An evening full of joy, music and tasty food

As the new year started, it was time to have a joyful get together with all the team members of Uravu Eco Links and their families. It was a good opportunity as well, to welcome new members of our team. Our guests from Spain and Switzerland also joined us for this occasion to share some good times.

Do you like music? Because we do! This is why we started the evening with a game called “musical chair”. In case you don’t know the game: People had to run around a circle of chairs and music was playing in the background. As soon as the music stopped, you had to sit down on one of the chairs. However, there weren’t enough chairs for everybody and if you weren’t fast enough and could not sit down, you were disqualified. For each round one or two chairs were removed until there was only one chair left. The children outplayed all of the adults during this game!

And because we like music very much, the evening went on with musical performances by our team members as well as by our guests. So, we had the pleasure to listen to Malayalam film songs, Hindi classics and Spanish and Swiss German folk songs. Our team members Snehal and Elby were enchanting us with their beautiful voices, as young Shiva and Lenny played the guitar. Even our MD and our Finance Manager converted their “dialogues” into music. 😊

Our dinner was cooked and prepared by some families from the village and was, of course, very tasty. The Swiss guests surprised us with two yummy Swiss dishes cooked by them. “Rösti” was made of grated and fried potatoes and “Zücher Geschnetzeltes” contained sliced meat strips and mushrooms in a creamy sauce.

It was a wonderful get together which was enjoyed by the Uravu Eco Links team and by our guests alike.

Thrikkaipetta village and plantation walk

Palm trees, singing birds, rice fields, fruit and spice plantations, smiling villagers and a lot of new information about the rural life of an Indian village. This is what you can expect when participating in a village tour of Thrikkaipetta.

One of our local guides will pick you up and take you on a tour through the picturesque and green countryside of Thrikkaipetta. It is the ideal tour to discover the local flora and fauna, as well as getting some insights in the local farming practices.

After walking some time towards the Uravu bamboo workshop, you will arrive in front of a stunning view on rice fields and palm trees on your right and some Adivasi habitations on your left. The guide will tell you some stories about the different communities living here.

Then you get to cross the rice fields in order to reach the plantations. Usually, farmers plant one kind of tree per plantation. However, in Wayanad you can find all kind of plants in the plantations, as the flora in this region is very diversified. In the plantations you will come across coffee, pepper and betelnut trees, wild pineapple plants, banana and grapefruit trees, bamboos, coconut and rubber trees, sugarcanes, and much more. The diversity of the flora that you will encounter is definitively worth the visit. Of course, it is possible to try all the spices and the fruits right from the trees.

During the tour, you will also have the opportunity to meet some of the farmers, who will show you their cows and their farmyard. The villagers are very welcoming and will be happy to explain what they do.

We are keen to welcome you in our village and hope you will enjoy your stay with us!

 

Birdwatching Tour – Interview with N.V. Krishnan

Interview with N.V. Krishnan, professional wildlife photographer and birdwatcher

 

Did you know that Wayanad is home to more than 350 bird species? At the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort the preservation of Wayanad’s exceptional biodiversity and wildlife is very important. This is why we are a bird and butterfly-friendly space.

Whether you are an experienced birdwatcher or a first-timer, this is an ideal place to enjoy our “Birdwatching Tour” with our local naturalist guide, N.V. Krishnan. He will tell you everything you need to know about the local birds and will show you both the birds themselves and his stunning photographs.

To understand a little bit more about the situation of the birds in Thrikkaipetta village and how N.V. Krishnan became passionate about them, we decided to interview him.

 

  • When did you first become interested in birdwatching and why?

I started photography and birdwatching 22 years ago, and at the same time I also started to try to protect the birds and their habitats.

 I became interested in them because they help me. They eat the insects in my garden and thanks to them I do not need to use any pesticides or other chemicals to keep my fruits and vegetables healthy. Furthermore, they are a really important component of the food chain.

 

  • Where are you located and which species do you spend most time observing?

I am located in Thrikkaipetta village – to reach my house you have to walk for about 10 minutes through the paddy (rice) fields, as there is no road. This makes my place really quiet and a perfect place to observe nature and the birds.

 In Thrikkaipetta, there are about 146 bird species; 40 of them have migrated from within India itself and five species from other countries, such as Mongolia. Most of the time, when I go out birdwatching, I am able to see over 100 species in one day. The most common species you can see here are Bulbuls, Woodpeckers, Barbets, Vernal Hanging Parrots, Drongos, Eagles, Kites, Ducks and Malabar Grey Hornbills.

