A quaint Union Territory with abundant greenery and gorgeous French-colonial houses, Puducherry (erstwhile Pondicherry) is one of the most preferred tourist destinations in India. With a population of approximately 9 Lakh, this gorgeous UT along the Coromandel Coast, has been leading environmental sustainability and protection.
Auroville in Tamil Nadu is approximately 6 km from Puducherry and holds one of the most prestigious forest protection initiatives. Going green is always a great way to save our planet. When you have environmentalists Aviram and Yorit Rozin leading the initiative, the movement becomes an everlasting reality.
Welcome to the world of ecological revival and sustainable living - Sadhana Forest.
All about the Sadhana Forest
Yorit and Aviram Rozin began the Sadhana Forest initiative in 2003. They started with 70 acres of severely degraded land to repair and maintain as part of Auroville. The area was originally a Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF). However, this forest is on the verge of extinction, with only 0.01 per cent of its original covering remaining.
Sadhana Forest is a volunteer-led initiative dedicated to reforestation, water conservation, and food security in dry regions. The project aims to reforest the land with indigenous species while practising water retention and living sustainably. People of all ages participate in the initiative, and you can do too!
The community practices a vegan diet, waste minimisation, biodegradable toiletries, recycling, and greywater. In addition, every year, the forest sees an influx of local and international tourists who contribute their bit towards the preservation of the land and help in increasing the forest cover. More importantly, they have 4 types of waste disposal canisters for cows, dogs, water, and soil!
#Trivia: There are nearly 29,000 Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) plants of close to 160 different indigenous species planted here. From what was an arid, barren, and 100% zero sustainability land is today a thriving forest with abundant supply for the locals and the ones living here.
All huts comprise locally sourced materials such as bamboo and hay. At the same time, the constructions are natural and made of materials found in the area. In addition, there is a 5,000 Watt solar system, 16 dry composting toilets, and a greywater system. The sustainable infrastructure accommodates both local and international visitors.
Location of Sadhana Forest
It is located on 1, Sadhana Forest Road, Auroville in Tamil Nadu. It is approximately 5 to 7 km from Puducherry. Sadhana Forest forms an integral part of the International Community of Auroville.
Importance of Sadhana Forest
Sadhana Forest believes in sharing their resources and have ensured the local communities actively participate in all their initiatives. Due to their unrelenting effort, today the water levels in the underground aquifer have gone up considerably. It has, in turn, resulted in more availability of water for drinking and farming.
You will see several children and young people participate in their ecological restoration and sustainable living programs. They inspire people to share and spread their vision of an environmentally responsible and sustainable way of life and assist in taking urgent steps that make the future of their environment.
Image Gallery of Sadhana Forest Puducherry
Entry fee and Timings of Sadhana Forest
Sadhana Forest welcomes tourists all year round without any entry fee. You can come and visit this gorgeous 70-acre forest area anytime. However, if you plan to stay here, you must communicate with the administrative staff and pay for your stay.
Best Time to Visit Sadhana Forest
Since it is open all year round, you can plan a visit anytime you wish. However, we would strongly advise you to avoid the monsoon season from June to September since it is a coastal area after all. Summers can get sticky and humid. Winter is the best time to enjoy the quietness of the forest, from October to March. However, as volunteers, you are welcome anytime to serve the community.
Things to Do at Sadhana Forest
The tour begins by demonstrating how to use the bio-compost toilets and the water-saving hand washing station. The team's dedication to conserving water and other natural resources is evident in all they do. Their kitchen includes a hand pump for drawing water as well as a water purifying system. The stove they use is a rocket stove, and it consumes 60-80 percent less fuel than ordinary wood stoves. The volunteer-driven bicycles power the blender/mixer.
#Trivia: They have three to four traditional large wood stoves that are an experience of their own.
They use wood ash and coconut fibres to clean the kitchenware that are later disinfected with vinegar.
The volunteers commute by bicycle and do most of their forestry work on a tricycle. They use bio-compost as a fertiliser.
Sadhana Forest is proud to be a zero-waste zone. Instead of "reduce, reuse, recycle," their mindset is "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or go without!"
Sadhana Forest in Puducherry is a vegan paradise. It is a deliberate choice, given that growing food for our omnivorous diet needs five times the amount of water that a vegan diet produces (and 2.5 times more than a vegetarian diet). They do not utilise any animal-based products in their meals, including milk, butter, ghee, curd, and so forth. Instead, they use organic vegetables purchased locally from farms such as Solitude Farms and others.
Having vegan cuisine does not prevent them from serving delectable meals, such as certain Indian sweets made without milk, ghee, or refined sugar. The thali is one of the most incredible dinners you'll ever experience.
Did you know? Not long ago, the coastal stretch from Visakhapatnam south to Tamil Nadu was thickly forested. The woods cut down over time, leaving nothing more than deteriorated thorny thickets. It resulted in a significant drop in the water table over time.
Over 27,000 trees have flourished ever since the project was initiated 15 years ago. The vast majority of these have survived and are growing slowly but steadily.
Sadhana Forest adheres to the "unschooling" ideology, which promotes self-directed learning. Watering the gardens, painting, drawing, cooking, building, playing games, and planting trees are popular activities among students. They have a tiny kitchen where the kids may prepare fruit salads or make chapatis, laddus, and other treats.
The outdoor play area includes tyre swings, a beam balance built of discarded tyres, a hurdle climb, and tin box drums. They also have a large hut to conduct daily meetings and discuss novel ideas and initiatives. As far as electricity is concerned, they are able to charge their mobile devices only once a day, for not more than a couple of hours. This is possible thanks to the seven generators installed in the premises.
Visitors may go for a trip around the forest and view the water conservation initiatives, tree planting, solar system, and houses made from local natural and repurposed materials. They may also have a complimentary vegan dinner and vegan tea and visit the Goshala (cow shed) and the children's playground made of recycled tyres.
Sadhana Forest offers a full tour, a documentary screening, and a vegan meal every Friday for free. This event is free to the public, and no reservations are necessary. At 4:30 PM, a community tour begins, taking visitors through the sustainable facilities and the forest while outlining the project's objective, accomplishments, obstacles, and future goals.
Participants might volunteer to share their knowledge and hold free courses. It might be anything from Mongolian poetry to the construction of solar cookers, depending on the varied skills and interests. On weekdays, you will usually see them huddle in the afternoon around 2 PM.
How to Reach Sadhana Forest
From the Airport: You can take the Perengalathur route 10km southwest of the airport and go to the bus station outside the airport to take the bus to Perengalathur. Once there, request a bus to Pondicherry via Tindivanam.
From the bus stand: Take buses to Pondicherry through Tindivanam that will take you around 3–4 hours.
From the Railway Station: The forest is 10km from the railway station and can be reached with the help of a taxi or a rickshaw.
You can also book a private cab from top car rental companies in Pondicherry to reach the forest easily.
Farther from pollutants and yet not so far from flawless earthly sustenance, the Sadhana Forest in itself is a marvellous initiative. It has already gone global with the green movement touching base in Haiti and Kenya as well. While we bid adieu through this textual tribute to Sadhana Forest, it continues to strive to make life on Earth better, bit by bit, tree by tree.
Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are, in fact, plans to protect man. – Stewart Udall
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