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The International Writers Magazine - Our 17th Year: India

Our Native Village
Marianne de Nazareth

We wanted a break desperately from the pollution and the stress of living in the heart of Bangalore. So when a long weekend popped up with the 15th August holiday, combined with a Sunday, we decided to take off to Our Native Village and enjoy their one night and two day package. Just a 40km drive out of the city, in Hessarghatta, Our Native Village was the perfect choice to unwind and give ourselves up to the simple joys of clean air, bird song and indulging in games like tops and kite flying that we have all forgotten!

Since Climate Change is an area that I specialise in as a journalist and educator, the fact that Our Native Village is India’s first 100 percent eco resort was an added draw to take the break there. As we drove through probably the last remaining grasslands outside Bangalore, towards the resort, the tall and swiftly turning windmill in the property was what caught our collective eye. Then once we quaffed our welcome drink and headed to our room we noticed the rows of solar panels across the restaurant area of the resort. " Every roof is also connected to a network of rain water harvesting pipes and besides a single bore-well, all our requirements for water are met by harvesting the rain," revealed Kapila Ramakrishnan the hostess of the resort. The resort is the brain child and is owned by CB Ramkumar.
"We also recycle the grey water used in the baths and wash basins for the garden." The entire property is a mass of lush, well maintained gardens, and the effort behind not wasting water is heart-warming, considering we still wash our cars and drive ways in Bangalore with clean, potable, Cauvery water.

The buildings too have been constructed out of bricks made with the clay dug out for the foundations. All the naturally cooled rooms, have been planned by an architect, with a combination of long narrow and broad windows, to allow cross ventilation. Thankfully there are no air-conditioners anywhere on the property. Across the wall behind the master bed are murals done by local village artisans in bright jewel colours. The baths too offer organic soaps and shampoos so the waste water does not contain chemicals which could harm the plants. " 75 to 80 percent of the energy for the rooms is from renewable power from our wind-mill and the solar panels," said Kapila with a tinge of pride in her voce.

Forgotten games like kite flying, spinning of tops, gilli dandu and hitting the can with a catapult kept the guests happily engrossed for hours. Surprising considering that many of the guests were NRI’s on holiday. Not once did the kids hassle their parents for the TV or computer games. Instead they happily watched a village magician perform exciting sleight of hand tricks, making rings and balls disappear and appear to the enormous delight of the kids. It’s a good feeling to see that games we played as kids before the computer made inroads into our lives are alive and well at the resort.

Dinner was a sumptuous buffet cooked in a 100 percent bio-gas kitchen. There is definitely something about slow cooked food, the butter chicken and fish curry tasted far better, than the same dishes do when ordered in the city. An organic farm attached to the resort provides the vegetables that go into making of the meals. The open kitchen is any chef’s delight- large and airy and proof that bio-gas is odour free. Just beyond the kitchen is the bio-gas plant where dung from the cows and de-oiled neem cake is used to supply the kitchen with all its energy needs.

The enormous windmills that supply wind energy in Denmark have the negative aspect of noise pollution with their huge rotor blades. However the windmill in Our Native Village made a pleasant swishing sound, which was not annoying to the ear. A room near the windmill houses the batteries, which are continuously being charged, by the constantly working windmill. Of course the fact that the resort is on higher land and clear of trees and just rolling grasslands around is what makes the windmill a great success. In the evening after some smoking hot samosas and divine chai, we took a bullock cart ride around the property and outside past a site where the Nokia crew were filming their latest ad. The cart had well inflated wheels and yet it was a bumpy but fun ride. " That’s George Fernandes banana farm’, volunteered the cart man as we craned our necks to look at the special plantation as we passed by!

Under the trees, a potter sits, helping guests who are interested, learn the art of making a pot or two. You could even get down to the nitty gritty of teaching your child where milk actually comes from, by milking a cow in the dairy farm. The foreigners find it great fun trying their hand and for many modern day kids, it’s a revelation that milk does not come from cartons bought in the supermarket but from cows!

After dinner we were treated to a group of drummers from the villages around. Five of them kicked up a veritable storm for a hour which brought all the assembled guests on their feet dancing bhangra style around a roaring bonfire. Two Swiss guests got swept into the fun of the moment happy to learn the steps from the Indian guests in the group. Dinner indulgences digested, we all wended our way back to our rooms to sleep cocooned in the silence of the resort.

Our Native Village has been awarded the ‘Highly Commended Best Small Accommodation’ at Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2008 given out at the World Travel Market, in London.
Directions: Our Native Village: Hessarghatta, 40 km from Bangalore. Directions can be downloaded from
Ph: 891 80 41140909
Check at the resort office for: Weekend, Heritage, Village Experience, Soul Spa, Ayurvedic spa therapy and Birding paradise packages.Marianne de Nazareth

© Marianne de Nazareth August 2009

Coonoor & Ooty relics of the Raj - Marianne de Nazareth
After a hiatus of five years, we decided to hit the road and ‘do’ Ooty (Ootacamund) and Coonoor for three days.



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