Perched on a hillock around two hours from Mumbai is an eco-friendly homestay run by Beena and Vinod Nair. They had been residents of Mumbai all their like, but a medical emergency changed all that. Banyan Bliss was their venture to simplify and bring down the pace of their hectic lifestyle. They escaped from the city and discovered this plot of land and slowly began building one unit at a time. They eventually hit upon the idea of an eco-friendly homestay for guests.
Located in Vasunde village in the Sahyadri mountain range, the building is adorned with ethnic architecture near a century-old banyan tree. The eco-friendly homestay offers an all-around view of verdant landscapes. Clear skies and the pristine air is filled is insects and birds, the calm is punctuated by their endearing calls.
The eco-friendly homestay is a perfect example of a sustainable life. The homestay is shaded by the ever-extending branches of the banyan tree perched on the foothills of the Sahyadri range in the Raigad district of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The couple forayed into the hospitality sector by accident. While there have been thousands of satisfied guests after 2009, a couple of years after they acquired the land back in 2007, they had initially planned just a weekend retreat for their use.
The land was barren then, save for the giant banyan tree. Back then they were still considering plans on developing it. But an incident in their lives made them change their plans for a temporary getaway. Vinod had a heart attack in 2009. That made him decide to retire from his hectic urban lifestyle and retire to his newfound home.
The 18-hour work schedule of city life had taken its toll on his health. He wanted to leave behind the stress of his urban life and get away from it all. The couple chooses to give it all up and instead build an eco-friendly homestay.
They initially build four rooms with materials source locally. Rammed earth and clay tiles were used, and the roof was thatched. Recycled wood was used for the windows and doors. The couple decided to do away with televisions and air=conditioners. Visitors can browse through books at the eco-friendly homestay.
An organic garden is a vermicompost pit that is part of the place. There is also a system in place for harvesting rainwater and an indigenous layout for drip irrigation that moisturizes the vegetation.
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Vinod and Beena’s children were initially behind the transformation from a home to an eco-friendly homestay. They advertised on social media and the first of the guests began trickling in.
The Eco-friendly Homestay Gives Urban Dwellers A Chance To Detox
The eco-friendly getaway offers a chance to detox from the stressful urban life of people living in Mumbai and Pune. The quiet environment helps the guests get away from it all, and they keep returning. The guests can enjoy a couple of nearby waterfalls and a short trek to the nearby village, Behri with its rock temple and the river Amba flowing nearby.
Getting the confidence of the local community took time. They also had to labor initially to deforest the barren land. They planted native varieties of trees and used organic methods that they learned from the locals. In the initial years, they sourced their water from the river three kilometers away.
Getting architects for building the eco-friendly homestay was also a challenge. They finally had their way and built a sustainable model that worked overtime. They learned to live amidst the insects and other creatures.
Beena has also created a self-sustaining forest inspired by the methods of Akira Miyawaki. She has grown over 250 trees on 1,000 square feet of land. Her foray has helped her know more about various plant species.
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The couple inspires others in sustainable ways. For many guests, the visit is similar to a visit to their ancestral village. The couple feels that living amidst nature teaches one to learn to absorb, for we have forgotten much of our connection with nature.
All Image Credits: Thebetterindia