A land as old as evolution, the story of tolerance and respect in the leopard country of Rajasthan is one that must be experienced firsthand
Bera is a land where notions are uncommon and experiences extraordinary. For ages, leopards have owned the caves here and outlived time.
Jawai Bandh was conferred as a leopard conservation zone in 2003. With humans sharing space with leopards, this place epitomises the concept of co-existence in this era of conflict. People here feel an otherworldly connection with leopards, they see these animals as an incarnation of the goddess Ambe Mata.
An outcrop of the Aravallis, one of the oldest mountain ranges, the place adopts its name from River Jawai, which has been the lifeline of the region. Bera is a true paradise of the leopards of Rajasthan.
Plan Your Trip
Udaipur (145km; almost 4 hrs) is the nearest airport. One can also travel via Jodhpur (170km) with decent flight connectivity from all over India.
Falna (35km) and Jawai Bandh (18km) are the nearest railway stations.
One can travel from Jodhpur (160km), Udaipur (130km) and Jaipur (395km).
best time to visit
Every season dresses Bera in a different hue, and this regal landscape reveals its diversity to its seekers throughout the year. The change in the seasons does affect sightings, but the regularity of it is not drastically compromised. Early and later winters are most advisable while monsoon is the least recommended.
- November to February: Winter bites hard here, with temperatures plummeting down to 1-2°C.
- March to June: Summer dazzles with an intensity, and temperatures soar up to 42°C.
- July to September: Bera receives moderate rainfall. A touch of rain is enough to metamorphose the entire landscape.
Bera is as old as evolution itself. It is believed that this distinct landscape was crafted by lava millions of years ago. Sixty years back, when Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur built the Jawai Dam, the place received a permanent water source, which later became crucial in supporting the wildlife that thrives around it.
There are over 300 solitary hills scattered in this landscape, dotted with temples that lean against boulders, which hide an apex predator who has walked the circle of time.
Bera offers you everything from the rustic to the royal. The quotient of luxury may vary, but what remains constant is the experience of being surrounded by these ancient caves, where the apex predator roams freely.
The bracket of your stay on the higher side can be at ₹25,000 per night at Bera Safari Lodge for a double bedroom including two safaris and three meals in a day. One can also avail homestays like the Jawai Safari Lodge, that is priced at around ₹5000 per night for a double bedded room, including meals. Safaris here can be booked separately.
If one wants to experience royalty, you may choose to stay at Castle Bera, with prices starting around ₹10,000 for a deluxe suite. Here heritage thrives in the ambit of modernism. This property belongs to the direct lineage of Maharana Pratap, a great warrior and a legend in Indian history.
The Jawai-Bera landscape is home to the elusive Indian Leopard.
They are one of the most adaptable predator species, making Bera the poster card for human-animal co-existence.
The Rabaris believe that leopards are a depiction of god.
Even the moderate rainfall that Bera receives transforms the landscape, covering it with a hue of green.
Leopards are the not only animals to roam these rocks, families of langurs are also found in plenty
Leopards tend to move during early morning and late evening hours, affording opportunities for some stunning silhouette shots.
Bera's landscape is perfect for shooting at dusk, the golden light pouring on these massive outcrops like lava.
A Nilgai grazes on the banks of the the Jawai river, the lifeline of the region.
White-breasted Kingfishers are a regular sight at the Jawai Dam, along with other regional and migratory birds.
The landscape of Bera is like no other, and there is no better way to explore the leopard country than on a jeep.
The Jawai Dam was built around 60 years back by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur. Photograph courtesy Wikimedia user Namita07, under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
The Jawai-Bera region is home to the nomadic Rabari tribe who depend on their herds of goats and sheep to survive. Photograph: Avisek Mitra
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Bera wows you with its unassuming wildlife. While you are out for your safari, vying for the rosettes, you may find a Bengal Monitor Lizard lazing around or a Black-shouldered Kite gliding over the field, along with a host of other birdlife that thrive in the countryside.
