World
Bamboo Banks Farm – A Place to Steal some Peace
Bamboo Banks Farm in Tamil Nadu is the perfect get-away place to experience the calmness and purity of the nature in this busy-bee world
 
I got up around six in the morning and stepped on to the veranda of my room. I saw seven or eight deer and three or four peacocks on the lawn. There was background music of assorted birds such as turkeys, ducks and chicken as accompaniments. For those of us, who normally wake up to sounds of barking stray dogs and blaring horns, this was a divine experience. Looking at so many deer and peacocks, all along the road till Bandipur, my friend remarked, “It is so nice to see a deer instead of stray dogs, and peacocks, rather than the sparrows that we normally see.” How true.
 
All this was possible because of the Kothavala family. Siasp and his late wife Zerene, bought 42 acres of land nearly 40 years ago and have gradually developed this rest-house. It has seven cottages that can accommodate about 30 guests at time. They intend to keep the numbers small and though the business does not generate a surplus, it does break-even. The property is managed by an 87 year-old sharp-minded, highly witty Siasp with the help of his son Zeasp and daughter Shahanaz.
 
Mr Kothavala did his graduation in Agriculture at Pune in the early 1950s. He met a Chzek gentleman who offered him a job at some tea estate. Over the years, he has managed many tea estates and even now provides consultancy services to tea garden owners. In his youth, Siasp was an enthusiastic horse rider and a hunter. He still has horses on his resort for the guests to go horse-riding.
 
The farm itself is very comfortable, with nice rooms and good food including some delicious Parsi specialities such as dhansak. If you are adventurous food wise you can try Turkey or Akoori (a Parsi recipe) with Turkey eggs.  
 
The hospitality, as you would expect from a typical Parsi establishment, is excellent. Apart from the family, they enquire about guests’ well-being and all the people who work with them. They are very polite and helpful.
 
 
The resort has plenty of trees as well as a nursery, but the Kothavalas now plan to convert it into a planned jungle in order to attract more animals. Since there are three bore wells, water is not an issue.
 
 
The hosts offer you an open jeep ride to check out the property; but if you want to enjoy watching the birds and animals in utter peace and tranquility then a Machan on the property is the place for you.  A river runs on one side of the resort and Mr Kothavala had dug a trench on all the other sides to keep elephants away. However, Zeasp says that it is almost impossible to keep away a determined elephant and they are frequent visitors especially a rather wild one, who we were warned about, but did not turn up during our visit. 
 
Since the Madhumalai and Bandipur forests are both close to the resort, one can hire a jeep and go into Madhumalai forest. A 90 minute tour, starting at 6am is available for Rs3,000. The forest department also organizes such tours at Madhumalai as well as Bandipur. 
 
Sighting wild animals like tigers, elephants are a matter of chance. The last tiger sighting was reported on 9th January. We were lucky to come across just one wild elephant and a wild boar. We also spotted a white eagle, deer, monkeys, plenty of peacocks in plenty and we spotted two giant squirrels on the resort itself.
 
One of the most pleasurable experiences was to chat with Mr Kothavala. Having spent his life in and around jungles, he has many fascinating stories to tell. He believes that sanctuaries should be opened up to tourists with adequate safeguards. We were just shown the periphery of the forests right now. He says if this is not done then the sanctuaries will be taken over by forest officials and poachers completely.
 
 
We were told an interesting story of a donkey that he had adopted. The donkey originally belonged to a couple, an Iranian man and a Turkish woman. When they separated, they requested Mr Kothavala to adopt the donkey, which he did. He says the donkey is not very happy here since his former mistress, unlike me, used to feed him chocolates, biscuits and other sweets. We saw that the donkey had become very friendly with one particular horse. They keep playing with each other. It was a great pleasure to watch. Mr Kothavala says donkeys are much more
intelligent than horses and so are cows.
 
What is unique about Kothavala’s resort is that it is not your typical commercial property. It is born out of passion and love for the jungles and nature.
 
If you want to spend some quiet time in the company of nature then this is the place to go.
 
Address and Phone Number - Achakarai Road, Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu 643 223
094433 73201 
 

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COMMENTS

Kiran Aggarwal

2 years ago

Good article .
Informative

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Jayanthi Natarajan quits Congress, blames Rahul Gandhi, Maken

The four times MP and former Minister of Environment said she obliged to the 'wishes' of Rahul Gandhi while serving as minister but was unceremoniously removed from her post and sidelined without any reason

 

Jayanthi Natarajan, the former Minister of Environment, Friday said she is quitting Congress, after a letter sent by her to party chief Sonia Gandhi was published in the Hindu. In the letter sent on 5 November 2014, Natarajan said she received specific requests from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on environmental clearances while serving as Minister for Environment in the Manmohan Singh government and despite fulfilling these request was made a scapegoat for the economic problems of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
 
"I myself have served the Congress party from 1984. Thirty years later, for no fault of mine, I find that my own small work, and the glorious legacy of my family stand ruined. I want to place on record, that from 20 December 2013, until now, I have still not been told by you, why I was asked to resign from the Council of Ministers, nor have I ever been asked or given an opportunity to explain, if indeed I had committed any wrongdoing," she said in the letter sent to Sonia Gandhi.
 
