Posted on February 23, 2021
“We should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together in a higher unity” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The act of creating habitat for the human has always been looked upon as destruction of nature. With instances of cutting down trees to build homes or introducing glass and concrete as an alien element into the earthy surroundings often architects have to accept the challenge of maintaining a balance between Creation and Destruction.
During our travels we have tried to explore some of these unique structures that achieve this balance in an unique way. Subtly blending into their surroundings these spaces have co-existed with nature and yet provided state of art hospitality for the weary traveller.
Goa is perhaps the most visited destination for many. An annual pilgrimage to the goan beaches on new year’s eve drowning in barrels of beer is an offer very few refuse. And the story of beer it is that took us to this hidden gem in South goa, an old portugese heritage house, now re-purposed as a bed & breakfast, The Vivenda Dos Palhacos which was erstwhile the Hayward House – of the Hayward’s 5000 beer fame- perhaps the first beer India tasted.
Situated at a walking distance from the Majorda beach, this century old home is carefully renovated and set in a quiet cul de sac of the south goan majorda village. Managed by british siblings Charlotte and Simon, both born and brought up in India , they are the grand children of Anthony Hayward who set up the first brewery in 1905 at Konnagar , West Bengal. And this legacy of the family is well portrayed in each of the rooms, meticulously thematised on the destinations they have stayed in India.
Vivenda dos Palhacos has three quite distinctive atmospheres. At the front of the house, is a modest Portuguese Mansion, built in 1929. The house has a hall, with two large bedrooms (Konnagar and Alipore) with ensuite bathrooms, a sitting room leading out to a veranda and a large dining room to seat twenty. The older Hindu house, behind, is made from thick rammed earth walls with three double bedrooms (Madras, Ooty & Ballygunge) all with ensuite bathrooms.
At the back of the house is the main garden with a 12m swimming pool [ nicknamed Simon’s folly ] a private dining and The Chummery – a large double room with two verandas. The most recent addition is in the old garage, which is now Darjeeling. It has a mezzanine floor with extra beds and its own garden.
Each room has been meticulously curated to transport you to the destination it depicts. From grand chandeliers of British Bengal to freshness of the south Indian hill-stations, each room is a unique experience.
Curated like the back of a truck, the bar reminisces of the family history , with Bottles of Hayward 5000 adding to the decor. We also had the fortune of meeting two resident basset hounds, Gigolo and Totty who are sadly no more in 2021 😦
“An important aspect in my design is to root the building in its context, allowing users to identify with the character of its space, materials or technology used. We are humans after all, and our connect with architecture depends a great deal on our past experiences.” – Architect Dean D’Cruz
Kanha National Park is possibly one of the most visited Tiger reserves in the country and unsurprisingly the area around the entry gates are filled with hotels and resorts of a wide price range. But 30 minutes away from the Khatia gate of the reserve , tucked away in the forested landscape adjoining the buffer zone is a quaint tribal hamlet in the Narna Village. Designed by Architect Dean D’Cruz [ Mozaic architects ] the architecture of Kanha Earth Lodge has been inspired by the stunning Gond tribal villages which are situated on the fringes of Kanha, making it blend effortlessly with the forest and rural architecture.
As one approaches the Lodge through the Narna village , one gets transported to an alien Greek environment, streets lined by huts painted with dominant shades of Blue and White.
The white colour is basically limestone mixed with water, and the blue colour is achieved by mixing distemper powder with colouring agents, along with the limestone paste and water; both of which are easily available in the local market. The primary reasons for adopting these colours is the ease of availability in the market, and them being cost effective. The locals also believe that the white colour used in the bottom half of the walls, allows them to easily detect and spot the movement of snakes or dangerous insects even at night, as the white background of the walls helps them stand out.
The 12 luxury bungalows of the Lodge with large open verandas however flaunt a shade of yellow mud-plaster and offer environmentally sensitive, low-impact accommodation through their design and use of local stone and waste wood. The wooden structure for the bungalows again draw inspiration from the Gond tribal hamlets. With rough -hewn timber beams, wooden slates acting as rafters for the terracotta tiled roofs , these luxury cottages are fitted with modern amenities yet co-exists with several species of mammals and birds in a natural symbiotic relationship.
The Lodge’s kitchens serve up a variety of cuisines cooked from locally produced vegetables at their urban farm and sourced from nearby villages. The beautifully forested setting also allows for open -air dining and barbeque options . A seasonal nallah next to the Swimming pool and a natural wetland created for rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge in this 16 acre property acts as a much needed watersource for the jungle inhabitants. Only 2% of the land has built structures and the the remaining property has been a testament for re-forestation .
