3 Villages In India Modeling Green Living And Sustainability

In Indian villages sustainability flourishes when traditional practices blend with modern innovation, thus fostering planet-friendly agricultural solutions and renewable energy approaches
Khonoma village in Nagaland at dawn
Khonoma village in Nagaland at dawnFlickr: Mike Prince

Living in concordance with the natural world and in relationship with the Earth is key to mitigating the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. Nations around the world are converting and developing existing infrastructure to be in harmony with the local landscape, so it should come as no surprise that villages in India are leading the charge in living sustainably.

We highlight the country's top three villages that model green living and attract a plethora of visitors year-round.

Auroville, Tamil Nadu

The Matrimandir structure
The Matrimandir structureWikimedia Commons: Matthew T Rader

Situated near Puducherry, Auroville is a model of sustainable living. Founded in 1968, this experimental township aims to create a universal community where diverse individuals peacefully coexist with the living world. Over the years Auroville has evolved into an exemple of ecological wellbeing and spiritual growth. It is renowned for its organic farms, ecofriendly architecture, renewable energy projects and efficient waste management. It boasts an extensive collection of alternative energy systems such as solar, wind and biogas generators.

The community is globally recognised for its expertise in various sustainable practices, such as compressed earth building, rainwater harvesting, reforestation, plant-based sewage treatment, wind energy utilisation, dry composting toilets, grey water systems, permaculture, organic farming, and natural dyeing. Visitors can also engage in meditation, yoga and alternative therapies while there.

Getting There

Auroville can be reached by road via Chennai. For those coming by train the nearest railway station is Puducherry. Hire a taxi or take a bus from there to reach Auroville, which is around 15 kilometres away. By air, fly to Chennai International Airport and then take a taxi or bus to Auroville, which will take approximately three hours.

Hiware Bazar, Maharashtra

Trophies  awarded to residents of Hiware Bazar
Trophies awarded to residents of Hiware BazarFlickr: Naga rick

In Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district, Hiware Bazar is a village which was confronted with environmental degradation and water scarcity in the early 1970s. In 1972, the villagers united to implement watershed management and sustainable agriculture. They transitioned from water-intensive crops to horticulture and dairy farming in the 1990s, which reportedly resulted in a significant rise in per capita income from INR 830 in 1995 to INR 30,000 in 2012.

As a result, Hiware Bazar has now transformed into a prosperous village by utilising government funds to regenerate its natural resources, including forests, watersheds and soil. Inspired by the success of Ralegan Siddhi, a village transformed by social activist Anna Hazare, Hiware Bazar now serves as an example for the entire Ahmednagar district. Other villages in Maharashtra have also adopted similar schemes to promote conservation and prosperity.

Getting There

People from nearby cities such as Mumbai or Pune can take the Mumbai-Pune Expressway or Pune-Nashik Highway (NH60) towards Ahmednagar. From Ahmednagar, continue on state highway SH44 towards Hiware Bazar. The nearest railway station to Hiware Bazar is Ahmednagar Railway Station. Hire a taxi or take the bus to cover the 50km journey. Pune International Airport is the nearest airport to Hiware Bazar, which is a two-and-a-half hour drive away.

Khonoma, Nagaland

The beautiful Blyth's tragopan
The beautiful Blyth's tragopanFlickr: Andrew Nicholson

Besides its picturesque view, Khonoma is renowned for its colonial past. The village is believed to have challenged the British colonial rule, which later earned it the name of a 'warrior village'. However, another factor that makes it unique is its sustainable development practices. Located just 20km from Nagaland's capital Kohima, the village's community-led conservation efforts and sustainable practices stand as an exemplary rural development model.

The village has adopted organic farming, efficient water management and promoting ecotourism. Recognised as India's first 'green village', it's also renowned for its contributions to wildlife conservation. In 1998, the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) was established to safeguard the endangered Blyth's tragopan and other wildlife and rare plant species in their natural habitat. Over the past two decades, bird enthusiasts from around the globe have flocked to Khonoma to witness the ethereal sight of these feathered creatures.

Getting There

Dimapur Airport and Dimapur Railway Station are the closest air and train routes to Khonoma. Take a taxi or bus from there to reach the village, approximately 70km away. Khonoma is about 20km from Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland. From Kohima, hire a taxi or take a local bus to reach Khonoma, an approximately one hour journey.

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