Natarajan, following directions from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, resigned on 20 December 2013. She said, "The next day my resignation was headlines in the media, and all the initial reports correctly reported that I had stepped down for party work. By the afternoon, to my shock, I received information that persons from the office of Rahul Gandhi were calling the media and planting stories that my resignation was NOT for party work."
 
"My sources were impeccable, and I felt unease. Thereafter, the media was flooded with negative stories about me. The same day, namely, the day after I resigned, Rahul Gandhi addressed a FICCI meeting of industrialists, where he made uncomplimentary references to delays in environmental clearances, and the adverse effects upon the economy, and assured the corporate world, that the party and government would henceforth ensure that there would be no delays, and bottlenecks for industry. After being alerted by the media, I saw the entire speech on YouTube. It was then that some in the media questioned me if I had been asked to resign immediately, to enable Rahul Gandhi to address FICCI and the corporate world with the news of my resignation in the background," Natarajan said.
 
"I received specific requests [which used to be directives for us] from Rahul Gandhi and his office forwarding environmental concerns in some important areas and I took care to honour those 'requests'. Rahul Gandhi went in person to Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha, and publicly declared to the Dongria Kondh tribals that he would be their 'sipahi' and would not allow their interests to suffer at the hands of mining giant Vedanta. His views in the matter were conveyed to me by his office, and I took great care to ensure that the interests of the tribals were protected and rejected environmental clearance to Vedanta despite tremendous pressure from my colleagues in cabinet, and huge criticism from industry for what was described as 'stalling' a Rs30,000 crore investment from Vedanta."
 
"The same happened in the case of the Adani projects, where I faced tremendous criticism from within the cabinet and outside, for stalling investment at a time when the country was going through a difficult time in terms of the economy.  In several cases including the stalled GVK power project regarding the Dhari Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh, the Lavasa project in Maharashtra, the Nirma cement plant in Gujarat and in several other cases I was given specific input, to make my decision. Apart from this Pulok Chatterji, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister was in constant touch with me, and officers of the Ministry in guiding the decisions to be taken by the Ministry at that time."
 
Natarajan also alleged if being pressurised and used to lead issues which she felt wrong, like the attack on Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister in the 'snoopgate' episode. She said, "While I was still a Minister, an important matter which has caused me great agitation is the fact that I was called upon to attack the present Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on what is referred to in the media as ‘Snoopgate.’
 
Despite the fact that I initially refused, because I thought that the party should attack Narendra Modi on policy and governance and not drag an unknown woman into a controversy, Ajay Maken telephoned me on 16 November 2013, while I was on tour and asked me to come to Delhi immediately to address a press conference on the issue. I expressed my disinclination to do this, and refused the assignment, mentioning that I was a Minister at that time, and this should not be taken as the point of view of Government. I suggested perhaps an Official Spokesperson should do the Press Conference, if so desired. Maken told me once again, that this was a decision taken at 'the highest level' and that I had no choice in the matter. After the press conference throughout the controversy, which followed I was told by Maken to fiercely attack Narendra Modi, on TV channels and during debates, although I was otherwise never fielded in the media after appointment as Minister."  
 
Jayanthi Natarajan, the four times member of Parliament (MP) since 1984, alleged that she was removed as party spokesperson over a phone call from Ajay Maken. She said, "...later in January, I was again shocked and distressed to receive a telephone call from Ajay Maken, Head of Congress Media cell. He informed me, that my name was being removed from the list of party spokespersons that the decision was taken 'at the highest level' and other work would be assigned to me."
 
"After my removal as Minister, there was widespread news coverage in the Kerala media that my removal was because I had notified the order on protection of the Western Ghats, the Kasturirangan Committee report, on December 19, 2013, (just one day before my removal) which had been bitterly opposed some sections of society in Kerala, who felt that this order would adversely affect their economic interests, and had expressed their opposition to the Prime Minister and to you. Nevertheless, in the interest of protecting the environment, and pursuant to orders of court, I took that important decision."
 
"My successor Veerappa Moily put my orders on hold. A few days before I was removed as Minister, I needed to review the Adani file for some legal issues. When I sent for the file, I was told that it was 'missing'. After considerable search, my officials 'found' it, apparently in the washroom of the computer section, the very day on which I had been asking to resign. Clearly some officials in my then Ministry did not want to send that file back to me, for unknown reasons." 
 
According to the former Minister of Environment, during first week of January 2014, she met Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She said she put forth her grievances before the party chief and informed about requests from media. "I told you (Sonia Gandhi) that the media was keen I should speak to them in view of the huge speculation over my resignation, but you specifically told me not to meet the media. From that day until now, I have honoured that word. But from that day until now, I have neither been given party work, nor have I been given an opportunity to meet you, despite several requests," Natarajan said in her letter.
  
 

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