Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022
Outlook.com

Along The Shoreline In Odisha

Nearly half a month ago, one could spot 58 tents bee-lined along the shore of the Ramchandi beach for a unique glamping experience 

Sand art welcoming guests at the retreat
Sand art welcoming guests at the retreat

I squeezed the ropes as hard as I could, tightening my grip with every passing second. I could hear my heart pounding, and felt the adrenaline rushing through my veins. A certain change in direction of the wind and off I went into the depths of the water. And just like that in a few minutes, this parasailing experience became one of my fondest memories at the Eco Retreat Konark. 

By time you scroll through this, dear reader, Odisha’s Ramchandi Beach will be back to its (almost) original form — a vast stretch of pristine white sand against which crystal blue waves crash and create a melody. That’s the thing about the glamping experience at the Eco Retreat Konark, when it's over it doesn’t seem like it happened because it does not leave any residue behind. And a major contributing factor for this is keeping sustainability at the heart of the entire experience. 

The tents at the retreat
The tents at the retreat

“I feel at home here,” said Samit Garg, the founder of E Factor Experiences, who in association with the Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha organised the three month long experience from mid-December 2021 to mid-March 2022. “The government here has been extremely forthcoming and has supported us every step of the way,” he added.

Nearly half a month ago, one could spot 58 tents bee-lined along the shore of the beach (which was cordoned off as a private area for the residents in the tents), with a vast centre-stage for all evening activities, a couple of machans for solace seekers, a small tea stall for evening snacks and separate designated area for adventure water sports like parasailing, jet skiing and speed boating amongst others. 

Inside the Presidential Suite
Inside the Presidential Suite

My accommodation, a presidential suite, was on one end of the retreat. What looked like a humble unit on the outside was an extravagant, airy and spacious accommodation on the inside. The interiors spotted bright colours, different motifs lining the roof, ample amounts of natural light, a common living area flanking two rooms on either side, and portable air conditioners to beat the afternoon heat . Not only that, but the design sensibilities and logistics also deserve a special mention. While here one can choose from the four different categories of rooms available, namely classic, premium, royale and presidential. While this year there were 58 functional units, expansion plans for the next year are already underway. 

Sustainability
“We didn’t want to disturb the ecological balance of the place,” said Garg when asked about sustainability. Apart from the retreat being largely plastic free — refillable glass bottles in the room, dispensers for toiletries, using wood wherever possible instead of compact plastic that is generally preferred for such kind of temporary mobile assets, etc — a number of steps were taken to leave the land behind in its original condition. 

For example, all the waste from the residential units was not buried in the beach soil or drained off into the ocean. Rather, a mechanism involving digging up the ground and placing a proper container, which was being cleared out every three days, was in place. 

The machines at the retreat
The machans at the retreat

A special focus on minimising power consumption was also placed. Each room only had bulbs consuming energy between 0 to 5 watts, and bright fixtures were completely done away with. Apart from that, to reduce wastage of electricity, each accommodation unit had an instant geyser in place rather than boilers or large geysers that require prior power to run. Wastage, even in the kitchen, was accounted for with an onsite collection centre for all kitchen waste. 

Activities:
Apart from the adventure sports at the retreat, visitors can also go for guided tours to nearby destinations of nature, culture, historic and architectural significance, be a part of the cultural performances every evening, or simply choose to spend time at the beach.

“Travellers must visit the Sun Temple, Konark Museum, Baulkham Sanctuary, and the Golden Beach in Puri which has been recently re-certified as a Blue Flag Beach. Guests interested in art and crafts can visit Saharanpur, a heritage crafts village where every household is an art gallery in itself. This luxurious retreat by the beachside is surely an indulgent holiday space, away from the hustle-bustle of city life to rediscover yourself,” said Sachin R Jadhav, Director Tourism, Government of Odisha. 

While this glamping experience might be over, preparation for the upcoming editions are already underway. You can keep an eye out here.

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