“Sleep in Rajasthani tented lodges or boutique suites at this eco-friendly yoga retreat, encircled by palm trees and paddy fields”
You don’t have to rough it to sleep close to the elements here. The 7 Rajasthani tented eco-lodges (open from December to May) sit under inverted V bamboo thatches, which provide shade from the sun and keep the interiors cool. Each is adorned with flags in one of the 7 colours of the body’s chakras (or energy centres). The corresponding colour is picked up in the hand block-printed walls and silk fabrics inside, and in the tent name.
Simple and uncluttered, the tents have a main room with a double bed (or a twin if you prefer), iron bedside tables, low cushions and a table with a joss stick holder. Through a canvas door is a pleasant dressing area with a canvas wardrobe, a mirror, a sink and a clay pot dispensing well water (changed daily). There's also a sofabed in here, which can be made up into a single bed by request. At the front, each tent has a private terrace made from baked mud and cow dung, complete with chairs and a table.
Outdoors, at the back of your tent and enclosed by bamboo and palm leaf walls, are the solar panels supplying your low-voltage halogen lighting, a hand-bathing area, and impressive eco-composting toilet using odour-free mango chips. Hot water open-air showers surrounded by bamboo and woven palm leaves are a short walk away - dressing gowns are provided. There are no plug sockets in the tents, but you can charge cameras and phones etc at reception.
Available all year round, the 2 boutique-style suites, Maharaja and Maharani, form part of the main house and each sleep 2-3 people. Old wooden doors, arched windows and shutters and curved walls cut from local stone create a mini-castle ambience. Outside, verandas with bamboo furniture overlook a private garden and the pool.
The high-ceilinged bedrooms are decked out with four-poster beds clad in white muslin, jute and saffron silks. Cushioned sofas and Rajasthani antiques create cosy living areas, and iron staircases lead up to spacious mezzanines under the eves. These can be used as a meditation space, a clothes storage area or a bedroom for a third person. Fans throughout keep things beautifully cool. Back downstairs, the bathrooms have solar-heated showers for 2 and sunken baths, as well as piles of fluffy towels and bathrobes. Book the 2 suites together during monsoon season and you also get butler service.
The food at YogaMagic is almost entirely vegetarian and is simply delicious - even hardened carnivores will be impressed. Start your day with a breakfast of fresh fruit, homemade curd, muesli, nuts and local honey. You’re just as likely to find pomegranate or chikoo in your earthernware bowls as you are mango or lush watermelon. Eggs are also on the menu - go for boiled with skinny buttered soldiers, poached on a bed of wilted spinach with herb butter, or scrambled with sauteed masala tomatoes.
A selection of healthy juices are available throughout the day, designed to boost and cleanse your system - you can have everything from carrot, orange, beetroot and ginger to papaya with lemon or mint. Hot drinks such as Masala chai, herbal teas and organic coffee are also on offer, or you can try a YogaMagic lassi, made with locally sourced buffalo milk (the range includes chikoo with cinnamon, strawberry and mint, and banana and cardamon). Unlimited, purified well water is also available whenever you need it.
Lunch is ordered from a daily menu - perhaps salad of the day with chutneys and breads, a smooth channa (chickpea) paté served with balsamic char-grilled vegetables, or a curried lentil soup served with hot local rolls - all at exceptional value.
Dinner is a set meal at around 7.30pm - if you’re independent, just inform them by lunchtime if you want to eat. The dinner menu is a changing spread of utterly delicious vegetarian dishes inspired by South Indian cuisine - described by Juliet as ‘local home cooking and street food with a twist’. Using good quality spices, with lots of coriander and coconut, the dishes are carefully tailored to suit health-conscious westerners. The palek paneer, for example, uses no cream or ghee - instead peas are blended with spinach to get that creamy feeling. Many of the vegetables and herbs used are grown on site, and there are big plans to expand the gardens. A typical menu might include freshly cooked Paraati Channa (chickpeas and yellow dahl cooked with fresh mint ), Jack fruit masala, Gajar Methi (carrots lighlty cooked with tamrind, lemon juice and lots of corriander), Hari Lal (mushrooms and red and green peppers cooked with ginger and spices), lemon rice and red pepper salad - all served with tomato and mustard seed raita, puris, and homemade hot breads. There’s also a fish barbecue on Fridays, if there’s enough people, often on a specially-chosen beach.
Meals are taken by the pool, on the lawns or in the pleasant, open and airy restaurant based around the Water Tower. This has a Buddha statue, low tables and cushions or high tables and wicker chairs, a lovely view and interesting artefacts dotted around.