Nestled in the lap of Kumaon foothills in Uttarakhand’s Faguniakhet region, at 5,000 feet, the Fagunia Farmstay looks like a scene straight out of a movie.

The three-storey house is surrounded by a dense forest and a seasonal waterfall, and offers a view of the Pangot and Nainital mountains.

The house is built and owned by Anil Cherukupalli and his wife, Aditi Pokhriyal, a couple from Delhi who quit city life to embrace a sustainable way of living in 2018.

Their jobs in the conservation field prompted them to adopt a minimalist lifestyle and it took the couple nearly two years to create this majestic place.

“It was love at first sight with this property, which had a small house and a farm. We wanted to create a space for guests who can come here to unwind. So we used the foundation of the existing house to build our farm stay,” says Anil.

Just like every Kumaon structure, this one is built using stone and wood to keep the house thermally insulated. This architectural style is environment-friendly and earthquake-resistant.

“More than 70 percent of the stone and wood was recycled and upcycled from the pre-existing house at the site. The two materials retain warmth and reduce the energy used for heating,” explains Aditi.

“Windows form an integral part of the design and are built in a way that allows for plenty of natural light. The two-foot thick stone walls also help keep the house cool in summers and warm in winters,” she adds.

The homestay has a solar power backup inverter system that generates 5-8 units daily along with a centralised solar water heating system for the bathrooms.

The greywater is channelled to the soak pit, which has multiple filtering layers of gravel and sand. It eventually percolates below the ground to replenish the water tables.

Meanwhile, the black water or sewage is converted into fertiliser with the help of a twin pit toilet system.

The wet waste of the household is converted into compost and the plastic waste is burnt safely in an enclosed incinerator.

Natural fertilisers are used to grow organic food like turmeric, ginger, cucumber, zucchini, capsicum, and brinjals, among other vegetables.

The couple shares that they are working on becoming 100 percent self-sufficient and a zero-waste generating farm stay. Anil adds, “We are focussing on implementing small steps to achieve a big target.”