Adding to his portfolio of sensitive sustainable architecture, this hospitality property adjoining the Pench National park is a one of a kind jungle retreat built by Architect Dean D’Cruz. Set in an offbeat spot of the national park, the resort is packed with a pleasant aura, well-furnished cottages, and treehouses up on the Mahua trees offering resplendent sights of the area. It is situated in a part of the Sarahiri village which falls close to the Karmajhiri gate. Pench Tree Lodge is the perfect rescue spot when a wildlife adventure is on one’s mind. Taking up some share of beauty from the national park, the resort offers an area of 39 acres to the travellers for exploring and attaching their soul to nature and the wild. The twelve elegant tree houses and cottages. are embellished with unique safari style furniture and exquisite local crafts in an effort to keep the carbon foot print to the bare minimum.
Apart from being nestled in nature the architectural forms are beautifully crafted taking into consideration the natural elements. With stone walls bermed on the south side of the cottages, with services like the washrooms tucked in, it provides much needed coolness from the harsh summer sun . This provides an opportunity to open up the cottages on the other side onto a verandah, embracing the nature outside. The double height cottages also enclose an attic space, giving a private enclosure for the effervescent teens of a family to have some private space of their own.
The Tree-houses provide a completely different experience. Hoisted on wooden columns , without adding stress to the tress they are built around, the tree houses offer a good vantage point to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding forests. Large French windows allow for an uninterrupted view of the deciduous forest and grassland and let you observe the multitude of birds, butterflies and the wild animals at the lodge. Each of the treehouses are at a significant distance from each other. Covered by the canopy of the tree, the shimmer of sunlight through the leaves presents a soothing ambience in this quaint recluse.
The dining hall is the main anchor of the property. Erstwhile a water tank, the architect smartly used the structure to construct a communal space around it abutted by a beautiful swimming pool. The amalgamation of the building techniques for the tree houses and the cottages create interesting spaces , including a library and a games room, all built with environmentally sensitive, low-impact materials.
Located in the timber merchant’s village of Pragpur in Kangra district, this 100+ year old property by Vallari Hotels is a must visit for the lovers of solitude and slow travel. Inherently housing artefacts and vintage reminisce of an era gone by, the Chateau Garli presents the Sud’s vision of heritage luxury for the guests here. Beautifully redecorated and rebuilt to sustain the perils of time, the property has two sections for you to choose from for your stay.
Restored back to life by Yatish Sud and run by his children Amish and Tarini, Chateau Garli is the perfect example of luxury – meets – heritage and offers pristine living under the foothills of the Dhauladhar range. Easily reachable from Chandigarh/Dharamshala, a stay here is sure to uplift your interest in the management of a heritage property in a hamlet. You can book the property via Vallari Hotels or on OTAs.
Kaav, originating from the word ‘Kaavu’, meaning sacred groves is the heart of this beautiful, compavt jungle lodge in Kabini in Karnataka. Built with love by Stapati Architects from Kerala, Kaav Safari Lodge is the perfect place for wildlife lovers who want to experience luxury in the jungle, while staying close to the safari gates of Nagarhole National Park.
Tadoba is a Tiger hotspot and Red Earth Resorts have built a stunning property near the Zari gate in Pimpalkut here. A sprawling green facade welcomes you as you walk into a reception that instantly transports you to a tasteful, vintage style, open welcome area. With 12 secluded, spacious cottages the property screams for attention due to its entwined design with nature. Rajasthani doors open up to large cottages, each with its own plunge pool under the green shade of bamboo. The open air showers are testament to their love for mingling with nature while enjoying a quiet jungle holiday.
Star of the property is the massive crescent pool overlooking the large dining hall. The design gets the guest’s ask for a quiet, private and peaceful stay in the jungles.
We hope you liked this list of properties that will help you appreciate the science and art of design. If you happen to visit any of the above properties, we would love to hear your experience. Happy Architecture travel to you all 🙂
Disclaimer: We don’t have any affiliation with any of the properties listed in this article. If you click on any linkas and make a booking, we will not earn anything from it. We were hosted by some of the resorts however our experience and recommendations are unbiased and thoughts are our own.
Category: Hotels & Resorts, India, Travel Recommendations, Wildlife Tagged: architecture hospitality, best wildlife resorts india, chateau garli, kaav safari lodge, kabini tiger reserve, kanha earth lodge, kanha national park, pench national park, pench tree lodge, pugdundee safaris, tadoba andhari tiger reserve, tadoba hotels, vivenda dos palhacos, wildlife resorts