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Keeping your water and having fun too

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

India has been systematically destroying its water resources for the past 50 years through sheer neglect and short-sightedness. When we started work on the farm, we wanted to address the coming water crisis before it came to us. This is the story of a water harvesting space we created on the lowest point of the land and its evolution into something totally different.

This is not the space for statistics - let's just say the water crisis in India is very bad, and it is about to become much, much worse in the coming years.

The unfortunate part is we know why it is happening, how we can stop and reverse it - thanks to the trillions of tons of water brought in by the monsoon winds - and yet we do nothing. Then again, human beings love a crisis and most of us will act only when we are absolutely forced to.

When we started work on the farm in 2007, this was foremost in our minds. We had a vision of an ecosystem that used little water, yet captured ALL the rain that fell on the land. Fortunately, we are at the lowest point of a valley watershed, with a rainwater stream just 50 ft from our land - how we wished it was on our land!

So we did the next best thing - water harvested the whole 6 acres, with the water draining into a 100,000 cubic ft pond.

Earth Kitchen homestay bangalore
Posing before the pond in 2009

In my daydreams, I imagined the pond full of water and I snoozing on a boat in the middle, with a fishing rod tucked under the arm. That wish never came true, although the pond used to fill up with water when it rained, to recharge ground water.

Earth Kitchen homestay bangalore water harvesting
A composite of the pond - couldn't capture it in one shot - in 2009

The pond remained a neglected piece of the property as we got busy with developing other parts. There was a lot of work to do and we took our time doing it, carefully crafting each part of the land and every feature the way we wished. Having given up full time jobs, we had the one resource we needed - time. And we invested it with heart and mind.

People ask us - how did you do it? We look at each other in puzzlement, because it didn't feel like work. We had plenty of fun doing it!

As the trees grew and the bunds and trenches to stop rain flow were built, water stopped flowing on the land, and started seeping through the entire land. The pond now remained largely empty, unused. For some reason, we kept work on the pond in abeyance, keeping it as the last project to tackle.

12 years later, when it's turn came, we decided we should convert the water harvesting pond into a dual purpose space - keep and enhance it's water harvesting and absorption properties and also make it accessible for leisure by creating a sunken garden amphitheater.

The earthmover created a pathway into the pond.

Years of debris was cleared in about an hour.

Earth kitchen homestay bangalore
Cleared of debris, the pond is a 7500 sq ft space

All the rocks that had been collected on the outer rim of the pond were dropped in and the space was landscaped like an open air performance space, with stage on one side and seating all around. A path of gravel was created all around to create a natural filter for absorption of the water flowing into the pond from the newly created pathway.

The place was landscaped, trees planted and seating created. Lights were installed and the stage concreted.

The final result, where we can have a rocking party - or any other performance - and also keep harvesting water, like we intended to in the first place.

Now isn't that just fantastic!

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