 

  • What is the current situation of the birds in the village in terms of numbers and variety of species?

The number of birds is increasing; however, the number of species is decreasing. This is mainly due to air and water pollution, deforestation and usage of pesticides for farming.

 

  • Which bird is your favourite? Why?

 They are all my favourites, but if I had to pick one I would say the Spot-billed Duck. In 1992 there were only two of them but now Thrikkaipetta hosts more than 600 Spot-billed Ducks. Here again, this rapid increase is due to climate change.

 

  • What rare bird would you like to see the most? Why?

I would say the Amur Falcon, because I have only seen it once here and that was 2 years ago. I would love to see it again.

 

  • Where is the best place you’ve been to for birdwatching?

Here, in my garden and in the forest on the Mannikunnumala(the mountain behind the village).

 

  • What unusual things have you done or places have you gone to see birds?

 I spotted for the first time in Kerala the Bonelli’s Eagle at breeding time. This was on the Mannikunnumala. When I spotted him, I had built a hide on a tree at around 60 feet from the ground. For 24 days in a row, I woke up at 5.30 am, hiked 2 hours through the jungle to reach my hiding spot and observed this beautiful bird. The first feeding took place at around 8 am and that is why I had to get there early. I would only go back home at the end of the day at around 8 pm.

Otherwise, I go up there at least once a week to observe the wildlife and take pictures.

 

  • What equipment do you use?

I use binoculars, my digital camera and a tripod.

 

  • Can you tell me about your famous “sniper” camera

Sure, it is a Pentax Sportmatic with a 300 mm fixed telephoto lens and it is still fully functional. It is a really old model; as you can see, the lens was made in the USSR. I am really proud of this camera because I have won 26 national awards with it. I used to go to Kalpetta (the closest town) to a studio where I would do the printing myself.

 Unfortunately, I had to change to a digital camera because it is not possible to find the films for it any more (here in Wayanad).

 

  • Tell me about your initiatives to protect the birds 

I mainly use my photographs, slide shows and also the birdwatching tours to raise people’s awareness not only about the extraordinary biodiversity of this place, but also its fragility.

 

  • How can the average person or tourist best help the birds?

 To help the birds, people should plant more fruit trees or bushes to provide the birds with food. They should also take care of the freshwater sources as they are often contaminated with plastic or chemicals.

 A really sad example I can give you is that we used to have a Kingfisher family nesting in my garden. However, one day they caught a crab from the local stream, but the pesticide used by a farmer had contaminated this crab, thus the whole family of Kingfishers was wiped out. The same happens with the local fish – it is the whole food chain that is contaminated.

 

  • Can you observe the impact of climate change on the local birds?

Yes of course. Firstly, as I already told you, the number of species is decreasing but the number of birds is increasing, meaning that only the “fittest” survive and there is a loss of biodiversity.

Secondly, birds usually lay their eggs at a fixed time every year. With climate change, it is getting too hot for certain birds to lay their eggs, so they experience late breeding. For instance, now in June, it is on average 10 degrees hotter than what it used to be, so some birds that should have finished breeding by April still haven’t finished yet.

So yes, I am really troubled by all these changes and hope we can do something about it; otherwise, the biodiversity will be badly affected.

 

  • Thanks a lot for your time and all your answers

 Thank you!

 

Clean-Up Day – 4 April 2019

On 4 April 2019, Uravu Eco Links organised a Clean-Up Day in the streets surrounding our office in Thrikkaipetta, Wayanad. The main objective of this special day was to raise awareness among the local community that the waste problem can be solved.

The waste that was collected on 4 April included rubbish lying on the streetsand debris from the aftermathof the floods that devastated Kerala in 2018. After the floods, waste was collected and piled up at the sides of the streets. Most of the bags of waste were not properly separated, so our team had to open them all to checkthe contents.

Thanks to the twelve members of our team and the three locals who joined the effort, this event was a true success.

About 8,000 litres of waste were collected, which was then sorted into 80 bags:

  • 62 bags of PLASTIC
  • 3 bags of PAPER
  • 1 bag of LIGHT BULBS AND ELECTRONICS
  • 6 bags of GLASS
  • 1 bag of METAL
  • 2 bags of LEATHER / SHOES
  • 7 bags of other waste.

The most common types of waste collected were plastic bottles, candy wrappers, decomposed plastic and shoes.

