Rajasthan, in northern India, also known as the “Land of Maharajas” is the largest state in the country, comprising of 33 districts, and its largest and capital city is Jaipur. It is renowned for its majestic palaces, forts and monuments. The Himalayas is a mountain range with the highest mountains in the world which stretches across the northeastern portion of India and are famed for their beauty and unique tranquil aura.
Join Chef Bettina Campolucci-Bordi for an unforgettable ten day retreat exploring vibrant Rajasthan and the majestic Himalayas. On this trip you will experience cooking with local produce and creating meals with Bettina for four days at a Rajasthani retreat just outside of Jaipur, slow travel in 1st class sleeper trains and three days trekking in The Himalayas, staying at a private mountain retreat, visiting ancient shrines and sacred temples.
First you will travel to Rajasthan for four nights to a heritage retreat in a peaceful 12-acre estate of lush gardens and open countryside. Set in a village just outside of Jaipur, this location will give you a taste of pristine rural Rajasthan. You will sleep in uniquely-designed, airy rooms with plenty of natural light and views of greenery all around. The emphasis here is on sustainable living and integration with the local community.
While you are staying here, you will enjoy morning yoga and meditation sessions, followed by a delicious breakfast, before spending your mornings with Bettina and her local kitchen team, learning how to compose beautiful plant based meals with local produce. The food philosophy here is farm-to-fork, and the estate grows its own vegetables and grains, beans and oilseeds, so you will collect your ingredients and then head to the kitchen to create your own lunch.
In the afternoons you can relax and enjoy the pool, or head out by camel cart or bicycle through the countryside and local hamlets. You can participate in a workshop with an artisan community specialising in hand Blockprinting, a craft that goes back locally to over 350 years ago. The printing process uses plant materials for colours, local mud and agricultural waste materials for the dyeing process and hand carved wooden blocks. You will learn from the master printer, working alongside traditional artisans and come away with your own printed cotton product.
You will visit the famous pink city of Jaipur for a walking tour of the historic sights and spice markets, plus an ethical elephant sanctuary to bath and feed the elephants. On the last day in Jaipur you will visit local markets to purchase supplies followed by an Indian cooking class where you create the contents for your own tiffins (Indian lunchbox) which you will need for your overnight 1st class sleeper train up to the Himalayas.
You then have three nights at a private mountain retreat in Kasar Devi, a mountain ridge above the historical city of Almora. Home to native forests, hidden waterfalls, rustic villages dotted with medieval stone temples and terraced farms, this region forms part of the historic route connecting India to Tibet. The luxury suites, lounge, spa, library and cantilevered dining area are suspended over the valley below with unmitigated views of The Himalayas.
Our time here is spent hiking along mountain trails to ancient shrines, including an epic full day trek through forests to a magical cedar grove, home to the sacred temple complex of Jageshwar and a visit to the Binsar wildlife sanctuary, the ancient Binsar Mahadev temple and a climb to Zero Point for 360 degree views of the high Himalayan peaks from Himachal in the north west to Nepal in the East. A massage is included in your mountain retreat, along with two foraging/cooking classes with Bettina and her local team.
This trip is perfect for those with an adventurous spirit. You will be harvesting from the onsite farm and engaged in hands on cooking, so a love of food and interest in Asian cooking would make this more fun! A good level of fitness is needed for hiking around the mountains.