We drove back to Gudalur from Devala, one of the highest peaks of the Nilgiris range and spend one night at Gouri farms and the next night at Arjun farms.
Gouri farms is a ten-acre organic farm in the foothills, far away in the suburbs of Gudallur. Next to it is a school run by Accord, the NGO that owns Madhuvana. This is all overseen by Ankur, a name I heard quite a lot while Sridhar prepared me for the trip.
The drive back was mostly quiet, the three-day-stay at Ecoscape was still sinking in. We finally reached Gouri Farms and met Ankur in the school. Although we couldn’t spend much time with him that night, we did see the incredible work that the NGO does to educate and rehabilitate the tribes in the area so that they don’t get displaced.
Gouri Farms was started by a doctor couple who came back into this small town from to ‘give back and pay it forward’. They built a hospital to help the locals and a farm-stay to support this venture.https://www.thoughtworks.com/insights/blog/partnering-hospital-and-adivasis
We stayed in a suite with two rooms, two bathrooms and a kitchenette. There were towels and soaps in the bathrooms along with basic utensils in kitchen with sugar, salt and pepper. Sitting on the verandah would be the best time as we could get lost in the beauty of flowering plants outside. There is a huge garden beyond with flat grass and a few swings. Cows, birds, spiders of various kinds, cicadas, bees, butterflies, local indigenous trees and plant species, with someone like Krishnan, there is enough to learn at leisure here. My kids had company till sunset. bath and simple home cooked dinner followed before quiet bedtime with books. This place could make a good two-night three-day getaway.
After watching the cows being milked and shed cleaned, we set off for our last road trip – to visit the most recommended farm-stay on the outskirts of Chennai.
Arjun Farms, near Chengalpattu, is lovingly called ‘Ayyer Thottum’ by the locals. It is rustic and radical; mostly built using recycled materials, wooden logs, discarded stones and tiles, thatched roofs, discarded metal pieces and so on. Arjun is a retired army man well connected with the Theosophical Society in Chennai. Being an ardent follower of Ramana Maharishi, his outlook to life itself was a revelation.
We stayed the night in an army tent with four charpais and pillows. Bathrooms are very basic. Store room has a lock and key for luggage, but safety here is not an issue at all! Toads jump around everywhere and croak quite loudly at night – it is a soothing company alright! There are lots of friendly dogs and cats, all local breeds seeking Arjun’s warmth and shelter. Early morning we took a walk around the farm, having Krishnan’s company made everything worth it – be it animal behaviour, insect and rodent control, work of worms on soil, how to rehabilitate barren lands, secret of reviving dry lakes – He had loads to share and he shared it with us happily. He also taught us how to drink tender coconut water with coconut leaf as a straw – what fun that was!
Our drive back to the city after a hearty breakfast of neer dosai and coconut chutney, was one of quiet contemplation. We learnt a lot of things here – most important being that we could live a life with zero carbon credits. Thanks to Krishnan and Arjun for that.
Eco-login, we sincerely thank you for that awesome five day trip.