Come October, the high-on-design Aramness Gir will introduce you to ‘kothi’ life in the forests of Gujarat, the only destination in the world where you can see an Asiatic Lion in the wild.
Wildlife tourism has gained currency in the last few years, and especially so in the pandemic with travel-lusters increasingly heading for the great outdoors. New lodges are coming up in various reserves and it bodes well for the traveller who wants to get a taste of the wild but doesn’t want to compromise on the luxury of dedicated flights in and out, a post-safari single malt, a plunge in a private pool, or farm-to-fork fare that brings in the local flavours without taking him or her out of a certain comfort zone.
Aramness Gir, in the midst of a protected teak forest on the periphery of the Sasan Gir National Park, is one of the first boutique lodges of its kind in the region. Soon to open in mid-October, it plans on setting the bar high with its Gujarat inspired, design-led aesthetic, its dedication to conservation, and commitment to delivering world-class gracious hospitality.
The design is inspired by the village of Haripur nearby, with its central cobble-stone streets lined with spacious kothis, each with its own open-to-sky courtyard. Apparently, owner Jimmy Patel has brought in international firms Fox Browne Creative and Nicholas Plewman Architects to create this immersive wilderness experience, which embodies his passion for the forest and love for Gujarat.
Once Aramness opens, it will be interesting to explore the interiors of the 18 private village-style double-storeyed kothis, take their cue from the charmingly informal arrangement of the local Gujarati village homes, whose buildings develop spontaneously with time. In keeping with this theme, the designers have relied on the honesty of materials, and the sophistication of simplicity, to create a culturally relevant design that infuses local craftsmanship throughout. From the pattern on the large sandstone and steel jaali screens (which are said to echo the perforations of the dried leaf of the local sal tree) to striking walls plastered with Kutchhi lipan inlaid with tiny mirrors to the appliqued scatter cushions and hand-beaten brass tables, everything is handcrafted by local artisans.
There will be 15 standalone single bedroom kothis and three standalone double bedrooms kothis and shared dining space. Where the lodge promises a difference from other resorts in Gir is the private pool in each kothi, built to reflect the design of the famous step wells of Gujarat, and a dedicated butler to discreetly cater to all your needs. Each kothi will also boast a shaded courtyard and an upper deck verandah, both great places to lounge like a lion when you aren’t out on safari, watching the majestic beasts loll and yawn in the gentle Gujarat sunshine, we imagine.
The experiences that Aramness envisages are quite unique too. Dining in multiple spaces, from the intimate to the expansive, for one. Expect traditional Gujarati delicacies and not only vegetarian ones in the Haveli. Imagine village-style dinners in the mango orchard, live jungle barbecues under the stars, organic farm-to-fork meals in the Garden Pavillion, and coffee or drinks in the stylish Pool House. And then, of course, game drives into the park to view the Asiatic Lion with an Aramness naturalist, jungle walks in the teak forest, visiting a home belonging to a family from the semi-nomadic Maldhari tribe, relaxing in the spa, and fun for kids at Aramness Playscape… until it’s time to board your private charter home.