Visit the nearby temples of Devgiri and Perwa. It is not just about divinity, but the thrill of knowing that you are walking in the footsteps of leopards.
Stop and strike a conversation with the local Rabaris – the herdsmen who give the place its distinct look and character. Learning the stories behind their welcoming smiles will bring about a whole new perspective about Jawai.
Winters are a great time to spot migrant birds in the Jawai dam area. From flamingos to pelicans migrant birds congregate here in impressive numbers.
Bera comes alive at night. While darkness and silence blanket the village, the night sky is decorated with a million stars. Take a tour with a trained naturalist and be amazed by the thriving wildlife that moves around here undisturbed. From civets to Jungle and Rusty Spotted Cats, varieties of night birds like nightjars and owls, and if you are lucky, you may even stumble upon leopards.
Good to know
- Safaris can be booked through your place of stay, either as a part of your stay package or separately.
- The safari timings are not too stringent. It depends on the leopard movement, which usually happens during early morning and late evening. However, in nature, be prepared for aberrations.
- Mobile connectivity is poor. Airtel has a weak signal in many places, while Vodafone will not work in most. Jio and BSNL are the two networks you can rely on.
- Be sure to try the local cuisine. However, if you are staying in a homestay, you might want to be mindful of the spice levels if you are not used to handling spicy food.
- You won’t be able to find restaurants or standalone food joints, except for the odd tea stall.
What to pack
- First and foremost, carry something that will help capture your experiences at Bera. Be it your camera gear or a diary where you write in, it is essential to carry a tool that will arrest some of the finer cherished moments from your visit.
- The right kind of clothing is important and it varies with seasons. Carry thermals and multiple layers for the winter months, and pack light, earth-coloured clothes for the summer.
- Make sure to carry your medical kit as medicines may not always be readily available.
- Carry a pair of binoculars, because what is lurking in between the distant crevices might be exactly what you are looking for.
- Torches can be handy as Bera has a lot to reveal at night.
- Keep a bird guide handy. For the avifauna is diverse here, and you may require a comprehensive guide to help you identify species.
- Every rock formation is unique and many of them host leopards. Try to spread out your visit and explore these different rocky outcrops.
- A telephoto lens of focal length 600mm might be required as sometimes the sightings are quite far. A wide-angle lens will also prove handy; after all Bera’s landscape is its hero.
- A tripod/monopod/bean bag is a must as hand holding the long lenses for a long time will be challenging. Also, the sightings often take place during times when the light is low. A good steady setup will be required for sharp pictures.
- The heat wave during summers or the winter haze can make it difficult for the camera to achieve perfect focus. Distance and lights are the other variables that may make pictures a bit soft.
- A teleconverter is not advisable as the extra piece of glass will render softer images, further amplified by the ambient variables (light, distance, location of the sightings, etc).
- Save a day for spending some time in Udaipur. Experience royalty at its best.
- One can also visit Ranakpur which is just 41km from Jawai Bandh. Situated in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range, the place is well known for its Jain Temple Complex. The white marble temple has 1444 pillars with detailed carvings, giving you a glimpse of our rich erstwhile years.
- Kumbhalgarh, situated around 90km from Jawai, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The land of fables with its whispering history should be definitely on your bucket list.
Budget per person
- A two-night stay along with a minimum of four safaris would be required to get a flavour of what Bera has to offer.
- If you are a solo traveller at Bera Safari Lodge, then the budget would be around ₹38,000 for a two-night stay (inclusive of all meals) and four safaris. For two people sharing a room, the budget per person would be around ₹25,000 for the same two-night stay plus four safaris package.
- If one wishes to stay in a homestay (Jawai Leopard Safari Lodge), budget for a solo traveller would be around ₹26,000 for a two-night stay (inclusive of all meals) and four safaris. The same on a double sharing basis will cost around ₹15,000 per person.
- For photographers, it is recommended to have three people or a maximum of four (overcrowding won't help your cause) along with you on the jeep safari to make it more pocket friendly.