After working as an architect for almost 15 years, Eldho Pachilakkadan, 42, a resident of Kottayam, decided to quit his job and turn to a simpler lifestyle surrounded by nature.
He turned this dream into a reality by turning a 10-acre barren land that he owned in Senapathy, a village in Idukki, into a flourishing self-sustaining ecosystem with fruit and vegetable varieties from across the world.
What’s incredible is that he managed to accomplish this in only three years!
Today, he also offers trekking and off-roading experiences in the forest, which he has christened as ‘Swarga Medu (Heavenly Abode).’
So how did he manage to do that?
The Trek To The Top
After completing an undergraduate degree in Architecture from the Government Polytechnic College, Adoor, Eldho took up a job at a firm, while also dabbling in several other fields. From owning restaurants to textile shops and even art galleries—he’s done everything.
Eldho was also part of an NGO where he and his friends offered to do voluntary work for the government’s forest services. The treks, hikes and the just being involved closely with nature, inspired Eldho to create something of his own.
“It was during one such trek in Idukki that we came across this plot of land, and I immediately felt some connection with it. It was barren, and I wondered if I could play some role in its transformation,” he explains.
So in 2009, Eldho bought the land along with his friend, Vivek Vilasni, and created a ‘heaven on earth.’
“The idea was to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that was close to nature. Rather than using systematic techniques and traditional methods, I allowed the saplings to flourish on their own with just food waste,” he adds.
10 Acres of Pure Bliss
Located on the misty hilltops of Idukki, Swarga Medu has many delights on offer, and one of them is its fruit forest that has over 20 varieties of apples, 6 to 7 varieties of oranges, grapes, mangosteen, litchi, strawberry, and many more.
“But it wasn’t easy to get these saplings. I’ve travelled all across the globe trying to source plants that would fit the soil and the climatic conditions in Kerala. I would have to say that was the hardest part,” he explains.
Every evening, Eldho collects fruit waste from all the nearby shops and carefully uses it to make the soil more nutritious.
“Besides that, I don’t add anything else for the nourishment of the plants because I believe nature has its way of sustaining itself. As human beings, we are merely there to sow the seeds, and I believe that we shouldn’t be the ones disrupting nature’s cycle,” he adds.
Besides the fruit forest, Eldho has also opened up ‘Swarga Medu’ for tourists and other agricultural experts. Although the forest doesn’t have facilities to accommodate tourists, they are provided with tents and welcome to camp overnight, trek through the hilltops and even taste the varieties of fruits.
“It was never the money factor that led me to create Swarga Medu. I wanted to lead a peaceful life in a natural environment and that’s what I got. As for the revenue, a sufficient amount is generated, which is enough for my family and for the maintenance of the farm,” he explains.
Becoming A Fruitarian
With almost 90% of his diet being fruits from his forest, ‘Swarga Medu’ has also transformed Eldho into a fruitarian—which means that his diet comprises primarily of fruits.
“It’s been about three years now, and my diet consists of only fruits from the forest. My theory is to eat what nature provides me with—nothing more, nothing less. And so far I’ve got enough and more nutrition from these fruits,” he explains.
Eldho’s wife Bincy and his two children have also adopted this lifestyle and have been a constant support for him through his journey.
Eldho is currently working on a project named ‘Utopia’ in Kottayam and Ernakulam where he plans to lease out small plots of land and create a self-sustaining ecosystem out of it in a way that it can provide enough harvest for a family to survive.
“With people coming back to the ways of sustainable living, I hope to see everyone living a life closely involved with nature. I hope that ‘Eutopia’ could be the beginning of such a lifestyle,” he concludes.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)