In addition to facilitating visits to monuments and temples, Savista offers its guests the opportunity of authentic glimpses into both the folk and classical performance culture of the region.
The Savista amphitheatre occasionally hosts folk music and dance performances by local travelling artistes. These include bhopas, hereditary story-tellers who use music to tell stories of Rajasthan’s folk heroes Pabuji and Tejaji, with the help of traditional handpainted cloth scrolls (pichwais) depicting these heroes’ lives.
The music room at Savista has a collection of Indian musical instruments such as the veena, sitar, harmonium, and tanpura, and CDs (Indian classical, semi-classical and folk), as well as select western instruments such as the violin, guitar, electronic keyboard, and harmonica. There is also a rich collection of books on the classical and folk music traditions of Northern and Southern India.
Upon request, Savista offers individual cooking lessons. Extended cooking workshops can also be arranged for small groups, that explore the theory and practice of India’s culinary traditions, with accompanying discussions on the Ayurvedic principles of traditional diets, and study visits to vegetable and spice markets.
Savista also responds to requests for other interest-based workshops/retreats, such as India’s textile traditions, embroidery, yoga or music.
Savista is located in Sanjharia village, and is within walking distance of the larger villages of Fatehpura, Himmatpura and Begas. Guests can take guided tours through these villages, where they have the opportunity to meet with local people, visit homes, observe women churn butter or tend to livestock, and interact with farmers carrying out seasonal agricultural operations.
Heritage Tours – Forts, Palaces, Religious Shrines
Forty-five minutes away by car from Savista is the Amber Fort, a fixture in every tourist’s itinerary. The erstwhile capital of the Kacchawas (where visitors can also take elephant rides), it is one of the finest examples of medieval Rajput architecture. Dramatically poised over a hill-top, Amber is flanked by the smaller forts of Nahargarh and Jaigarh, also worth a visit. En route to Amber is the charming Jal Mahal, a royal palace located in the center of a lake.
Jaipur’s ancient walled “pink” city with its bazaars brimming with colours, handicrafts, jewellery and people is less than an hour away from Savista. Its key sights include the City Palace, Hawa Mahal (the Palace of Winds, a five-storied viewing gallery for the royal ladies), the Jantar Mantar observatory, the cenotaphs of Gaitore, the temples at the perennial springs of Galta, and the Sisodia Rani Bagh (a royal pleasure garden built for a queen, with interesting architectural detail).
For guests with an interest in different religious beliefs and practices, visits can be arranged to the village Hanuman temple (at neighbouring Bad-ke-Balaji), or the grand 18th century Krishna temple in Jaipur city (both Hindu shrines), or the 13th century Muslim Sufi shrine (dargah) of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer (130 km from Savista).
Craft and Bazaar Tours
The medieval town of Bagru, famous as a weaving and block printing centre, is 10 km by car from Savista. 120 km away, proceeding further on the Jaipur-Ajmer Road, is the 10th century temple town of Pushkar, also famous for its annual animal fair in November which acts as a magnet for animal breeders from across the state. En route to Pushkar is Kishangarh, the seat of one of Rajasthan’s medieval schools of miniature painting, as well as a centre for marble craft. Rajasthan’s varied handicraft traditions include: jewellery using gold, silver, precious/ semi-precious stones, enamel and glass; textiles embellished with block printing, tie dye, embroidery and mirror work; ornamental leathercraft; stone and marble sculpture; hand painted blue pottery; silk fabric painting; brasswork, and numerous others. The social history of these crafts and craftspersons, for whom these are hereditary occupations, is almost as fascinating as the products themselves.
Thriving princely kingdoms, a powerful and sizeable merchant class, and Rajasthan’s strategic location on the ancient Silk Route, had historically ensured a market for high quality handmade goods. The region’s arid topography and dependence of agriculture on uncertain rainfall also provided a spur for diversification of skills. The degree of embellishment brought to articles of both everyday and special use, and into the interiors of huts, havelis, palaces and temples, was probably also directly proportionate to the harshness of the external environment. The Rajput chieftains saw themselves as patrons of art and sculpture and encouraged artisans to set up schools for the training and propagation of craft skills. Rajasthan is one of the few states in the country where almost every town has an artisan quarter specializing in particular crafts. With the disappearance of aristocratic patronage, progressive government policies and NGO activism have worked to prevent the demise of Rajasthan’s rich handicraft traditions.
Music and Dance Cultural Tours
Interested guests are also taken to ongoing classical and folk music and dance concerts in Jaipur city. Savista makes arrangements for guests who make advance requests, to visit any of the well-known classical Kathak dance schools in the city, to witness rehearsals by students, or master classes.
Jaipur has traditionally been a major centre for Kathak, a north Indian classical dance form. Kathak’s hallmark is the expression of romantic love to the accompaniment of soulful music and percussion instruments and involves intricate footwork that brings alive scores of tiny tinkling bells tied to the dancer’s ankles. Its closest western parallel is the Flamenco. The distinctive Jaipur Kathak tradition combines both, Hindu themes depicting Krishna the god of love, and the more performative or entertainment genre that was practiced in the Moghul court of medieval Delhi. Jaipur also has its own school of north Indian classical music – the Jaipur Atrauli gharana – and is one of the traditional homes of the Dhrupad school of music.
Rajasthani folk music – rich baritones that waft across desert expanses unaided by microphones, to the accompaniment of simple stringed and percussion instruments – has acquired an international following. Musicians are of all ages, dressed in colourful traditional attire, the men universally sporting impressive moustaches. Whole communities of rural-based musicians were once supported by princes and merchants. The themes recall great wars and valiant heroes, the agony of the lovelorn, as well as the colours and beauty of the desert, and the interdependence of humans, animals and trees. Today, progressive government policies regularly bring these music troupes out of their villages to perform in entertainment venues in cities.
Fairs and festivals of Rajasthan
The Rajasthan people’s festivals involve a heady explosion of colour and music! Almost every month of the year has a festival, with many of the traditional ones combining seasonal and religious dimensions. These festivals are a big tourist draw. The most interesting to a visitor to Jaipur are:
• Ajmer Sharif Urs celebrations (July)
• Teej Monsoon Festival (August)
• Tejaji Folk Festival (September)
• Dussehra Puja Festival (October)
• Rajasthan International Folk Festival (October)
• Pushkar Camel Fair (November)
• Diwali Festival of Lights (November)
• Desert Festivals (December, January, February)
• Jaipur Literary Festival (January) – (contact us for special programs)
• Jaipur International Heritage Festival (March)
• Holi Festival of Colours (March)
• Gangaur Festival (April)