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Shillim Story

 

"We all have our Shillims - those precious landscapes that have formed us, nurtured us and possibly saved us. We need to safeguard not only the landscapes, but the role all of our Shillims play in the lives of the human species. We are increasingly distanced from wild places, where we connect with who we are as part of a larger natural system. Shillim as a concept is that place where we can reconnect. As a practice it is the ability to move beyond the chatter and exhaustion of our everyday lives, to tap into the deep sense of renewal that a place like Shillim provides and come back to ourselves. As a promise it is this: that for our children and our grandchildren landscapes like Shillim will still exist." - Margie Ruddick, Co-founder, Shillim Foundation

Nestled in the lap of the Sahyadri Range in the Western Ghats – a UNESO World Heritage site and among the world’s top 8 hotspots of biological diversity, Shillim is barely a 2.5-hour drive from Mumbai.

Years back, the owners had this deep desire to preserve a small patch of this fragile area because they felt rapid industrialisation threatened to steal the entire character of the place and destroy its ecology. It was then that they acquired 2,500 acres, with the intent to develop a small part of it as a resort.

Defined by a mountain ridge, and the diverse forests within its valley, this breathtaking piece of land is home to hundreds of endemic species of plants and animals that can be found only in this area of the Sahyadris. When the planning work on the site commenced in 1997, the state of the soil posed a sad picture, because of incessant cattle grazing for several generations, constant rice field harvests and the age-old practice of periodic burning of the soil.

Years later, with the reforestation programmes initiated by Shillim, a sense of serenity has seeped into the landscape. Now with the lush rice fields, the fertile valley, spectacular view, clean air, the place can boast of becoming one of the most exotic ones in the country.

 

The Vision

“To conserve, to sustain and to heal.”

 

The Mission

To conserve and maintain all habitat and natural environments at Shillim in an ecologically and responsible and sustainable manner. Our commitment to respecting the harmonious bio-diversity of the Shillim landscape is paramount. Our commitment to encourage the same responsibility globally is one of the foundation principles of Shillim.

To create a pristinely reflective environment in which to integrate the essential philosophical, spiritual and artistic wisdom of past civilizations with contemporary, life- enhancing practices and knowledge.

To combine holistic practices and a comfortable retreat atmosphere in a superb wilderness setting. To integrate the total rest and well being of body, mind and spirit so that guests may return to their everyday lives deeply refreshed and re-inspired.

And finally – so that we may learn and grow together in an atmosphere of love, respect and caring – to introduce guests, employees and fellow villagers to the ideas and concepts that will be the next step in the evolutionary process of humanity.

 

Architecture and Landscape

When the Shillim founders took up this massive responsibility to reform this stretch of land, a team of designers, engineers and horticulturists assembled for planning the conservation process.

This massive programme was started over the disturbed areas of the site–the paddy fields and the eroded slopes. They used the aerial photograph as the base for the plan, so they would always be able to see the existing landforms and vegetation thereon.

The plan marked existing forest as a no-go-zone for development. The 2,500 acres area of land to be reformed stretched from a high ridge, butte, plateau, forest benches, to rice fields. And, on top of that, there were 28 tributaries that flowed into the main nallah, or watercourse, at the valley floor.

When the team started off with the conservation work, they made sure to create contour trenches over a thousand meters, which not only helped to slow down water but also allowed vegetation to take hold, while recharging groundwater.