The first thing you notice when you drive down to “Our Native Village” is how dramatically a landscape can change. You might begin stuck in a long beeline to get past Mekhri circle, but an hour later you find yourself off the tar, on a dirt road charting through an endless expanse of grassland. Positioned ahead against the horizon is a small passage through a vast expanse of trees. This longs to sound as a narrative from a Tolkien book, but it isn’t. It is the surprisingly unique entrance to the eco-resort, “Our Native Village”. Located roughly 30 kms from Bangalore city, Our Native Village offers you that ideal weekend getaway when you want to get away from all things urban. It is an award-winning concept and recipient of the Virgin tourism award.
Greeting you at the resort is a beaming Ms. Ambika Ramakrishnan. Their motivation came from a hark back to their childhood; whenever people would ask them where they were going for a holiday, the obvious answer was “our native village”. And this theme resonates in every aspect of this eco-resort that focuses on holistic health. You suddenly seem to take time to marvel all the little things around, the lush green, the vast expanse of organic farmland and yes, when you are fortunate enough, even a circular rainbow.
The Look, the Theme and the Experience
Designed by Bangalore based architect Chitra Vishwanath, the campus, literally works on the principal that “what is best is what is local”. Every brick in this structure is unique in that it is made from the local red soil and sun-baked. The net effect is a brilliantly striking structure that is also naturally cool in the hot Bangalore summers. But the resort incorporates what can best be termed as New Age svavalamban– It makes its own energy, harvests its own water and grows its own food. Subtly scattered around the premises are a windmill, dozens of solar panels and a bio-gas plant. The distinctly wave-shaped roofs do more than just adorn the structure – they aid rain-water harvesting. To optimize natural resources further, the resort uses a brilliant local concept of a three layered roofing comprising of a palm leaf thatch, zinc sheets and bamboo mat lining, in that order.
ONV sits in the midst of acres of organically grown farmland. To travel from one place to another you can catch the bullock-cart “shuttle” they provide you with, or cycle it down. The resort also features locally inspired outdoor décor like a circular seating area adorned by veerakallu or memory stones (Veerakallus or memory stones have been part of Indian history since the 4th century. They used to be installed in the memory of brave heroes and dutiful women folk of the past and is a way our rich cultural heritage is recorded)
Step into one of the rooms and again the amazing local flavor continues to resonate. Every room has a unique mural, painted by local artists, that reflects a unique style of Indian art. Another thing that catches your eye: NO BEDS. Instead there are raised platforms with thick mattresses. Placed discreetly in a corner you find a select collection of books, carefully chosen by the proprietor herself. This, along with the absence of an idiot box, is a subtle indication to tell you, that it is time to catch up with that most important person – you. Other aspects of the room include terracotta water pitchers and glasses; a light wisp of sambrani (a traditional Indian incense) to freshen the room, custom made soaps and salves in the bathroom and of course, the view.
Next up is the restaurant with its own share of surprises. The entire menu features zero oil cooking. The food also reflects the Ms. Ramakrishnan’s focus on veganism and holistic nutrition. And contrary to what you’d expect, the food tastes real good too. On the day of my visit, the menu consisted of cold Carrot Soup, the traditional Indian fare of roti and different subzis, salads and yes even a biryani! You really cannot make out the absence of oil in the entire fare. The cuisine blends elements of cooking-styles from both North and South India to create a mouth-watering meal. And to top it off you get to enjoy Ms. Ramakrishnan’s wonderful company as she spends time with each guest.
What good is holistic healing if it comes without an element of pampering? ONV features “Soul Spa”- a one of a kind spa that features conventional therapies based on Ayurveda combined with new age techniques like “Past Life Regression” and “Rebirthing Breathwork”. The spa uses very authentic equipment like a table made from Neem-wood in accordance with Ayurvedic practices from Kerala. As you lie down, you find the more subtle influences from the state, like a fossilized palm leaf impression on the ceiling. You can enjoy a myriad massages like the abhyangam (full body massage), shirodara (unique head message where oil is slowly trickled over your forehead from a brass cistern), dinachari (to help you detoxify) or the kadibasti (for all those stressed executives with a bad back).
The resort also features a Meditation Center and a herb garden. This garden has been grown based on recommendations of the FRLHT (Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Tradition). The garden comprises a collection of colorful herbs and remedial plants. You may even find the natural equivalent of a Band-Aid here!
Tired of all the pampering for your soul? Well, how about a swim in the bio pool. This is a zero-chemical pool and features a natural filtration system of reeds and rushes that purifies the water. This water is reused by the resort in its farmland.
For the Kids:
If there’s so much to do for the adult folk, why should the bachha-party stay put? ONV hosts an array of traditional games like gilli-danda, slingshots and many more. Kids can also get a taste of what life was in the yester-years by taking part in activities like milking cows, pottery and painting. Says Mr. Abhilash (one of the staff-members), “If you ask today’s kids where milk comes from, they will say a packet. That is why we decided to feature these unique activities to help them learn what life in the village was like”.
There is also a host of indoor games like pallankuzhi, chess, snakes-and-ladders and many more.
Fact ListAddress: Survey no 72 | Kodihalli Village, Hessargatta Road, Rural District, Bangalore 560088, India
Distance from major transport centers:
Train station (Bengaluru-city): 48 kms
Airport (BIAL) : 50 kms
Hot and cold water
Doctor on call
Author: Akshad Viswanathan
Akshad has worked with Yahoo! Inc and is currently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. He loves quizzing, specifically Biz-quizzes. His other full time activity is reading, lots of it.
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