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High-end 'social tourism' boosts appeal of India's desert state

Luxury retreats allow visitors to engage with locals in rugged Rajasthan

A desert excursion near Jamba, the village in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan where the Dera Dune Retreat is located. (Courtesy of The Clement Retreats)

JAIPUR, India -- As a golden-hued sunset casts its last rays over the foothills of Rajasthan's Aravali Hills my camel walks steadily toward Gadoli, where there will be a private reenactment of the Tulsi Vivah, the Hindu ceremony of song and dance that celebrates the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the wedding season.

We are 70 km east of Jaipur in the Dausa district, home of the Dera Village resort run by The Clement Retreats, a New Delhi-based company that offers tourists an immersive travel experience in Rajasthan's less-visited interior. Instead of a typical tourist menu of Rajasthani lake and palace visits and city hotel stays, this luxury travel experience connects tourists with the lifestyle of local tribes and aims to contribute to development in this rugged region.

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