Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary

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December 11th 2007
Published: December 11th 2007
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This is quite simply a transcript from my journal the day we moved from the Rainforest Retreat to Gurukula.

By 8.00 a.m. we'd set off after affectionate 'Goodbyes' to everyone at the Rainforest Retreat. Stop off at Madekeri to photocopy all our documents for the Kerala Police, then....ever onward. The roads were terrible, but the scenery and towns what we had come to expect and enjoy, and we did seem to be descending slightly. Finally, the Keralan border, frontier posts, and all that goes with it, and a flurry of Communist flags. The scenery changed IMMEDIATELY we got through the border, to forests of bamboo. We were straight into National Park, briefly better roads, and apparently a slightly better standard of living.

The road up to Gurukula was....worrying. Finding it was one thing, ascending the single track with sharp descent on one side (MY side...) another. The forest however was so lush - hard to believe that only 3% of what was here 100 years ago still exists, and that the work done at Gurukula does much towards protecting this tiny fragment. Once arrived, we were immediately welcomed to lunch: 2 veg. curries, channa dhal, twice-cooked rice in the Keralan style, curd and poppadums, with yoghourts and mountain honey to follow. Do your own washing up - all very democratic, then down to inspect the simple accommodation. Deliberate shortage of toillets, to encourage you to pee on the flowers and help them grow........

Tour of part of the Sanctuary with Supi in the afternoon - the pictures tell the story - then tea at 5.30 - hunks of watermelon, local oranges, savouries and sweetmeats, and meet everyone. Then, Supi took us up the watertower - one of the magical experiences of my life. The sun slowly set over the Western Ghats, the moon rose as the sky darkened and the stars emerged. Silence fell as the night sky intensified. Mullahs from two distant mosques sang their Call to Prayer, admittedly using a microphone, but still atmospheric. Shooting stars too........

Later again, more wonderful food, fill in forms for the Kerala Police..and so to bed.

I could write about forest walks, about the visit to Crac-a-dawna organic farm, where they grow rich varieties of crop, produce jams and chutneys, cotton yarn which they dye themselves, then make into garments. I could tell you about wildlife safaris, or
Every pot plant.......Every pot plant.......Every pot plant.......'ve ever seen grows lush and wild here
a visit to BASIL, a biodynamic farm near Mysore. Or, if you think it's the sort of holiday that might interest you, you could contact Simon yourself- he's be pleased to talk to you without any possible obligation on your part. He's contactable at And no, he didn't pay me to advertise for him, but we DID have a great time, and he is planning to make this holiday happen again, maybe 2 or 3 times a year, so do get in touch if you're even slightly interested because this glance at rural India was a really special time for me, and I think for the whole group that was with me.

And that really is it. I'm well and truly back now. All I need to do is junk the post viral fatigue which the doctor's just diagnosed................

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Water plantsWater plants
Water plants

Frogs by the score sit on the leaves at night chuntering away to one another
Plenty of thesePlenty of these
Plenty of these

...wherever you look
The strangler figThe strangler fig
The strangler fig

...extends its tendrils both downwards and upwards, eventually killing the host tree beneath, and leaving a strong tracery whicch it's fun to climb
a rat snake...a rat snake...
a rat snake...

...swims in the sun
Keralan farmers....Keralan farmers....
Keralan farmers....

...often sport their communist flag on their land
Preparing chappatisPreparing chappatis
Preparing chappatis

for the supper table

17th December 2007

thank you!
Margaret, I came upon your blog by accident, and was so fascinated that I read all the way through. Thank you for your wonderfully evocative descriptions and your beautiful photos! What an amazing trip it must have been.
28th January 2008

Thank you Jennifer!
Only just read your comments, not having looked at my blog for some time. It WAS wonderful. I don't know if you read the blog because you know India, or because you hope to go, but you can probably tell which places I would recommend. Best wishes, Margaret

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