There is a reforestation drive in Ratnari, around 90km from Shimla is organized by environmentalist Sanjay Austa. Sanjay is the proud owner of Meena Bagh Ratnari, an apple orchard with unending green spaces and a breathtaking view of the Himachal hills. The red house looks even more magnificent in the hills when it is surrounded by snow. After hosting a successful “clean the forest” drive in April, Sanjay is now organizing a “Reforestation drive” with forest officials.
The first session was held between the 10-12th of July. The best part of the drive was that Sanjay had made the stay and meals for all people taking part in the drive completely free. Their stay and food was hosted at the Meena Bagh Ratnari itself. This encouraged many people from all over India to join the drive. Moreover, on the second day of the reforestation drive itself, Sanjay, the volunteers and a lot of local villagers planted 1,000 trees in the forests. These numbers are very encouraging.
What’s in it for you?
Imagine going to a place where the stay is sponsored in a beautiful house nestled in Himlayan hills. You can not only get more inspiration for art and creativity there, but you can also explore more about yourself. Reading a book by the window while you sip some fantastic coffee can be the best feeling in the world. You are away from all the worries of the world and there is no place in the world where you’d rather be. All this coupled with your experience of planting trees in the forest by the day fills your day with satisfaction.
How do you go there?
Since the reforestation drive is super popular and many people want to visit, Sanjay has a process of selection by which he only accepts serious applicants who are passionate about nature. You can text Sanjay or message him on instagram. His page is called @sanjayausta. If you get the opportunity to go, the easiest way is to take a plane to Delhi and take a car/ bus to Narkanda. You can find his property on google maps as well and get directions till there.
What if I am not available on the dates of the drive?
If you are not available on those dates, you can go to Meena Bagh Ratnari any other day throughout the year. In winter, it is not easily accessible because the area is covered with knee deep snow. However, on other days, you can book a room and go there. The property is available on AirBNB as well. You can also simply call Sanjay and he will give you more details about the property. This is the link to book the property on AirBNB:
What is the best part about the property?
The best part of the property is:
- The food- the food here is scrumptious. I love their pancakes which are served with fresh honey. Their cheese grilled sandwich is literally the best grilled sandwich which I have ever tried in my life. Everything tastes better and more fresh on the mountains.
- The view is fantastic – The view from Meena Bagh is fantastic since you can see beautiful Himlayan hills right from your window.
- The interiors – This surely tops the list of the best things at Meena Bagh. The interiors are fantastic and are worth dying for. They are super quirky and colorful. They also have many pets on the property which you can chill with.
Some facts about reforestation:
Fact 1: We need more plants in this world. Climate change is real.
Fact 2: The highest number of trees planted in a day is around 50 million. 8,00,000 people from Uttarakhand volunteered in 2016 to plant trees inside forests and by the roads.
Fact 3: Planting saplings isn’t enough. The saplings which are grown need water and care to grow since they have a high mortality rate of around 40%. It is essential to take care of them after planting them
You can visit these links for more information: