experience authentic village life in nepal
madi eco-village show-cases a holistic, self sustainable, community based approach to rural tourism in nepal. located in madi (chitwan district), a pristine valley off the mainstream tourist track, this project was launched in october 2018, as a joint venture with sustainable mountain architecture, myclimate, NEFACO, the doko recylers, green bamboo creation and our local project partners: the womens’ groups of bankatta, co-funded by the REPIC plattform.
together we designed and built the “hardware” for regenerative tourism in a remote rural area: two homestay cottages, a shaded community hall for locals and guests to gather, a clean solar energy supply, safe drinking water and a smart waste management system (reduce, reuse, recycle, upcycle), accompanied by awareness creation for holistic and sustainable value creation through tourism.
we aimed at raising appreciation for cultural heritage by innovating vernacular house design. that is, by building in traditional style with local materials (wood, bamboo, mud, elephant grass), in order to create a natural, homely sense of well-being – while not needing to miss modern comfort.
madi eco-village invites
- visitors to experience authentic village life and to immerse themselves in remote, pristine nature of the lowlands of nepal – close to the important national wildlife reserve of chitwan national park; ;
- guests to enjoy the homely atmosphere of natural buildings – as a foundation to inclusive hospitality – on a level of comfort required for them to feel comfortable and “safe”;
- to raise awareness on the value of traditional life and its natural & cultural heritage, by creating opportunity through economic income;
- to inspire visitors to share their experiences and spread this concept of sustainable, holistically designed places inside & outside of nepal.
our values, philosophy and approach to this joint project were documented in a series of articles:
- our partners at sustainable mountain architecture documented the project process in artfully written blogs posts
- project descriptions by our main funding partner REPIC | and by our project partner myclimate
- we were very proudly featured among a selected three eco-places in the nepali times article tourism that treads lightly on the land
- during the covid-lockdown, aarati rana of SMA gave a virtual heritage tour to bankatta village, as part of the story cycle
- I was invited to give a podcast interview with lydia van der brugge, on the opportunities and challenges of bringing a sustainable tourism project to a very remote part of the world.
our multipurpose community hall has become the center meeting point of the community – used for all varieties of gatherings, formal & informal, for guests, official events, delicious eating and celebrating. villagers and guests come to appreciate the breezy, airy space, built in climate-efficient design to keep cool in the hot climate and warm in the winters. even the goats feel comfortable here😊.
built with natural local materials (river stone & gravel, wood, elephant grass) and covered by an intricately designed roof of bamboo – locally sourced and handcrafted – a promising building material for green development. the credit for this artful design goes to green bamboo creation, thank you for contributing and becoming part of our endeavour!
and these are some views on our homestay cottages in their final stage of interior finishing. these cosy little homes are developing a beautiful spatial quality, as a threshold between the inside & outside space. with lovely earthen coloring, one can already feel the cool and homely atmosphere. there is still some finishing work to be done, before the cottages are ready to open their doors for guests.
designed by the team of sustainable mountain architecture, these homely natural cottages invite you to relax in the breezy shade of their generous porch overlooking the peaceful, pristine landscape of madi. here you can detox from your busy life, take a break from “the system”, enjoying restful afternoons with a book, or indulging yourself into the beauty of soft pastel dawns and sunsets. even when you retreat inside, you will feel immersed in nature, cozily embraced by the soft-coloured mud & elephant-grass walls, a delicate wooden ceiling and wide windows opening the view to the land outside.
discover madi village life, enjoy the calm serene spirit of this quiet valley, peaceful nights under clear starlight skies and the cheerful hospitality of the village people deeply connected to the land. enjoy delicious local food grown on the land or collected in the forest. refuel your inner resources, as you experience the grounded day-to-day being of these people who still largely rely on fishing, hunting-gathering and agriculture for their livelihood.
during the daytime, explore and appreciate the beautiful natural surroundings of the village on foot or by bicycle; or ask for a local to guide you to the jewels of the nearby forest. walk in the cool shade of magnificent broad-leaved trees, along clear rivers and creeks, to where ancient sacred sites have been preserved for centuries by deeply dedicated cultural practice.
photo credit: susant tiwari
our joint intiative was not “only” about appreciating natural building and local heritage, but very importantly, it was dedicated to form a basis for long-term sustainable flourishing of this eco-village, by empowering the women in their confidence (speaking up, sharing their voices in public) and in the ease of their work.
two outstanding examples: one of the more outspoken ladies of the homestay committee, sabita bot, has taken the courage to put herself up for candiate as ward committee member in the current elections. and, at the closing ceremony last week, another member of the committee, lal maya bot, delivered the most eloquent, clear-sighted speeches I have heard in these four years: balancing off the challenges with the gains of this project, in such a steady, calm and artful manner. I was deeply impressed!
empowerment of the community is also apparent on a less tangible level: when I first visited this community four years ago, there was a simple concrete meeting hall too small to hold all committee members. the women where shy and the villagers were primarily subsistence farmers sending their young men to work in the middle-east. comparing that scenario with my impression now, when all of us gathered and enjoyed interacting in the airy, open community hall: women are speaking up and even candidating as village representatives, I sense a proud awareness on the value of their bote cultural heritage and an appreciation of using local materials for building. the villagers have developed socio-economic, cultural and environmental awareness.
on april 25th, 2022 – coincidentally on the 7-year earthquake commemoration day – we handed the madi eco-village buildings over to the community of bankatta. looking back onto shared challenges and achievements of the past 4 years, we proudly celebrated this auspicious event, together with our partners sustainable mountain architecture, myclimate, susant tiwari of NEFACO, the village community and the local government representatives, and with our special guest maaike mainali of nepal inside out travel agency.
a few steps are left now, to complete the finishing touches on the homestay cottages and to create an operation, management and marketing model, before we completely hand over responsibility to the local community, for them to grasp this self-reliable opportunity of celebrating their cultural and natural heritage, by creating their very unique flavour of hospitality.
do get in touch with us if you are interested to experience this wonderful space. we will let you know when the cottages are ready to host you.