There are places that make you fall in love with a country like never before. Apani Dhani ecolodge is one of them. Not only do its traditional little houses provide wonderful accommodation, they also play an active role in conservation and education. When staying at Apani Dhani, you also have the option of going hiking in the local region and meeting some of the people who live there. A favourite place we were eager to share with everyone.
Armed with a strong affinity for the environment and a desire to protect it, Ramesh C. Jangid established the first guesthouse here in 1985 by opening his own home to visitors. Five years later, determined to combat mass tourism and its damaging effects, he opened Apani Dhani. "The idea was to "build a small village combining ancient know-how and modern technology; implementing alternative sources; providing a harmonious natural and human environment, promoting local crafts, etc.," as this socially and environmentally conscious entrepreneur himself puts it.
Eight rooms constructed using natural local materials such as brick, rammed earth and thatch; a central courtyard planted with enormous bougainvillea; bungalows of traditional architectural design; alternative forms of energy such as solar power to provide electricity and hot water; an organic garden – Apan Dhani really is a wonderful ode to nature.
You'll be welcomed here by the Ramesh family, who live at the site, look after the guests, and earn a living from the profits generated by the enterprise. A small percentage of those profits also goes towards funding regional development projects.
As well as providing real home-from-home accommodation, excursions out to explore the local area are also organised from Apani Dhani. Amongst the options available, the trip by camel-drawn cart – a charming and ancient Rajasthani form of transport still widely used in rural areas today – offers a particularly gentle way to visit and explore the local countryside.
Visitors can also attend workshops on bangles, tie-dying and wood sculpting. Additionally, it is possible to take cookery lessons with the women here, which is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with them and will leave you with a plethora of delicious and spicy Indian recipes to take back home!