The camel is an icon of Rajasthan. For centuries before tractors, buses and cars penetrated the interior countryside, camels and camel carts were the main mode of transport for both people and goods, and as draft animals for crop cultivation (like bulls). For the average Rajasthani family, the relationship with their camel(s) was rather like that of an earning family member.
Since the late 1980s, camel carts are becoming an increasingly rare sight, especially in eastern Rajasthan where Savista is located. Jaipur, the state’s capital city, has seen enormous growth and its hinterland has witnessed a huge rise in land prices, which means that rural folk are selling off their land as never before. And one of the first things they buy are cars and motorbikes.
Raju the camel and Gopal the camel cart man, are among the last vestiges of a bygone era in the village of Sanjharia where Savista is situated. Gopal was financed by the owners of Savista to create a camel cart service, so that he could supplement his agricultural income by hiring himself out with his cart to people wishing to transport farm produce to the market, fetch construction material, earth, manure or firewood, or just about anything. He also hires himself out to us to give rides to our guests.
A camel cart ride needs to be booked in advance (by at least a few hours). Typically, guests could spend between two and four hours wandering though the countryside along the now-dry bed of the Sujalam river that once flowed by Savista and through farms and hamlets. They also have the choice of visiting the homes of agriculturists known to Gopal who feel delighted when the “world” comes to them, so to say, and are eager to offer chai, display their babies, kitchens, granaries, agricultural equipment and livestock, and be photographed and shown the results on the digicam! The camel cart ride is a totally non-touristy way to savour the Rajasthan countryside, and is one of the unique experiences that Savista offers.