Banasura Earth resort
Thu, June 17 2009 02:26 PM
Earthen Buildings – Earthen Buildings are a venerable tradition dating back to 2000 B.C., with the oldest surviving specimens found in the Middle East (ancient Mesopotamia) and South America. Using little more than the earth beneath their feet, people have created structures remarkable for their sturdiness, inventiveness, and beauty. Mesopotamians were masters of construction using bricks made of mud, their one and the only abundant building material. Brick making was a major Mesopotamian industry, especially in areas where wood was in short supply and stone was non-existent.
Though mud is usually considered a primitive building material, it is estimated that half of the global population still lives and works in earthen buildings. Today, when modern structures depend so much on products that add to the green house woes, the use of mud in architecture makes a lot of sense, both economically and environmentally. Earthen buildings occupy a special place in humanity’s cultural consciousness and encourage a more intimate relationship between a community and the Earth.
The resort - It is spread over forty acres of land and has 31 independent luxury villas and rooms, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a banquet hall that can seat 75 persons, coffee shop, well-maintained gardens, shuttle court and children’s play ground. It also has a log hut,2 deluxe rooms and 4 twin cottages.
How to reach -
Road - By NH 212 from Mysore and NH 17 from Calicut
Nearest Railhead - Calicut CLT (125 km away)
Airport- Calicut International
Banasura Hill Resort,
Kerala 670 731, INDIA
Ph: +91 4935 277900 to 04
Photos : Amit Sahana
'Living in a mud pot'
inside Asia’s largest 'earth' resort
Making a two storied mega structure with 20 rooms and spacious corridors, using only clay? This idea won’t easily be digested by many. But now you have to believe it. Read the story that uncovers the wonder behind Banasura Hill Resort.
It was already dark, when we started to climb a small hill. Niranjan, the guide cum driver of the resort, joined us on the main highway. From then on we just needed to follow his Mahindra Major jeep. The 2.5 km road to the resort was under construction, but fortunately, we didn't experience any back-breaking motions.
' Darkness bounded the entire area, and the few dim lights coming from some unknown source were not good enough to give a clear picture of the surroundings. The entire ambiance generated a mystic feel.'It was pitch dark when we entered a wooden gate where security persons greeted us. A silhouette of a long building appeared in front of us. At first, I mistook it for the resort's main area. Darkness bounded the entire region, and the few dim lights coming from some unknown source were not good enough to give a clear picture of the surroundings. The entire ambiance generated a mystic feel.
The moment we entered the resort, rain started showering its virgin spray over the area. The staff then guided us through a foot path to the main block, a spacious and independent cottage.
The roomy deluxe cottage emitted a fresh smell of laterite stone, mixed with wet mud, thanks to the first rain drops of the season. The rooms where stylishly designed and perfectly maintained up to the expected standards. This was the first thought that crossed our mind as its first guests. From the door panel to the curtains, sit out to the toilets everything was set in a state-of-the-art manner that offered complete comfort to the visitors. In the magnificent candle light ambience, we had a fabulous dinner. Fruits, chappathi, Dal, chicken, fish and a few rice items mentioned in the menu card, appeared on our table in no time. Both the long journey and the heavy dinner took its toll on us and not surprisingly, the bed was our next destination.
The next day, some unknown birds of the region gave us the wakeup call. Fresh morning light seeped through the window curtains. In a few minutes we were off the blocks, equipped with camera and lenses to explore the entire resort. In the daylight, the resort wore a different look. It exuded cool comfort, directly from the lap of mother nature.
Inside the resort, which was categorized as a hill resort, the cottages and the entire designing was planned by keeping a natural pool as the focal point. All the cottages opened its main door to a medium sized natural pool, where ducks fight to get their way among myriad numbers of water lilly plants. The huge mountain peak reflected its majesty in the water.
A squirrel's sharp call came from a jack fruit tree. When we looked up it was getting ready to have its treat from a big jackfruit. When we set the camera to picture the squirrel, it squeaked in protest. We were absolutely taken in by the cool serene environment. With 31 rooms including the independent cottages Banasura blends its mud tone aesthetically to its green surroundings. The construction of the resort was fully done with mud, clay and laterite stones. Even though the independent cottages were supported by laterite stones, its main building, where the office, reception and 20 rooms were positioned, stood testimony to a successful experiment with mud. This huge structure thatched with coconut leaves, marks Banasura as Asia’s largest mud resort.
The mud structure was the largest attraction of the resort. Making a structure using only mud was in fact a huge challenge and was time consuming when compared to other modes of construction, Raj explained, as we passed a number of laborers who were busy with the final touches.
When we entered the main mud corridors, any doubt about the structure's uniqueness was completely wiped out from our minds. Something beyond words, something more than natural, greeted us. The interiors gave us a comfort which no centralized air-conditioned building could offer. Something any visitor from the concrete jungles would definitely cherish.
The corridor of the main building resembled a cave fort. The doors of the rooms were hidden along the curves and bends. From the entrance of the corridor the rooms appeared door-less. A total of 20 rooms were constructed in two storeys. Even though the mud-rule demanded balance, the Banasura authorities did no compromise on modern amenities. The rooms, with LCD televisions and loos, were arranged in a manner which was equivalent to global standards.
Prof. Eugene Nazareth Pandala, winner of the National Designer Award for 2007 conferred by the Inside Outside magazine, was the man behind this earthen construction. By adopting the building craft of ancient Mesopotamia Prof. Pandala created a stunning architectural environment that was an accurate illustration of the imaginative and integrative possibilities of earth structures.
' The main roof was covered with thatched coconut fronds. This was the traditional Kerala method of constructing homes for centuries.'He adopted a construction method of the Mesopotamian era, using locally available eco-friendly materials like clay and stone and engaging workers from the tribal villages in the neighborhood. The ceiling of each room was panelled elegantly with wood to avoid dust. The main roof was covered with thatched coconut fronds. This was the traditional Kerala method of constructing homes for centuries. Many generations lived this way.
Now for the guests, it is a recall. A traditional ambiance combined with modern comfort is the mantra of the resort. This is what this unique place tries to reveal to the visitors who are expected to flow in from the next season onwards.