Mom-Daughter Duo’s Homestay In Panchgani Is Excellent for a Getaway

“Individuals come right here to seek out themselves,” was one of many first issues Alka Shesha, the founding father of Avabodha Homestay, instructed me after we started discussing her brainchild.

Nestled amidst the serene hills of Panchgani and overlooking the majestic Krishna river, the homestay exudes tranquillity. Nevertheless, what really distinguishes it’s the deeply ingrained dedication to sustainability and reverence for nature exhibited by each the homestay and its hosts.

“After I purchased this land, historically, there’s a puja that’s imagined to be achieved earlier than beginning the development. Nevertheless, we determined to honour nature as a substitute and vowed to take care of it simply as it’s,” Alka tells The Higher India.

Co-founded by Alka and her daughter Prachi Chaphekar, the branding on the property is managed by Prachi, whereas Alka oversees operations and different duties. “She is the physique and soul of Avabodha whereas I’m the guts,” says Prachi.

The dream of a lifetime

Earlier than establishing the homestay, Alka devoted a long time of her life to the social sector. She saved up throughout this time to remodel her ardour for serving to others discover themselves right into a actuality. “I at all times nurtured a dream of opening my very own area the place folks might come, calm down, and discover peace,” she shares.

An ardent traveller, Alka discovered the right companion in her daughter, Prachi. “Whereas I cherished travelling, my husband held the alternative view. So, more often than not, it was simply Prachi and me,” she reminisces.

The place has a activities such as bonfire and yoga retreats. Picture credit: Hemant Suthar and Prachi Chaphekar
The place has actions equivalent to bonfire and yoga retreats. Image credit score: Hemant Suthar and Prachi Chaphekar

Collectively, the mother-daughter duo explored the world extensively. “One factor I at all times made certain of whereas travelling was to remain in homestays. I’m the form of one that likes to immerse myself within the native tradition, and staying in homestays is without doubt one of the finest methods to actually perceive a spot,” Alka explains.

In 2014, she lastly determined to start out engaged on constructing her homestay ‘Avabodha’ — the Sanskrit phrase Avabodha means ‘awakening’. “I travelled throughout the nation from Uttarakhand to Himachal to seek out the right piece of land, whereas it was proper right here in Panchgani all alongside!” she says.

Prachi went to a boarding college in Panchgani and had at all times been in love with the hill station. So when Alka was taking a look at locations, she seemed for land in Panchgani too. “At any time when I went to go to her, we’d discover the place. I’d even keep again and discover the hill station alone. This made me fall in love with the property much more with each go to,” says Alka.

“After I first noticed the land and the view it supplied, I used to be shocked. I’ve by no means seen a spot this lovely. There was one thing in regards to the place that saved luring me again. It was like nature had chosen me to point out it to the world whereas preserving its sanctity,” she provides.

“So I bought the piece of land and commenced my journey in direction of my dream house,” she says.

It took almost 4 years for Alka to finish the property, they usually opened their doorways to company in 2019. Since then, the mother-daughter duo have hosted quite a few artist retreats and greater than 1,000 company of their homestay.

Prachi and Alka loved travelling and exploring local cultures together.
Prachi and Alka cherished travelling and exploring native cultures collectively.

The sweetness of doing nothing

Situated in a secluded area in Panchgani, a typical query that Alka and Prachi are sometimes requested is ‘Are there any actions to do close to the villa?’ “I inform my company that there aren’t any actions. A lot of them are caught off guard by this response, however I do that in an effort to make them perceive the significance of doing nothing,” says Alka.

Whereas the property presents quite a few participating actions, equivalent to gardening, pottery, star gazing, and bonfires, the duo encourages their company to do nothing as a substitute.

“There’s a sweetness in doing nothing, which most individuals don’t find out about. We encourage our company to sit down on the balcony or in frequent areas, sip a glass of wine, and simply benefit from the view. Take heed to the music of nature and indulge within the meals made for them,” she says.

Apart from this, Avabodha additionally hosts varied yoga and artist retreats the place artists are welcome to do soul-searching on the property. “I’m an artist myself, and the villa is filled with work given to us by our company from the artist retreats. Earlier than the pandemic, we didn’t have Wi-Fi on the property. We left a notice for our company to speak to one another and have a real off-the-grid expertise with none web. We don’t have a tv even in the present day,” informs Prachi.

