The Bordi Jaisalmer is a luxury camp situated amid the dunes of the Thar desert. We discover this hidden gem on a cover shoot with Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor, who is all set for the release of his film Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar this month.
Text & Produced by Aindrila Mitra
Styled by Abhilasha Devnani
Makeup by Vikram Banatkar
Photographed by Nayantara Parikh
Assisted by Navya Channana
Hair by Team Hakim’s Aalim
The last time I was in Jaisalmer, I was a teenager. The Thar left an indelible dent on my mind back then. The city has some of the most beautiful heritage structures (I can never get over the exquisiteness of Patwon ki Haveli), but there’s nothing that compares to the mightiness and the barrenness of the desert. The dunes have stories of their own, ones that involve romantic sojourns, stargazing nights, adrenaline-pumping 4×4 rides, and hours spent gawking at the wilderness. So, when we decided to shoot our cover star, Bollywood star Arjun Kapoor, in Jaisalmer, whisking him away to the glamping retreat of The Bordi Jaisalmer was a natural choice. Amid the dunes of the Great Indian Desert, we were going to #DiscovertheUndiscovered. As Kapoor succinctly puts it, “There’s a nice nuance to Jaisalmer. There’s so much silence, vastness, and yet [it is] so compact. [Unlike Jaipur and Udaipur] Jaisalmer is a bit mellow, and I like that energy.”
After a 13-hour-long overnight drive with the photographer, we catch the first rays of the morning sun as we cross the lesser-explored Khuri to reach the dunes where The Bordi Jaisalmer is located. The owner, Vikram Singh Bhati, hails from the royal family of Jaisalmer. “The minute we saw this space, we knew we had to do this luxury camp. The Bordi is built on 40 acres of private dunes,” he tells me. In fact, this is one of Jaisalmer’s first luxury glamping retreats. “There were more mud huts earlier,” Bhati reveals. Located in the Desert National Park (DNP), the small hamlet of Khuri boasts some of the most beautiful dunes in Jaisalmer. As a result, The Bordi is a dreamy retreat for nature-lovers and birdwatchers. “You can spot the Great Indian Bustard as DNP is its breeding ground,” Bhati adds. For the uninitiated, the Great Indian Bustard is among the heaviest of flying birds and a critically endangered species. The bird is often an indicator of the health of grasslands, and Rajasthan houses more than 50 per cent of the country’s total bustard population. So integral is the species to the region that it has inspired the aesthetic of The Bordi’s main dining area, with evocative motifs adorning the ceiling.
Launched in 2019, this little-known camp has 13 luxury Swiss tents, each made in a customised circular design occupying approximately 84 square metres. They have all the amenities you might need but wear a minimalist aesthetic. Each tent offers undisturbed 360° views of the dunes, courtesy of 12 windows. As I sink into the most comfortable bed I’ve used in a while, with the desert-scape of Thar as my view, a sense of contentment permeates my world. I gaze at the sandy horizon that seems to underline the incredible natural beauty of our country, which a hidden gem like The Bordi taps into.
Every evening, there are cultural performances by local musicians and artistes. Bhati is candid, “We want to grow along with the local community. Most of our decor, including the woven cots in each tent, are handmade by local artisans. Besides providing a desert-and-wildlife experience, The Bordi gives you a glimpse of our local art and handicrafts.” Before a delectable dinner of junglee maas (a signature meat curry), I am mesmerised by a folk performance around the bonfire. “Salim Khan [the main singer] has performed across 45 countries, and the group has even appeared in Coke Studio and opened Jaipur Literature Festival [in 2020],” says Adhiraj Singh Naruka, the manager of the luxury camp. As Khan belts out Manganiyar songs and other popular folk tunes against a clear starry sky, the atmosphere turns magical. It’s the kind of experience that encapsulates ‘tourism with a purpose’—we are able to support the local community while staying at one of the most luxurious glamping retreats in Jaisalmer. It is exactly the kind of trip we endorse in our campaign #DiscovertheUndiscovered.
Getting There & Stay
There are direct flights between Delhi and Jaisalmer. Designed by architect Rahul Subberwal from The Architectural Studio, New Delhi, The Bordi Jaisalmer is located in Khuri, not very far from the Jaisalmer airport. Alternatively, you can undertake a scenic road trip from Delhi, which takes approximately 13-14 hours. INR 25,000, including taxes, per night (with all meals, camel safari, dune bashing or night safari, and a cultural evening)
The Bordi offers the following experiences that can be customised for guests:
- Private safari (including camel and jeep safari)
- Dune bashing
- Dinner in the dunes
- Barbecue on request Stargazing