I like the owner. The first impression, however, was rather offputting, almost as though we were unwelcome and bothersome intruders. Maybe he is shy.
I also admire him for the effort and expense he has put into being eco-sustainable. His structure must have been very innovative when he built it thirty years or so ago (just imagine how much PV panels cost then as compared to now!). He made a small textbook for a better future.
I wonder, however, whether they will survive. He is getting old. Not as old as I am but getting there. I wonder whether his children will have his same drive and intellectual enthusiasm.
And I believe that if they are going to survive they will have to invest a bit of money and a lot of time and effort, because the world of tourism has changed over the last 30 years. Hitch-hikers are a thing of the past. Back-packers are fewer and fewer.
So I will give him a few suggestions.
Some are really quite inexpensive. Such as putting night tables with lights so people can read in bed. And boosting the lux level in general.
Some will cost a bit more, but really, having hot water at the bathroom sink is not sinful. And shaving with cold water in a cold room is not exactly pleasant.
And some things will cost: replace the AC system (probably rather old as it is) with a heat pump/inverter unit. Heat pumps are much more eco-sustainable than electric resistance heaters anyway.
Just imagine how comfy and charming those little lodges would be if they were warm, well-lit and had hot water....
All of this without subverting the ecological nature and lessons of the Lodge.
One last suggestion, if they really want to continue in business: don't treat drivers as though they were dogs. I really don't understand this behavior. Drivers are important. We tourists are in their hands and appreciate their suggestions. Our driver (a wonderful person) will certainly give negative feedback to his tour operators, who in turn will dissuade eventual guests from staying at Apani Dhani Eco-Lodge. Talk about counter-productive behavior. Makes no sense at all.
Do I recommend staying at Apani Dhani Eco-Lodge? Well the food was excellent, the company of the other guests and that of the owner (after breaking the ice) was fun and enjoyable, the location is good and the style, after our stays in a lengthy series of lovely polished marble and glass Heritage Hotels, was refreshing. So the choice really depends on you.
I choose to stay with Apani Dhani as a base for exploring Shekhawati and its various little hamlets.
I arrived from Jaipur via public transport to Nawalgarh on a hot sunny afternoon (worth keeping in mind that you need to alight at Nawalgarh Main Depot as Mr Ramesh Jangid would tell you) and the property is a good 500 mtrs odd walk from there. Although there are no screaming sign post's to herald the arrival of the hotel, this can be well located on the maps.
Since i was travelling alone, i choose to take a room which had decent basic facilities. All rooms and the property overall is well maintained and has a nice rural charm to it. The forecourt of the property has a nice out door seating area with lot of bougainvillea.
I will fondly remember spending quite a lot of time chatting with the multilingual Mr Ramesh Jangid who is also the initiator of the Shekhawati chapter for INTACH & can help in arranging excursions around Shekhawati for you. I would also highly recommend taking a guided tour of the region (with Mr Rajesh Jangid, son of Mr Ramesh acting as a valuable guide) to understand more about this region. Mr Rajesh is a wonderful guide and will help you in checking out some of the more hidden gems of the region.
The food at Apani Dhani was simple yet wholesome,well done & a hygienic affair. Most of the vegetables are sourced from the local bazaars/farms and is completely organic. I used to look forward to sample a different type of vegetarian meal preparation at dinner for the 3 nights i was here. Also due to the fact that there aren't too much options in terms of eating out, i used to prefer eating in. Although i do admit that the meals here are slightly expensive, but then i urge you to incorporate the meals as a part of the whole experience.
Overall had a wonderful stay and a great time outdoors exploring.
The place is beautiful and clean. You can choose to sleep in hut or in bedroom. The decoration is made with good taste. The people there are friendly and helpful, they offer also activities to discover the traditions of Rajasthan
The food is simple and good, there you don't scare for your stomach !!!
The have filter water also.
I recommend this place really
My daughter and I had a wonderful stay with our Apani Dhani “family!’ We were welcomed into their enchanting lodge and home with open arms. Our room was beautiful and the food fabulous. We had so much fun in a cooking class, starting with picking the vegetables from the garden, ending by sitting down to a fabulous dinner! We bought Gajendra’s cookbook (available at Apani Dhani) and are excited to try the recipes at home! The town of Nawalgarh is very interesting to tour. There are activities, classes offered such as bicycle tour and crafts. Thank you all so much for your wonderful kindness and hospitality. Can’t wait to return!
My girlfriend and I stayed 1 night at Apani Dhani and then wanted to explore the rest of Shekawati. We decided to cut our trip short to come back for another 3 nights because we liked it so much. The host family is extremely helpful – they helped us find a driver several times – and the vegetarian meals served family style in the dining room are to die for! Many ingredients from their own garden, freshly home-churned butter and marmalade from the kitchen, freshly baked bread from the wood-fired oven in the back... Well worth visiting, highly recommended!