Recently,I spent a quiet and contemplative weekend with Nithya Shanti and others in B R Hills, about 200kms from Bangalore. We stayed in Gorukana Resort, nestled between the trees far in the hills. As I walked in through the gateway, I was welcomed by a heady concoction of fresh air, smell of wet earth, clear blue sky and a warm smile from the receptionist.
The swiss chalet like cottages and the tree house dotting the rustic patches of green of different hues made a pretty picture that instantly soothed the mind. The semi nomadic Soliga Tribes are the original inhabitants of this region, who live in complete harmony with nature. The resort is a source of employment for many locals, an endeavour to give visitors a slice of nature and a peek into tribal life.
I loved the small store adjacent to the reception which displayed all possible kinds of produce made of Amla (Gooseberry). I am on an amla diet these days, to load up on Vitamin C. I quickly identified bottles of the juicy murabba,spicy pickle, the sweet juice and sundried salted pieces of the amla to take back home.
We spent greater part of the morning and afternoon in quiet reflection under Nithya Shanti’s guidance. The resort naturalist Jeddaswamy took us on an evening nature trail through the forest to the sunset point. He explained everything in clear English, deftly clearing the way for us to walk and sighting birds and butterflies accurately from a distance which my city trained eyes conveniently overlooked.
The whistling wind, the swinging tree tops,flocks of birds returning home, accompanied by the occasional cry of an animal gave a perfect farewell to the receding sun. The streaks of orange in the clear blue sky showed us the way to retrace our steps through the narrow pathways, dotted with bells and bottles hanging on ropes to warn villagers from approaching animals.
We walked through the neatly maintained Soliga settlements greeted by smiling women performing evening chores together. I salute Padmashri Dr H Sudarshan for more than 3 decades of untiring effort to improve the lot of Soligas and provide them access to the basic necessities. Naturalist Jeddeswamy, receptionist Tara with their affable communication in English and efficient ways are testimony to his efforts. I resolve to sleep with my eyes open now, not to miss the experience of such wonderful efforts of extraordinary individuals. The later part of the evening was spent in watching the Soliga Beats musical show.
For more details: http://www.gorukana.org