The Savista estate consists of 12 acres. Although extremely modest by international standards, it is in keeping with the average size of farms in India.
The grounds are filled with trees and ornamental shrubs, flowering shrubs line all the pathways, there are extensive lawns that stretch across the front and sides of the haveli, to the north and west of the haveli the lawns gently give way to cropland, there is a nursery at the rear dedicated to vegetable cultivation, and the estate is ringed with a rough-and-ready walking/jogging track.
The trees are a mix of shade-bearing, flowering, fruit: lime, guava, pomegranate, custard apple, neem, khejri, gulmohur, moringa, gooseberry, karanji, ashoka, jacaranda, Siamese cassia. The shrubs are both aromatic and ornamental varieties: jasmine, champa, parijat, hibiscus, lily, lotus, rose, oleander, marigold. All the trees and shrubs are local varieties, known for their hardiness and low water requirement. The lawns are composed of local varieties of grass that are hardy and suited to the extreme climatic variations of the region. And every year in the monsoon season, we plant new trees and shrubs.
This dense tree cover in the estate ensures that the temperature at Savista is at least a few degrees cooler than in the city of Jaipur. The tradition in India of planting Neem trees around a dwelling – a practice that we follow at Savista – is based on the belief that it disinfects and cools the air. Almost all the trees at Savista have medicinal properties, again in keeping with the Indian tradition of planting trees around a dwelling that are also a health resource.
The seasonal crops grown at Savista are only for consumption within the property. The cereals, legumes, oilseeds grown are: wheat, barley, millets (bajra and jowar), moong and gavaar beans, sesame and mustard seeds, respectively. The vegetables grown are: spinach, carrot, tomato, fenugreek, cabbage, cauliflower, aubergine, okra, spring onions, garlic, radish, turnip, runner beans, French beans, string beans, etc., while cilantro, curry leaves, mint, ginger and basil are the main herbs grown.
The important thing to mention is that all of the above crops are organically grown. The Savista soil is naturally rich, helped by the fact that sections of the farmland are left fallow by rotation. Organic (farmyard) manure is the only fertiliser used, and neem-based (natural) pesticides are employed.
One of the fallouts of the tree cover and organic practices is that Savista is home to an ever-growing population of local birds which, at last count, were at around 85 varieties. Our birds are as important as the humans at Savista, and a source of much of the joy and serenity that Savista exudes.
The grounds, thus, are what sustain Savista. They offer numerous seating and relaxation and activity options for guests outside of their rooms: hammocks, garden seats and benches, string beds, swings, and basket chairs; birdwatching, tennis, walking, jogging, foot reflexology and yoga. This is in addition to the multiple communal relaxation and socialization spaces within the haveli itself.
Breakfast is served in the open – in the eastern court – in all weathers, under the trees and surrounded by flowering hibiscus. In cool weather, dinner is also served in the outdoors, under the gazebos or in the courtyard of the haveli. Only for four weeks during the coldest period of the winter are dinner and drinks served in the indoors restaurant, with its log fires and candles softly lighting the interiors.