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In the cradle of nature

Christine Machado | NT BUZZ

For most Goans, Belgaum is almost second home. In fact come holiday season, it’s not uncommon to see just as many cars bearing a Goa registered number as there are Karnataka, on Belgaum roads.

Attractive shopping options and pleasant weather apart, away from all the maddening hustle and bustle, lies a hidden gem – a haven of green – a breath of fresh air coming in from the dust laden city scapes.

Indeed, it is quite difficult to believe that the land where Sankalp Bhoomi – The Farm Resort (which opened about four years back) now stands, was formerly a stone quarry with little to no vegetation, negligible soil and destroyed water flow. Step into the premises and greenery greets you from every direction coupled with a noisy welcome from the many species residing on site – hens, cocks, ducks, peahen, turtles, rabbits, a horse and many other feathered friends.

One refreshing drink of kokum later – a pre cursor to the good things to follow, you are shown to your cottage. The resort at present consists of 10 eco friendly cottages constructed using discarded materials from other construction sites be it the stones, wood and even the tiles. One can choose from options like Pond, a waterfront cottage; Wooden, styled like a tree house also overlooking the pond; and Kuttir, a Goan styled cottage with a hay roof. Best leave your fears of all things creepy and crawly aside though, as you’re sure to have quite a few encounters with these.

Sanjay Kulkarni, the man behind this eco-friendly project discloses that apart from the attempt to revive nature, the resort also employs the same people who used to work in the quarry previously.

And while one can quite happily idle the time away just staring at the blue skies and green all around from the comfort of the hammocks or swings, or befriending the many animal folk , there’s tons of options to keep you occupied, leaving you in quite a fix as to what to begin with first. Get reacquainted with the joys of cycling, enjoy a game of cricket, football or badminton or learn to skip again. For kids there’s also a couple of push scooters. Cool off in the swimming pool (once you’re sure that it’s been cleaned). If you’re not in the mood for all those high activity games, you could try out a game of carom or chess. And that’s just the games.

You can also take a ride in a tractor or a tonga. If you’re the type that’s not into using animals for entertainment purposes, you can try out kayaking. Be prepared for aching muscles post this especially if you’re a complete novice.

The more artistically inclined can opt for a pottery class. But will you be able to proudly say that you can make a clay pot or vase after this? No. But you do get a chance to get your hands dirty, get a feel of the clay shaping up and learn the basics. Best part, you get to take home the piece you helped create. Of course this piece is not fired in the kiln, so at the most this makes for a decorative piece. However as these articles needs to be left to dry for a few days to harden, if you’re on a really short trip, it’s best that you don’t risk taking it home and damaging it in the process.

One can also opt for a steam bath, face pack, full body massage and a few other options at the spa, but these should be requested a day in advance.

A lovely surprise was a manmade waterfall in a scenic corner of the resort. You can hop down and under the waterfall and strike some moves (careful though, you don’t want to slip) to the beats of some pumping dance music.

It’s no surprise that given your busy activity-filled day you will build up quite an appetite and will not be disappointed with the delicious food on offer. Even the most fussiest eater will be going back for seconds. The highlights of what was sampled included breakfast items like a cucumber pancake to be eaten with white butter, a brinjal pancake, mini idlis, and hands-down, the best lemongrass tea that you will sip on.

The best experience, however, has to be the opportunity to gaze up at a clear star-lit sky, something that is becoming less and less possible to do in the cities. Indeed, nothing quite beats that peaceful and wonder filled feeling you get.

It is quite possible that by the end of the stay, with plenty of potential social media viral pictures in your kitty, you may not have managed to experience all that this wonderful place has to offer or indeed even explored half of this paradise.

What is a surety though is that you are definitely going to want to return. And there’s even more to look forward to in the near future. Kulkarni reveals that another two cottages are yet to be built. Business teams can also hold conferences and events here with a lovely hall adorned with cheerful flowers all around also coming up. Taking a cue from the Earth Hour concept, Kulkarni is looking at having a daily half-hour of ‘lights out’. “All the lights will be switched off and the people can then gather around the fireplace for a programme. Given the tendency of temperatures to drop especially at night, having a fire will also provide some much needed warmth,” says Kulkarni, who incidentally is no stranger to Goa, having done his early schooling in Goa. “Hopefully other places like Goa too can take inspiration from this and do something similar to revive nature,” he says.

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