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Saturday, 10 February 2024 | Sharmila Chand


34-acre luxury nature resort on the fringes of Tipeshwar forest in Nagpur is a celebration of low-impact construction finds Sharmila Chand  

A comfortable three hour drive from Nagpur and I was in front of the stunning vista of tall trees enveloping forest villas. This is 'Tipai by Wildlife Luxuries', nestled amid the virgin forests of Tipeshwar Wildlife Reserve. Spanning in 34 acres, the resort sets an example of ultimate luxury blending seamlessly with eco-friendly measures.

An initiative of sustainability-conscious entrepreneur, Keyur Joshi, the co-founder and COO of MakeMyTrip, Tipai has been built with minimal impact on fragile ecosystems. Each of the 11 forest villas and four pool residences speak a story of unique aesthetics. "Core to the design of Wildlife Luxuries is localisation, whether it was the techniques used, the material that was built with, or the people who contributed to the building process-they were all of this land," tells Joshi, with a well deserved sense of pride. "Working closely with the Institute of Village Sciences in Wardha, located 80 kms from the site, the architects researched various possibilities of low-impact construction. Instead of importing labour, the neighbouring village folk were trained in rammed earth construction and stone masonry. The vaulted roofs were made of terracotta tiles made by local potters. Working with a permaculturist, the land was rejuvenated with natural vegetation, strategically located water bodies and a robust rainwater harvesting system to reduce the impact on fragile ecosystems."

Décor & Design

I am truly fascinated by a stunning blend of classical aesthetics and modern functionality that redefines luxury and eco-tourism. Symbolic of sustainability, every corner exudes an ethos of unparalleled craftsmanship and finesse. Whether it's the large swallow nest lamps hanging from cross-beamed ceilings, or experimental Chandigarh chairs set at a large dining table, tiled floorings, terracotta art and wooden decks; local leaves, dried, pressed and framed on the walls; one gets the strong ethnic vibe of the place.

Enter your room and you will notice recycled furniture and how painstakingly the vaulted ceilings have been made. The colorful Indian durries lend an ambiance of cheer, warmth and sophistication. The sheer curtains with leafy motifs pay homage to the region's sensibilities as these represent the local unique leaf block-printing method and hand-printing technique. From the special packages of tea to the toiletries, a standout feature is the meticulously curated every detail for Tipai exclusively, by small boutique brands who share the brand's values for sustainability, quality and fairness.

Says Ariane Thakore Ginwala, the principal designer for Tipai, "We've tried to retain the land as much as possible and reduce the use of concrete to make our land better. By planting trees and incorporating biomass in the process, we've made our soil richer. Sustainable, conscious luxury is the new travel. The true essence of luxury lies in handcrafted products, made slowly and with intention. We spent a lot of time selecting responsible brands to stay true to our vision. As you can see, our basins are handmade, the small batches of chocolates are from homegrown brands and so on."

An Ode To Nature

The celebration of the forest, the land and its people make Tipai a thriving biodiversity getaway. Right from safari visits to the forest, to identifying birds or picking the ingredients from the resort farm for your meal, every activity has an osmotic relationship with nature.

Over five years, more than 300 species of shrubs and trees have been planted in and around the resort, which today attract a plethora of birds and deer.

"In the summer the Palash trees bloom defying the arid heat, then rains make Tipai a blooming lush green, that turns a lighter shade as winter falls. The scenery changes dramatically across the seasons, and so does the produce from our food forest - nourishing both humans and animals that call this quiet wildscape home. Frequent visits by deer and a surge in the variety of birds and insects tells us we are doing something right," adds Joshi with a smile.

The Food At Tipai

Made with produce from the kitchen garden and organic farms within the region, F&B at Tipai is a true celebration of this land. The food is hyperlocal, from the produce to the flavours and those who grow, cook and craft this experience -they are all of this land. It is heartening to see that at the heart of the three restaurants is a deep desire to empower women; not just through employment, but by helping them see the beauty and power of the everyday things they do. The chutney they grind on a sil batta, the flatbreads they cook on coals, the instinctive understanding of flavour - the kitchen at 'Palaash', dinner only restaurant, is almost entirely run by women. While you savour the flavours of regional cuisines from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh at Palaash, the menus at 'Perch' and 'Wadi' travel the world.

Sipping tea under a gazebo, enjoying picnic by the river, indulging in sundowners by your private plunge pool, all this and a lot more along the fringes of a dense forest known for its Bengal tigers; make Tipai a destination worthy of your bucking list. While there is plenty to do here, you also have an opportunity to set aside the itinerary, just hit the pause button and do nothing.

— Writer is an independent journalist who writes on travel, food and lifestyle

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