Published: 11th March 2020
This Kerala couple has renovated a 60-year-old ashram into a sustainable villa
Mountain Villa uses local resources and experts from the local area to create an environmental friendly property in the hills of Vagamon. Here's why it's a must visit for nature lovers
More than 60 years ago, a group of priests who owned land in the slope of Kurisumala Ashram in Vagamon built a small shed for the daily wage labourers who lent their hands in the area. Today, the same building has been erected, the foundation realigned and painted aesthetically to stand as the third cottage of Mountain Villa, a set of environment-friendly cottages that have been indigenously built with the same spirit of local craftsmanship.
"The process started purely by accident," begins Sunitha Alex, who owns the property with her husband Alex Paul. "When I look back on it, I realise that it had to happen. We'd just inherited 5 acres of forest area in Vagamon. But it has always been our dream project. What we had in mind is to keep it as close to nature as possible. In the time that went into setting the villa up, we have not cut down a single tree. We used the natural resources available to us and the people around the community."
FOOD FARE: The guests are supplied food that is grown on a small organic farm
Mountain Villa currently stands as three cottages that follow a simple rule: Nature and nothing else. Most of the work they did involved simply repainting the buildings. While one cottage was built by local artisans using bamboo from the area, the others were basically renovated using old buildings. Each cottage is powered using solar and wind energy. In addition to this, water is also drawn in from a natural spring near to the area without the use of a motor. The guests are supplied food that is grown on a small organic farm within the property itself.
Sunitha who was on a short visit from Bombay said, "We've tried to put this thought of sustainability into every small thing. We've been very involved from the beginning because we want to keep everything the way it is." The couple who inherited the property 4 years ago began working on it just one and a half years ago. She continues, "We have made the idea behind the villa very clear on all the platforms through which you can book a stay. So the people who stay with us are almost always on board with our vision. There are instances where guests pop up unaware about our responsibilities but we educate each guest during their stay. And when they know, people really appreciate what we have to offer."
The most ecologically responsible partners that the duo found were the local people of Vagamon. The workers in the area have been a part of Mountain Villa since the time it was set up. And the relationship has grown so strong that they haven't roped in any other staff members. Sunitha says, "We have plans for the property. We want to involve more local women in our work. We have people who understand the need of the hour. The changing climate is making the changes obvious, so people are alert. We are all doing our part. No one would set out to do something like this with passion." ANd Mountain Villa has been built up from the ground with just that.