A seven-seater caravan carrying a family of four from Britain cruises along on a single lane between Orchha and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. The rain has left a cool shroud of moisture in the air.
“We love this caravan that we have rented from a transporter in Delhi,” says Dominic Jones, a software consultant from Sussex who is touring India with his wife and two children. The family, which intends to stay till October-end, lives and sleeps in the van. The caravan will ferry them around New Delhi, too, during the Commonwealth Games, Jones says.
Welcome to the world of “gypsy caravaners” — a new breed of niche tourists who prefer the comfort of caravans or mini-homes on wheels while on holidays. The tribe is increasing its footfall in India, with caravan tourism slowly becoming a viable option. “We cater to a niche clientele of foreign tourists, showbiz personalities and individual corporate entities,” says Raju Babbar, owner of Babbaraju Mobile, one of the few auto firms in India that specialises in Western-style caravans. His firm has bagged an order from the Madhya Pradesh government that wants to promote caravan tourism in major destinations.
The caravans, built on a base of ‘Force Motor Tempo Traveller’ — a light commercial vehicle — are available in five categories: the family caravan, friends’ caravan, honeymoon caravan, individual caravan and the conference caravan. In May, Babbar unveiled his 10-seater ‘Conference on Wheel’ caravan, designed like a boardroom that can host corporate meetings on the move.
The government, under its caravan tourism policy, proposes to build modern caravan parks under public-private partnerships to park tourism campers and motor homes. Currently, travel transporters in Delhi are plying 700 multi-seater utility caravans called ‘Travelizzm’ that will be used for the Commonwealth Games.
The vehicles are priced between R 17 lakh and R 27 lakh.