More often than not almost all of us think about living a life of our dreams- maybe somewhere quiet, amidst greenery, nature’s bounty, waterfalls and lakes. This weekend getaway from Mumbai is exactly such a dream which came true for a couple who built this retreat in the quiet village of Vasundhe.
When the Nair’s moved to Vasundhe from Mumbai, they just had this Banyan tree around. Everything else on the property was built from scratch on their own with the help of the villagers. It is a perfect weekend retreat from Mumbai if you are someone who appreciates nature, simple food and a slow paced life.
Mr. Nair worked in the high stress industry of advertising before moving here a long time back. He is in his 60’s but perhaps has more energy and exuberance than a 30 year old. His stories make for great conversation and even teach some valuable life lessons. He jokes that his objective of building the retreat was to get as far away from city people as he could- so that his clients/ bosses couldn’t trace him. 😛
The property is a 2 hour drive from Mumbai and is situated off the Mumbai Pune expressway near Khopoli. It is a very small village, with no tourism except for this retreat. A genuine retreat indeed- away from the tourism circuit.
Banyan Bliss is setup in vernacular style of architecture and the place has a life of its own. Settled amidst nature, I felt even the walls could breathe.
My favourite part of the property was their dining area which overlooked the beautiful valley. The bamboo wind chimes in one of the corners, creates a beautiful woody melody whenever the valley wind gushes through.
The food served on the property was simple and home cooked, prepared by the local villagers who have been employed by the Nair’s. There are both veg and non veg options available.
Among the many interesting room options, we stayed in the Mud house and Earth room. Both have been built using mud and earth and different vernacular techniques. In case curious one can always get to understand the intricacies of this style of architecture from the hosts. The mud house was very cool from the inside even at noon and the Earth room had a very lively, airy feel to it.
One can spend the whole day lazing around the property, exploring different nooks and corners. The owners also love to have kids over, as the property is an ideal match to the playfulness and curiosity of a child. Among many other things there is also a lotus pond and a friendly horse who roams around on the property.
Evening is an ideal time to hike to the nearby Amba river. The host is kind enough to send one of the staff members along with the guests. The river is an easy 20 minute downhill hike along the village mud roads.
Amba river is the source of water for the villages nearby. We met some buffaloes relaxing in the river and some women washing clothes. I admired how close to source of water the villagers lived. It suddenly felt like a luxury to me. We took our turns to dip our feet in the water and soaked in the beauty of setting sun.
We spent rest of the evening admiring the beautiful sunset from a secret spot on the property and sipping some chai along with some bhajiye! Its true that happiness lies in the small little things in life and we as fools keep chasing some big distant goals.
We enjoyed a beautiful bonfire around dinner time, as it was early january time. The property is beautifully lit in the night and looks lovely under the shade of clear night stars.
Next morning before heading back, we explored the Vasundhe village. We traversed through the narrow lanes and multiple small settlements. We visited the local temple and passed through a primary school. I wondered how it would be if I could just teach in this school, and live here forever 🙂 The exploration on the hilly terrain apart from being extremely delightful was a great workout for all of us.
The weekend felt like a million moments spent in just 2 days. It was extremely peaceful and therapeutic. We would love to go back again in a different season to experience the nature around in a different way. You can checkout the Banyan Bliss website and book your stay. The owners are very responsive over WhatsApp as well. The best way to reach would be using a private vehicle.
This post is a part of the Weekend Getaways series that I am creating . Stay tuned for more. Till then to more such getaways, cheers!