Nestled in the forests of Odisha near the pottery village of Goudaguda, Chandoori Sai is the perfect weekend getaway.
Lounging in a manicured garden overlooking the rolling hills, gazing at the stars in clear skies, watching the smoke from the neighbouring chimneys as the evening meals are cooked, and listening to the faint sound of the nearby brook and the chirping of crickets. If you aspire to this, then believe it or not, it is only 200 km from the bustle of Vizag.
Chandoori Sai is nestled in the forests of Odisha. Conceptualized, built and managed single-handed by Leon Mahoney, an Australian, this eco-friendly resort in the picturesque pottery village of Goudaguda is to be experienced to be believed.
With only five spacious guest rooms, the guesthouse is styled on the tribal village homes of the Poraja and Khonda tribes who live here, but within an enclosed garden. In order not to disturb the tribals, this accommodation is unobtrusively placed in a secluded part of the village. The homestay, explains Leon, was constructed and decorated using local labour and materials as much as possible. From the hand-made terracotta floor tiles to the coloured ochre used on the walls to give the rooms a warm earthy look, everything is pristinely local.
Interior designer Nivedita Bose and her architect husband, Ajay Bose, were over-awed by the simple but elegant architecture. Mrs. Bose says, “The furniture made locally matches the interiors perfectly and the false ceiling is done up with colourful saris. The toilets are modern and extremely neat with hot water and shower cubicles.” They add that they had a relaxing time going for long walks in the hills, eating seasonal, organic vegetables from the kitchen garden and fresh mackerel that they caught from the river. They are itching to go back as soon as their schedule permits.
When Mrs. Mayank Kumari and her daughter Latika decided to spend a quiet mother-daughter weekend, they chose Leon’s place. Mayank says, “This quiet and secluded place in the midst of lush green pristine environs in the tribal land immediately beckoned us. Leon and his trained all-women tribal staff courteously looked after us with welcoming smiles. The continental fare of pasta, home-made freshly baked bread, and pies and tarts for dessert could give the best of bakeries a run for their money.”
Mr. Sohan Hatangadi, a consultant from Vizag, feels it is a perfect place for families to visit to discover an un-spoilt culture, which though readily accessible is little known. “It is mesmerizing to see local potters at work in the shed and to sit under the tamarind tree, pausing time. To top it, Leon’s hospitality is friendly and engaged without being intrusive. From waking up to strong aromatic coffee (strong enough to wake Dracula at noon), to bruschetta for lunch to grilled prawns for dinner, it is luxury in this untamed land,” reminisces Mr. Hatangadi.
Travelers from around the world have also given it rave reviews on tripadvisor.com, claiming to have had a truly unique opportunity seeing and experiencing a different way of life first-hand. Leon, however, is choosy and has many interactions with his guests before he books them in. He adds, “This is only so that the peace and quiet of this area is not disturbed.”
The project started in 2005 and took three years to complete. While emphasizing that this is not a charity, Leon says, “My aim was to use quality tourism to focus attention and bring work and business opportunities to the people of the southern districts of Orissa through development projects and by assisting in adapting styles and techniques of their crafts to make quality products. I wanted to bring development in an intelligent and constructive way to a place where there is little to none.”
In sharp comparison to tourists thronging in busloads to Araku valley and Borra caves, this resort is perfect for people looking for some calm and quiet. Truly a place where on a clear day, you can see forever!
Goudaguda village is in Kakriguma in Koraput District. By train: To Koraput via Araku valley and a taxi thereafter (about a 50 km drive); or the twice weekly Intercity Express to Rayagada stops at Laxmipur station, 25 km from the village. By road: Take a taxi from Visakhapatnam.
For booking and information: www.chandoorisai.com