The final place on our Rajasthan adventure was an eco lodge nestled just outside of Nawalgarh, in the Sheekhalwati region. After 3 weeks of being almost constantly on the move we were looking forward to some relaxation before we continue up to Himachal Pradesh for our Himalayan hike.
The lodge, Apani Dhani, was truly stunning, with its own organic vegetable garden and traditional style thatched mud cottages. We took a woodwork class with Ramesh – wow, so much concentration is needed!!- we definitely have a new found appreciation for all of the hand carved havelis we’ve seen! Ramesh told us about his journey as he went against the flow, setting up an environmentally friendly tourist home in India. When it was first established, over 30 years ago, Apani Dhani was way ahead of its time, even in terms of Western eco-tourism. Ramesh has hosted talks and conferences based on eco-tourism around the globe.
We also had a cooking class with Ramesh’s son, learning how to make North Indian dhal, chapatti (the last part is direct on a naked flame!), and delicious creamy cardamon rice pudding. Living out in the desert, they really know how to make delicious food out of seemingly nothing. 80% of the food at Apani Dhani comes directly out from their own farm, and they have an impressive commitment to sustainability – growing, drying, and storing enough for the whole year of their own home grown organic lentils, pulses, nuts, chickpeas, sesame seeds and more, even making their own flour from millet and their own cooking oils. They have a cow for milk, butter, ghee, and curd, and most of their electricity comes from solar panels.
The space was perfect for us to unwind from all of the city hopping we’d been doing. A beautiful meditation space and even a yoga shalla (although at the time it was full of drying beans). If I ever wish to run a Rajasthani yoga retreat in the future, I sure know where to go to…
A 6 hour sleeper train took us back to Delhi, arriving late at night back where we started in India 3 weeks ago.
And now it’s time to sign out as we disappear off the internet for the next 3 weeks or so… We’re heading off on a 12 day trek (the longest either of us have undergone) up into the Kulu Valley, beyond Manali, under the peaks of the Pir Panjab.
Watch this space…
For now at least, Roo & Rich out.