If you keep at Avabodha, what you get up to are the misty hills, the chirping of bugs, and chicken songs. “We have now numerous peacocks and birds coming into our backyard, which is why we don’t enable pets on the property presently,” she provides.

The property has three bedrooms — a corridor and a kitchen together with a bonfire space, a hammock space, and a backyard. The price of staying varies primarily based on components like weekends, vacationer seasons, and holidays. On common, the whole villa prices Rs 21,000 per evening, shares Alka, and the {couples} obtain a 50 p.c low cost on their keep.

The homestay opens to an exquisite view of River Krishna.
The homestay opens to an beautiful view of River Krishna. Image credit score: Prachi

One of many prospects, R M Rao, who stayed on the property, says, “It was like I used to be at His (God’s) abode. For the primary time in my life, I heard silence — loud and clear. The sky, the house, every part was an awesome expertise. To say that the meals was good and the service by Kalpana and Anil (caretakers) was superb can be an understatement.”

The homestay serves solely vegetarian meals cooked by their caretaker, Kalpana, whom they take into account to be the “finest prepare dinner” on this planet. “She is superb, and our company by no means cease praising her,” states Prachi.

Speaking about how the meals is so tasty and organically grown, Balaraj Khakar, who stayed on the villa on his birthday, says, “I’m a hardcore non-vegetarian and was apprehensive in regards to the meals on the keep as it’s a totally vegetarian place. However I’m not exaggerating once I say that vegetarian meals has by no means tasted higher! Apart from the meals, I cherished how a lot nature was round me once I was staying on the property. It was a very superb expertise.”

When requested about how they’re preserving their property eco-friendly, Alka delves into the small print of how the property was constructed with a sustainable philosophy from the outset.

“After I was beginning the development of the property I had the best problem — discovering an eco-friendly architect who matches into my finances. After looking out so much, I discovered one in Sataram,” she shares. “I wished to make use of mud for the development of my house. Nevertheless, the place didn’t have sufficient clay within the soil to carry it collectively. So we needed to change to laterite stone.”

“We have now no columns within the construction and metal is used to the minimal amount. Each bone in our house is in alignment with nature. We additionally compost all of our moist waste and use it as manure for our natural backyard. We even have photo voltaic heaters, and the home is designed for rainwater harvesting, which we’re planning to start out quickly,” she provides.

Wanting again at her lovely house and all of the recollections the duo has collected over the previous few years, Alka displays that it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. When she determined to start out in search of land and her dream was nearer to actuality, most individuals round her confirmed concern.

“To start with, I used to be about to throw in all my life financial savings, and that was an enormous threat. The thought {that a} lady would possibly be capable to do that all on her personal was unimaginable to many. A lot of my kinfolk questioned my choice, however I had a aim in thoughts and was unshakable,” she says.

When Alka was shopping for the property, she confronted numerous resistance inside the group. “I used to be a stranger making an attempt to purchase their land and on high of that, a girl. After I can be working with the labourers on the positioning, males from the village would come and declare that ‘you can not do that’.”

“The property is sort of remoted, and typically I’d be on their own with some males engaged on the property. This actually was a matter of concern for my household,” she remembers.

Nevertheless, none of those points deterred her from constructing her dream home. “It was round this time that I met Kalpana who’s now our caretaker and help system at Avabodha. She turned my means of creating my place in the neighborhood,” she says.

Slowly, the group began to simply accept her and the homestay. “Now, they transcend their means to assist me run the place and maintain it protected,” she informs.

“I’d say go for it women, nothing can cease you when you have the desire to do it,” she says.

On working together with her mom, Prachi muses, “It is extremely uncommon when two members of the family come collectively to run a enterprise. Between my mom and I, there’s a big generational hole however we’ve got completely different views and concepts. Nevertheless, what bonds us collectively is the willingness to be taught from one another. It has been a very superb expertise,” she says.

In case you want to expertise ‘nothingness’ at Avabodha Homestay, you may ebook the place right here.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat)

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