Some more unusual waste items were light bulbs, a helmet, toys, baby nappies and food waste.

We fervently hope that this story will inspire you to take action in order to make our world a cleaner place!

In the name of Uravu Eco Links we would like to thank everyone who participated or followed this event for the great day and for their valuable support!

 

 

Sanskrit & Yoga Week

From 25 January to 3 February 2019, we had the pleasure of welcoming a group of Swiss yoga teachers and an Indologist and Sanskrit teacher to the Uravu Bamboo Grove resort.

“Yoga & Bhoga” was their theme for these ten days of mindfulness activities. The participants benefited from being in tranquil surroundings rich in natural beauty. In this idyllic environment the group was able to fully focus on yoga and the improvement of their Sanskrit knowledge.

Their typical day started with meditation and yoga in the morning, followed by a Sanskrit class until lunchtime, and a philosophy class after dinner. In addition, numerous activities were planned, tailored to the group’s needs and wishes. These activities allowed the group to explore the culture of the Uravu Bamboo Village and to connect with the local community in order to understand their way of life.

The activities included:

  • Village walk
  • Craft and dance classes
  • Hatha yoga class
  • Ayurvedic treatment
  • Bird watching
  • Temple ceremony
  • Tea plantation visit
  • Karapura dam visit
  • A day visiting the famous sights of the region (Eddekal Caves, Jain Temple, Phantom Rock, Heritage Museum, waterfalls)

Among the highlights of this week was the visit to Sreelakshmi School where students and our Swiss group were able to demonstrate some Yoga Asanas (postures) to each other. The philosophical lecture given by Swamini Sivanda Puri, followed by a traditional dinner served on banana leaves was also very much appreciated by the group. Finally, the closing ceremony, organised in the Uravu Community Center for and with the local community, which starred the Wayanad Nattukoottam, a band from Wayanad playing traditional songs, dances by local women (as well as one Swiss participant), and finally some Swiss traditional songs were “the cherry on the cake”.

We are really pleased and grateful to have had the opportunity to host this wonderful group for such a special week. We hope you too will be motivated to learn or improve your yoga, to relax and rejuvenate in the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort.

 

Art Camp in the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort and Biennale in Kochi

One of the main missions of the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort is to help to share the revenues from tourism with the local community. In addition, we support people willing to develop news ideas and projects. In 2018, we started helping local artists to promote their art and we developed an Art Gallery Tour.

Gaining access to the art market is not a piece of cake when you are living in a remote village in South India. Nonetheless, given its calm environment, surrounded by nature, we believe that the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort is an ideal place for encouraging creativity.

For three days, from 22 to 24 December 2018, the three local artists K.P. Deepa, Praseetha Biju and E.C. Sadanand, gathered in the resort. From early morning until there was no longer enough light to see their paintbrushes, they worked, interacted, shared and studied their different styles. Members of the public were welcome to come and observe the artists during the creation process. At the end of the camp, the artworks were exhibited in the resort and you can still come and see them. We had the opportunity to film and interview the artists during the art camp.

The result was a short documentary which you can watch here:

After the positive experience of the art camp in the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort, our three artists, accompanied by Biju, and three members of Uravu Eco Links (UEL) visited the Kochi Muziri Biennale for two days.

The Kochi Muziri Biennale is the biggest contemporary art exhibition and festival in South Asia. It showcases mainly Indian, but also international artists working with numerous media such as painting, sculpture, performance art and new media techniques. Kochi and Muziri — the ancient harbour of Kochi — have a long tradition of being places where exchange and interaction between different cultures can take place. It is this spirit and legacy that the Kochi Muziri Biennale wishes to revive. This Biennale hosted not only exhibitions but also talks, presentations, screenings, workshops, live music and educational activities. 

Our artists and the UEL team found their visit to the Biennale an amazing experience, which has inspired them with ideas for future projects.

This art camp, as well as the visit to the Biennale in Kochi, would not have been possible without the help of a generous patron whom we would like to thank here.

The enthusiasm emanated by the artists during the workshop in the Uravu Bamboo Grove resort and the visit to the Art Biennale in Kochi has started us thinking about the next steps. News will be shared shortly. Keep yourself posted by subscribing to our newsletter, or follow us on our social media.

