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Retreating…Tania Han’s reflections on Savista Retreat

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After two days at the Pushkar Fair, we were desperate for respite from the dust and noise. We hadn’t slept well for some nights now; besides the noise of the fair, it was also an auspicious period in the Hindu lunar calendar so music from multiple wedding parties played boisterously through the nights. I chanced upon Savista Retreat on the internet. Attracted by its proximity to Jaipur Airport from where we were due to fly back and its rural setting, I booked us in for an overnight recovery stay. We didn’t expect to find our new favourite place in India.

We were welcomed by Radhika and Bhanwar with open arms and open hearts. The property is an ancestral home of Bhanwar’s, having remained in the family for generations and saved from dilapidation by their tireless efforts. Restoration was painstaking and took twenty years before they began operating as a boutique hotel five years ago. The place radiates love and care and as guests, you come away imbued with some of it.

Idyllically located in a typical Rajasthani village on 12 acres of lush greenery, Savista provided us with a much-needed respite from the dust of Pushkar, the air pollution of Delhi and the deafening urban traffic of India. It prides itself as an eco-resort. We saw more birds, bees and butterflies in one day than in a whole month in India. To call it a boutique hotel is underselling it. Rather it was our home away from home. Our battery recharge point.

The food is farm-to-fork, organically grown and vegetarian. Free range chickens provide eggs for breakfast, the butter is hand churned from local milk, the vegetables are harvested on the day. The staff are from the surrounding village, more like extended family than staff, and all smiles and sweet hellos. Very little English is spoken but none is required to translate the language of hugs and smiles. Radhika and Bhanwar are clearly passionate about providing opportunities to local people and are something of local celebrities — the camel cart driver turned up at breakfast in the morning with a new horse purchased from the Pushkar Fair, for Bhanwar to bless. Uniquely Indian and uniquely heartwarming.

We were spoiled for choice of activities — from unwinding by the pool, going for a swim, playing board games, exercising, getting a massage, going for nature walks, touring the village on the camel cart, watching a movie on the big screen or just relaxing on the roof with a good book and a pretty sunset. We reprimanded ourselves for not packing swimwear, gym wear, yoga wear and loungewear. But mostly, we were content just to sit, doze, read and recuperate. It was a joy to be able to walk barefoot on the grass and breathe clean air. Our one day and night at Savista felt like a week at a spa, a rarity on our India breaks.

We were the only guests in the 12-room property and whilst there were some stimulating conversations with our hosts, we had plenty of privacy and quiet time to ourselves. It felt like home to us. We came exhausted but left recharged, refreshed and reenergised, wishing we could have stayed forever (I not-so-jokingly asked to be adopted) or that we were part of the Savista family (or even one of the beautiful pieces of furniture!). We had to content ourselves instead with plotting our return in the future.

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Tania and Graeme may have been here for just one day and night four years ago! But their willingness to enjoy every aspect of the provisioning at Savista, their unqualified support for Savista’s philosophy, and their friendliness with all the staff – and management – quickly endeared them to Savista’s community. We adopted her and Graeme as readily and warmly as they wished to be adopted! And we continue to stay in touch; that is the most heartwarming thing. After a prolonged nomadic existence, they seem to have finally struck roots in New Zealand, and are now on their way to becoming a family. We wish them their richly deserved happiness.

Tania originally published this in November 2015 on her blog ” Stories From Perennial Journey (travel blog)”, https://medium.com/perennial-journey We are grateful for permission to reproduce it here.

Her amazing photographs and sensitive insights from her journeys can also be accessed on her instagram account: Perennial Journey, website: www.taniahan.com, and twitter account; https://twitter.com/TaniaHan

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