retreat, which is one stay option in Kalakho, lies deep in the interiors of the Aravallis, in Kalakho Ambari Village in Sikrai Tehsil (Dausa District), 12 km from Sikandra on NH11 and 90 km short of Jaipur.

Sanjoy Ghosh
Harshata Mata Temple, Kalakho
Harshata Mata Temple, Kalakho

There is a lot to discover around Kalakho and a number of activities are on offer, ranging from safaris to camel cart rides. The Dera Retreat offers a different experience from Umaid Lake Palace, which is set next to a lake, albeit closer to NH11. You could spend a night in each place to enjoy their unique charms.

Explore Kalakho

Kalakho is set amid fields against the backdrop of hills. This woodsy part of the Aravallis is the perfect playground for birdwatchers. Let your love for birds lead you right up the hills, to old forts and to the pinnacles offering panoramic views. Those with a yen for solitude should stride forth with a packed lunch.

Chand Baoli

Drive straight past the busy Sikandra crossroads and on to the village of Gular, then take a right to Abhaneri. The 8thcentury baoli (stepwell) here is enormous. Built by Raja Chand, a Nikumbha Rajput of the Chamana dynasty, it is close to 65 ft deep. To reach the water, you have to go down 3,500 narrow and steep steps, punctuated by 13 landings.

Today, the stepwell is under the aegis of the Archaeo logical Survey of India (ASI), which has managed to make this age old monument look like a thing of the future, with their heavy metal frames and cordons keeping people away from the carved stone idols here.

Gireesh GV
Chand Baoli, Kalakho
Chand Baoli, Kalakho

Harshata Mata Temple

Just across from the well is the Harshata Mata shrine, dedicated to the Goddess Parvati. Built in the 7thcentury Mahameru style, it bears a surprisingly strong resemblance to the intricate carvings and ornate arcades seen at the temples of Khajuraho.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

At Dera Village Retreat (Faridabad Tel: 0129-4098000; Tariff: 12,000, with meals), you can stay in one of the 18 airconditioned deras, each with private facilities. There is hot as well as cold water in the huts, a restaurant which serves excellent food, a host of indoor games, local musicians to serenade guests, drives, rides and treks and many more activities to choose from.

In Dausa Tehsil, Umaid Lake Palace (Tel: 01427-203166, Cell: 09799936888; Tariff: 5,000-9,500), located in another village also called Kalakho (20 km), is not a heritage place but lies near a lake and offers safaris and activities.

Food options are limited in Kalakho. It is a good idea to eat at your hotel.

When to go October to March is the best time to visit Kalakho, but it is in the monsoon that the lake becomes full. The green surroundings then are quite scenic and perfect for a romantic getaway Location This Meena tribal village is in east Rajasthan, just off the Agra-Jaipur Highway