Call of the Wild- The New Indian Express

Call of the Wild- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

It is wild out there, but there are times when the boundaries seem to blur between the indoors and the outdoors. During the day, the tall grasses and trees surrounding an ethnically stylish collection of forest villas and pool residences come alive with birdsong. Tipai by Wildlife Luxuries, nestled amid the virgin forests of Tipeshwar Wildlife Reserve, is approximately a three-hour drive from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The 34 acres of curated wilderness represents the eco-friendly tourism trend being popularised by sustainability-conscious entrepreneurs like Tipai owner Keyur Joshi, the co-founder and COO of MakeMyTrip, India’s most popular e-travel platform. Tipai was built using the principles of extreme localisation and customisation in construction techniques and even fabrics. Earth is the leitmotif of the resort, whose 11 forest villas and four pool residences represent its aesthetics.

Large swallow nest lamps suspended from cross-beamed ceilings, experimental Chandigarh chairs set at a large dining table, tiled cool floors and terracotta art and wooden decks that sit elegantly beside wild marshland capture the ethnic vibe of the place. The roofs of the spacious rooms have vaulted ceilings, which elevate a sense of openness. Colourful Indian woolen dhurries brighten the floors. The sheer curtains with leafy motifs pay homage to indigenous sensibilities: the region has local artisans who are adept at a unique leaf block-printing method and hand-printing technique. Interior designer Ariane Thakore Ginwala hired them to make the furnishings using Magankhadi textiles,a special fabric made from pure, organic cotton cultivated in Wardha.

The resort has used recycled furniture for the restaurant and bedrooms. The regional stamp is evident everywhere: local leaves, dried, pressed and framed on the walls; three-tiered bedside lamps resembling a flower on a twisted metal stem; and the solid dark wood beds with rattan backs. Ginwala chose the local technique of using rammed earth to construct the living spaces. She got on board Bengaluru-based expert Ata Ur Rahman as a consultant to train the engineers and locals to make the construction material. The team worked closely with the Centre of Science for Villages in Wardha to research the possibilities of low-impact construction. Potters were employed to build the terracotta roofs. The property is also big on water harvesting, and each villa has its own rainwater tank.

Tipai has an osmotic relationship with nature, and at times the guest can be forgiven for wondering whether they are indoors or outdoors. The dense thickets and little water bodies partially hidden by ochre green wild grass look like they have been there forever. When the team, however, scouted the location, it had only about 2,000 teak trees, which incidentally do not attract birds. “We were already part of the jungle, so the ideal thing was to extend it to the property,” she says. Parag, a permaculturist, was brought in to take stock of the situation. Over five years, more than 300 species of shrubs and trees were planted in and around the resort, which today attract a plethora of birds and deer. The scenery changes with seasons, as the palaash trees bloom in summers while the rains paint the area lush green and winters bring lighter shades. The celebration of the forest, the land and its people make Tipai a thriving biodiversity getaway.

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