Unhindered by the rapid industrialisation of the state, the RAS Luxury Farms in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, celebrates nature in its truest form, much like its skincare products. Text & Photographs by Bayar Jain
Running across the massive airport in New Delhi at seven in the morning isn’t the ideal way to kick-start a two-day detox vacation. Then again, my destination, Raipur, isn’t exactly considered a wellness hotspot. Little do I know that I’m in for a relaxing surprise.
After a short drive from the Swami Vivekananda Airport, I find myself surrounded by bright yellow calendulas and towering palm trees. The RAS farms—my two-day pill for a city detox—looks cheery. As I inhale the crisp fresh air, Shubhika Jain, Founder of RAS Luxuries Pvt Ltd, greets me—as merrily as the flowers around us. Her mother and co-founder, Sangeeta Jain, and her younger sister, Suramya, exude the same warmth. Embracing me in heartfelt hugs, they hand me a fresh coconut with a bamboo straw to jumpstart the rejuvenation. Instantly, I know that both, sustainability and wellness, will make appearances throughout my stay.
Proving my hunch right, Shubhika explains how RAS strives and succeeds in being fully organic, and au naturel. This ‘farm to face’ venture—first of its kind in the country—imbibes a vertically integrated process where cultivation, harvesting, extraction, and research take place in-house, she elaborates. A look around the sprawling greens corroborates this. There are fields of chamomile flowers interspersed with amaranth blooms, each shadowed by palm trees and dotted with butterflies. As with every farm experience, though, a full stomach is ideal to get on with the day’s work.
For lunch, the family guides me to the great outdoors where a wooden table adorned with banana leaves and terracotta plates awaits. A home-cooked vegetarian meal, spread over multiple courses, satiates my hunger. Despite a tone of simplicity, each dish is fresh, giving my stomach a sense of satisfaction, without the baggage of feeling stuffed.
The farms, which make up just a smidgen of the 250 acres the family owns across the country, house many herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Shubhika’s grandfather, who accompanies us on the tour, says farming runs in the family. “We come from a family of oil traders dating back over a century,” he tells us with imminent pride, while pointing at a huge curry leaf tree and nibbling on freshly plucked arhar dal flowers. An army of red ants seems to accompany us along the drip irrigation path—a testament to the abundance of symbiotic relationships here. A small walk later, grazing cows and bleating calves beckon. “They’re used only for dairy,” Shubhika clarifies.
After journeying through the fields, making a pit-stop at the farm’s temple, and marvelling at a mantra pitched among calendulas to ward off snakes, I notice the setting sun casting a spell over the white moringa flowers. After celebrating nature so wonderfully on day one, I’m already excited for day two.
The following day begins at RAS Sakri Farms & Factory, at a distance from the main city. The moment I step out of the car, a soaring sunflower gleaming under the bright sun catches my eye. Alongside this liveliness are heaps of dried nagarmotha roots lying on the ground at the other end. The previous day’s soothing nature calls are in stark contrast to the loud machines today. Reading my thoughts, Shubhika informs me that Sakri Farms is where the production takes place.
To create essential oils, the ingredients—in this case, nagarmotha roots—are first passed through a machine to create a powder-like substance. Then, steam is passed through it, which leads to the evaporation of essential oils because of their volatile nature. In some cases, such as citrus peel oils, a cold press can also be used. The fumes thus obtained are passed through a tubular condenser, followed by a separator to disunite the condensed water and oil. Due to the oil’s natural density, it floats on the top, leaving behind a hydrosol full of nutrients.
An overload of this theory, however, leaves me perplexed. Luckily, a hands-on session of creating my own essential-oil blend follows soon after. Starting with a quick meditation to reconnect with the soul, Shubhika and Sangeeta guide me through the process of creating a good blend. Drops of lemon, clary sage, patchouli, vetiver, and lavender—all from the farms—come together in my concoction.
Next up is a session on earthing—a therapeutic process of reconnecting with the earth by walking barefoot to heal the body, mind, and soul. As I walk on the freshly tilled ground, my toes sink into the soil, and my stress dissipates into the land.
If my spirits are not lifted already, a foot scrub and massage amid the same trees do the trick. A tub of roses, lemons, citrus peels, and bath salts in warm water, is all it takes to relieve any residual muscle tension. Add to that fresh drops of essential oil, and I experience absolute tranquillity. As the scrubs work their magic on my legs, a quartz roller does wonders for my face, enhancing blood circulation. Slowly, I shut my eyes, getting blissfully lost in the melody of rustling trees and chirruping birds.