Drive down 45 km southwest from the city of Pune (Maharashtra, West India) and you will see a beautiful man-made forest in the Sahyadri range. But when Dr. Pravin Chordia bought this property in the year 2000, it was still barren land. The natural forest had been destroyed, despite Sahyadri being a region that receives heavy rainfall. Dr. Chordia decided that this would be the place where he would reclaim his life by getting close to nature.
Dr. Chordia was a general surgeon who ran his own hospital in Pune. But a flourishing career of 22 years still left him feeling disturbed. The increasing dependency on medicines and polluted city life made him conscious that something was not right with the way we live.
They bought 110 acres of land in Velhe Taluka, Dhanep, in the Sahyadri range. They started reforesting this land and planted at least two hundred and fifty thousand trees, but not all of them survived. Today, at least 50,000 trees, of more than 1000 species, are thriving in the land as a thick forest. They have successfully reforested 45 acres of the 110 acre land and the tree planting continues religiously.
Later he decided to experiment with sustainable living by creating an eco-village in their land in the Sahyadri range. They built mud houses out of compressed mud bricks. The family started to grow fresh fruits and vegetables.
They also started working together with the local farmers and helped them switch to organic methods of farming. They composted the waste in the farm and generated biogas.
They installed solar panels and looked for other natural ways of energy generation like photovoltaic, gobar gas and solar cooker. They did rainwater harvesting and built ponds on the land. A negligible amount of power is used from the grid and every drop of water is recycled in this eco-village.
They named this place Serene Eco Village, for its beauty and serenity.
They encouraged the farmers to take up organic farming, they also made sure that there was a market for the produce. They started procuring the organic produce from farmers and selling it in Pune. They started an incense stick manufacturing unit, oil pressing unit and medicinal herbs unit to employ the local people. There is also a school that functions in the traditional gurukul style on the premises. These activities support over 40 families in the region.
Until recently, Serene Eco Village was only a family experiment. But a couple of years ago, they opened up the Serene Eco Village experience to visitors as an agro-touristic spot.
Living in middle of the forest, learning some organic farming, eating food grown in an organic farm, trekking, and just being close to nature—that’s the agenda for most of the tourists who visit Serene Eco Village!
Dr. Chordia, who stopped his allopathic practice, is now a proponent of medicine-free living. At Serene Eco Village, Dr. Chordia hosts people from across the country who want to explore a natural and healthy way of living. He believes that good exercise, healthy living and being close to nature are the best solutions to all the complexities that urban living is imposing on us.