 



Facebook page of Uravu Bamboo Grove

Instagram of Uravu Eco Links

Art Camp in the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort

 

Visit of the art Biennale in Kochi

 

Art Gallery Tour in the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort

Meet the local artists with Uravu Bamboo Grove

If you are interested in meeting and finding out more about the local artists in the Uravu Bamboo Village Thrikkaipetta, why not join an Art Gallery Tour?

One of our English-speaking local guides, who is an artist himself, will accompany you to the studios where the artists work. You will have the opportunity to see the artists at work, to interact with them and, if you are interested, to buy some of their artwork. There is no obligation to purchase. If you would like more insight into the local art scene, please get in touch with us.

A potter and his amily – The story of the earthen tableware in the Uravu Bamboo Grove

Where innovative design meets sustainability: This is our motto at Uravu Eco Links. It is also the reason we put so much effort into the small details, such as the plates on which our guests are served their meals.

Providing delicious local meals that also benefit the community

Since the opening of the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort, the meals have been cooked by women and men from families living in the village. You can taste variations of the traditional Keralan cuisine, and our talented cooks are happy to tailor the menus according to our guests’ preferences (i.e. vegetarian or Ayurvedic diet). We provide breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner upon request.

This system offers an additional income to the families involved in the food preparation and consequently, more inhabitants of the village benefit from tourism.

Our dishware from design to crafting

But we wanted to offer a more authentic and exclusive dining experience to our guests combined with support for a local family. In addition to sustainability and community involvement, we put a strong emphasis on elegant and innovative design in the Uravu Bamboo Grove. The resort’s cottages are the result of cooperation between international and local teams of architects and engineers. Our furniture is locally made in the handicraft workshop of the NGO Uravu. It was jointly designed by the Uravu Bamboo Grove’s architect Juerg Grunder, from INCH architects + planners, and Uravu’s artists and artisans, Lenin and Rakesh.

This led to the idea of creating sustainable locally-made dishware, with an elegant design, to serve meals to our guests. The design was made by Gaya Ganesh, a recent graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Chennai. She looked for a potter in the region and developed the design patterns for the different plates and pots. Her aim was to respect the intrinsic spirit of the Uravu Bamboo Grove while producing an innovative locally-made product with natural materials.

drawings of Gaya, a graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Chennai

Drawings of Gaya, a graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Chennai

A potter and his family, affected by the floods

In order to realise the design, we needed someone to craft the different plates and pots that Gaya had designed. Before starting on the designs, Gaya had looked for a local, traditional potter. She discussed the designs with him and he made some prototypes, which were further elaborated.

We had the chance to meet Mr Narayanan and his family, who live near the Uravu Bamboo Grove. They make their living from pottery. The family skills of pottery-making are passed down from generation to generation. This family had been severely hit by the floods during the last monsoon and were struggling to find the necessary funds to repair their house, which had been inundated. Their story touched us and they have the skill set needed to produce our pots and plates. During our visit to their home we were able to watch the making of one of our pots. You can see the beautiful craftsmanship of the potter in the video.

 

You can gain a deeper insight into our community by visiting us

At Uravu Eco Links, sustainable products with an innovative design are important to us, even the smallest details. We lay emphasis on the fact that the plates on which we serve our local meals to our guests respect this spirit.

By the way, we are planning to offer our guests the chance to visit the potter, as well as to watch a demonstration of his skills. Would you be interested in such an experience? And what about supporting his work by buying one of his products? Let us know by contacting us by mail or via our social media channels.

Facebook page of Uravu Bamboo GroveInstagram of Uravu Eco Links

 

 

Successful collaboration with the HES-SO Valais-Wallis

Since 2015 Uravu Eco Links collaborates with the Swiss University of Applied Sciences – HES-SO Valais-Wallis in Sierre, Switzerland. As from then onwards, every year a Swiss tourism management student is given the chance, to put the learned skills into practice during their five months internship here in Wayanad. The interns help actively in the development of the Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort, support the marketing and communication section and Uravu’s Bamboo Village activities. The collaboration with the Swiss University HES-SO is much appreciated and we are happy to read about the project on their website.

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CIPRA Solidarity Award 2018 for Sustainable Tourism

The Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort in Wayanad received the CIPRA Solidarity Award 2018 for Sustainable Tourism!

 

For the third time CIPRA Switzerland has awarded three projects for sustainable tourism in mountain regions. The Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort, an eco-friendly community tourism project managed by Uravu Eco Links, did win the CIPRA Solidarity Award 2018. Continue reading