Home away from home

Mrugaya Nature Retreat at Amboli is the perfect example of living in harmony with nature and soaking in the quiet which a regular city dweller is desperate for. 

The open space at Mrugaya

The one destination which is quite popular among Goans is the hill station Amboli, which is just 90-odd kilometers from Panaji (Goa). It is popular as a monsoon getaway and its pristine waterfalls, which are visible in every nook and corner during the wet season. However, there are other reasons to visit this place, especially if you want to cut off from the mad world and to want to enjoy some quiet.

There are many hotels and resorts than can come to your rescue, but there is one place called Mrugaya Nature Retreat which is not less than a home stay. It is one place that is brimming with information about ecology and is probably one of the few resorts that consciously tries to promote sustainable tourism. Owned and managed by naturalist Parag Rangnekar who hails from Vasco, it was originally his summer retreat.

“My father Ajit Rangnekar built this house as a holiday home. But, for few years now it was not in use. So, we thought of making it an eco resort,” says Parag, who with his wife Shraddha, runs this place. It was interesting to note that Parag’s father was a hunter who got converted into a conservator. This Retreat is one such example where people are struggling to keep their piece of the forest intact. The father-son duo has witnessed the dwindling forest cover and wildlife in surrounding areas over the years and has zealously protected the patch of forest surrounding their home, turning it virtually into an oasis.

This nature retreat is not your conventional resort where you may get all your comforts like air conditioned rooms or television. Parag mentions that the whole idea is to make their guests closer to nature and instead of watching television make an attempt to hear a bird song.

Ideal spot for bird watching outside the room

The package includes stay and breakfast. The food served is mainly vegetarian and it is probably the tastiest food I have eaten. It is homemade, arranged from outside as they do not cook at the property. The resort has three rooms with all basic facilities. Another interesting part of this retreat is that they do not encourage packaged drinking water and provide filtered water which is sourced from the well situated in the property itself.

The scrumptious meal

The resort also follows zero waste policy as they have composting pits for their wet waste and do not encourage plastic waste. The dry waste is collected and sent for recycling.

The highlight of this stay is the nature trail on the forested hillock located around the resort. A visit to this forest with a naturalist like Parag is a treat; he is a bird watcher, expert in dragonflies and damselflies and has also published a book on butterflies. He also shares a lot of information about plants, butterflies, birds, animals, etc. This resort also targets the naturalist or conservationist community. It has lot of scope to document birds, butterflies, mammals, etc. During this trail what intrigued us was the leopard scat which was all over the place. It was quite a positive sign that indicates this forest is a home to leopards. Parag also informed that there are reports of sighting a tiger in the forest area.

Amboli like Goa is a victim of its own projected image. Now there are many builders are eyeing this piece of heaven surrounded by Western Ghats. However, ventures such as this resort are an honest attempt to conserve our forests in our own capacity in order to work towards sustainability. ‘Mrugaya’ which means to hunt in Sanskrit; it could also refer to the hunt of your inner soul. And a place like Mrugaya resort has all the elements to help you do that.

All pics by Arti Das

This article was first published on The Navhind Times Zest BUZZ Weekender on January 9, 2016  

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