Just a two-hour drive from Mumbai and Pune to Vasunde village is an eco-friendly homestay made from ethnic architecture under the expanding branches of a 100-year-old banyan tree.
Nestled in the Sahyadri mountain ranges, Banyan Bliss is where one can surround themselves with a 360-degree view of green landscapes.
Here, the whistling of birds occasionally punctures the air and there’s no cell phone network or WiFi to disturb the tranquillity.
It was built by the couple Viinod and Beena Nair. In 2007, Viinod bought 1.25 acres of land to build a weekend home for his family.
While thinking of how to shape the home, he suffered a heart attack in 2009. The incident was an eye-opener for him.
“I was in the field of advertising in Mumbai and spent 18 hours a day at work. Life was stressful and this affected my health. I felt like leaving urban life for good,” he says.
After recovering, the 67-year-old decided to retire and make the land their permanent home. By 2014, the couple built four rooms using vernacular architecture made from rammed earth, clay tiles, and a thatched roof.
The doors and windows were carved from recycled wood. The rooms have rustic wood furniture, sans air-conditioners or televisions. There are books to keep one occupied.
While it was built for the family, their children once asked them to put up the property as a homestay on social media. Within days, they started receiving requests from guests.
Over the years, the number and frequency of guests increased. So far, Beena and Viinod have served over 6,000 guests.
Beena says that bringing city-dwellers closer to nature gives her satisfaction. “For some, we are uncle and aunty. For kids, we become grandma and grandad. Guests keep visiting us because they feel like it is a home away from the city.”