“One weekend in India, no friends to come along, the desire to see as much as possible but also to find some peace and have some rest.
What do I do?
I started researching, survey, reading travel blogs… to see what most could fit me and then almost randomly, comes up to my Google webpage “Savista Retreat, Jaipur”.
I must say that after being captured by the charm of this ancient palace immersed in the countryside, the next intriguing thing was definitively the old fashioned style of Bhanwar, the owner, who inherited the mansion and decided to transform it into a boutique hotel. He gently said to me when inquiring about my solo travel plans: “You are safe here in Jaipur and at Savista. We will take care of you”.
And so my journey began.
Only two days and three nights to discover Jaipur and surroundings! So here is a glimpse of what I have done.
I arrived at Jaipur airport, and transferred privately to the mansion. The Savista staff had prepared for me a delicious vegetarian dinner, which was a perfect meal to unwind, detox and get back in touch with nature. All cooked with organic products and ingredients cultivated without preservatives on the gardens behind the structure.
I borrowed a travel book on Jaipur from one of the libraries and relaxed until ready to sleep in my authentic and cozy room “Kesar” (in local idiom the “Lover” room).
I woke up with the sound of birds and had breakfast in the outdoor area, where I was delighted to meet interesting guests who share their travel advices on the area. I decided then to get ready, and went on a tour with a driver/ guide arranged by the hotel. Quick stop for the “best curd spot” right outside of the Pink City. And then the amusing Hawa Mahal, the majestic Amer Fort and impressive Jal Mahal. A few shopping sites to appreciate the local crafts. And no better way to end the day than at Samode Haveli, a restaurant part of the historical and prestigious omonimus hotel in the center of Jaipur, for a memorable butter chicken experience.
I woke up at sunrise, which in Jaipur is particularly special, as Indian people don’t wake up early and you can enjoy no traffic in the city as well the beautiful sunlight shining over the pink walls and houses.
I went to the temple of Krishna, where I assisted the believers to congregate and worship the God. All the rituals and significance were later beautifully explained to me by Radhika , Bhanwar’s wife (and former academic). Radhika taught me that Krishna represents love in all its forms and He is one of the most adored Gods in India . She said that the colored dot of paste they put on my forehead was meant to activate my chakra, allowing me to connect better with God. She continued to explain, “Rituals are here to help humans understand God better. People that are spiritually mature interiorize faith, but most people look outside and need symbols to be able to relate to the divine “.
I am Catholic, nevertheless, that Sunday I felt closer to God.
Coming back from the temple made me hungry and tired so I took that opportunity to enjoy Savista’s amenities. The pool, the complimentary bike ride through the surrounding country paths, the garden walk to smell the fresh produce.
And last but not least, a powerful one on one yoga and meditation session with Radhika to learn the sun salutation steps and a couple of meditation techniques.
Before leaving this gem of a city, I visited my favorite temple : Galtaji temple, or Monkey temple. Due to people bringing offers during the years, thinking that its lake – today reduced to a pond – was a sacred healing site, it attracted hundreds of monkeys. These monkeys eventually colonized this amazing temple and now spend their time playing and fighting with each other. It is a surreal spot and can’t be missed.
A land of wonder, history and nature. Jaipur is in my heart now.
Wish you readers a similarly enjoyable time !
Sara was one of our friendliest guests of the year. A pleasure to interact with, she was full of thoughtful questions about everything that she encountered, curious to more deeply understand the local culture and traditions, taking delight in the small details around her and, above all, being non-judgemental, warm, and compassionate towards the ordinary people she came into contact with.
For instance, when she took her long bike ride through the village and surrounding countryside she encountered lots of smiling and waving adults and children. But she remembered that in the city she had encountered men who had stared at her. We had a long discussion about the reasons for the staring (a feature born more out of curiosity than the intention to be invasive), the gender divide, the simple reality that in Jaipur/north India, in public spaces, men tend to predominate, as different from what she had noticed in Mumbai which was her previous stop…She confessed to having felt some discomfort, but remained determinedly objective and analytical in her response, and refused to condemn.
She was keen to observe modes of worship here, and also wanted to experience the Pink City “without people” (a tough call in India at the best of times!). When we suggested a visit to the Govind Devji Temple at 4 a.m. to be part of the participatory puja (ritual), little did we expect that she would respond with such alacrity. She returned feeling fulfilled and full of more questions. This time about the extent of homelessness that she observed in the city, the differences between city and country in this regard, food security, and what might be the ways in which she could do her bit to reach food to needy people. It led to a whole new discussion on traditional and modern modes of charity and giving in India, and it was a very thoughtful Sara who left for the airport, planning to do the Monkey Temple and some experimentation with food distribution en route…
For someone who had just two days leisure sandwiched between two work weeks in Mumbai and Delhi before returning home, she brought a great deal of intensity and enjoyment to her time at Savista. We would love to see her back!