Sustainability, Yoga & Devotion
Govardhan Ecovillage (GEV) is a United Nations WTO-awarded eco-community founded by His Holiness Radhanath Swami in 2003. A spiritual oasis in the heart of Maharashtra, India, Govardhan Ecovillage is a humble attempt to highlight the importance of living in harmony with self, divine, nature and community.
Spreading over 100 acres, the Ecovillage is accredited to UNEP, UNCCD, UNCBD and UN ECOSOC bodies making steady progress in diverse fields. It has academically researched, scientifically experimented and successfully implemented a symbiotic sustainable development model derived from both Vedic and modern techniques.
Composed of 133 eco-stay rooms, a large yoga school, a Kerala Ayurveda centre, farms, an animal shelter with 100+ cow families, sustainability initiatives, a community area and geo-tourism sites, GEV is a tranquil and sustainable space.
Echoing ‘Simple living, High Thinking,’ the community of 250 residents is striving to set up a role model village for transforming the hearts of all who visit in an eco-friendly way.
Life in the Vedic times was based on service, not exploitation; this was the cardinal rule of living and the very essence of people’s dealings – with each other and with Mother Nature. With this as the basis, sustainability became one of the primary pillars of GEV.
Govardhan School of Sustainability works towards combining a supportive Spiritual-Social environment with a lifestyle that has a minimum effect on the environment. With Climate Change affecting the globe, GSOS approaches the earth as a mother, with the intention to reduce energy consumption and ecological footprint.
This project serves as an optimised action model for symbiotic sustainable development with 10+ sustainability living labs. Explore these projects below.
GEV has platinum-rated green buildings built with 400,000 locally made Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB). It receives 3500 + guests every year in 133 well-furnished eco-friendly guest rooms awarding a convenient stay. GEV also hosts corporate retreats, school visits and study abroad programs for students.
One of the Technologies utilised in constructing these buildings was the usage of Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB). The fundamental process for making these bricks is by compressing a combination of mud, stone dust and lime with hands. Whilst a traditional red block consumes 27 KJ of energy, this block consumes only 0.27 KJ of energy.
Smart sourcing principles were followed to reduce the overall carbon footprint and hence 90% of the materials were sourced from within a 100 km radius of our facility. An innovative feature of the CSEB blocks is that locally available natural resources are used as a building materials for IGBC and GRIHA-certified five-star buildings.
Water is the basis of sustenance for the entire world be it for the people, for the cattle or for growing food through agriculture. By 2050 half the world’s population is threatened to live in water-stressed areas and a billion or more will not have sufficient water resources.
Govardhan School of Sustainability exemplifies a model for the whole world which is self-sustainable and takes proper measures to both conserve and protect water. A rainwater storage pond of 90 million litres capacity and a groundwater recharge pond of 5 million litres capacity was excavated. These facilities serve all the water requirements of the growing community.
The impact of rainwater harvesting initiatives is predominantly visible with the flourishing biodiversity of the region. The community’s dependency on river water has further reduced saving money used for pumping water from a long distance. The groundwater recharge is projected to be substantial with black cotton soil used instead of plastic lining for the pond construction. In fact, the water reservoir, when filled to capacity, is the largest pond in the district.
Govardhan Eco Village (GEV) is a farm community set up to highlight the importance of living a life in harmony with nature. Unlike the modern-day resource-to-trash systems, GEV is an optimised action model for a symbiotic sustainable development system based upon the principle of circularity.
This serves as a proof of concept for upscaling in the neighbourhood districts. Pyrolysis and other plastic waste treatment technologies can be optimised for large-scale adoption. The long-term vision is to eradicate plastic waste in the district of Palghar by collecting plastic waste from nearby villages.
Coal-based electricity is the no. 1 cause of carbon emissions. In our concrete steps towards Zero emissions and Net Zero energy by 2030, GEV shifted to Solar Power and Biogas plants.
GEV houses a biodiversity spiritual park replicating the holy places of the Vrindavan forest from India to promote cultural heritage. The park has water bodies & plants with hundreds of birds &; butterflies. Vrindavan Forest is home to 10,000+ trees and plants belonging to 165+ species 65+ species of birds and 55+ species of butterflies from 5 families.
The Goshala at Govardhan Ecovillage was started in 2003. Beginning with only 9 cows & bulls, the number today has increased to 104 and is expected to reach 150 in the next few years. One of the unique features of the Govardhan Ecovillage Goshala is the personal attention and care given, with separate special zones allocated for Bulls, Cows, Calves and milking Cows.
Cows at Govardhan Ecovillage are treated as family and all due care is given to them. The health status of each and every cow is noted by a veterinarian on a daily basis.
Govardhan Ecovillage Goshala provides excellent facilities for Cows and bulls, setting world-class standards in Cow care with rope free zones, fresh water, special calf care and many other practical considerations.
Govardhan Rural Development was started in 2010 by the inspiration of HH Radhanath Swami to concentrate on rebuilding the villages of India. A few of his followers began a health care centre which has now grown into a 200+ bed multispeciality hospital, a daily meal distribution program which currently serves more than 300,000+ students daily.
The real wealth of any nation resides in how well its rural community is nutrified. After witnessing severe poverty in the Palghar district of Maharashtra, His Holiness urged his followers to create a program of empowerment for the integrated development of rural households. This project is an ideal illustration of how critical it is for India to focus on transforming villages back to their original efficacy. Explore GRD’s projects below.
Empowering farmers is the most crucial aspect of transforming the rural landscape. With a blend of organic and modern practices, we ensure farmers raise sufficient income by equipping their piece of land in such a manner that it derives long, middle and short-term income that they would otherwise earn by migrating.
Wadi agriculture, a seed for life, and livestock development are the primary aspects of this program. So far, 1300+ farmers have adopted it, above 7000 farmers are trained in learning this efficient practice, and more than 165000 horticulture plantations were done.
Seed for life
This program aims to promote climate-resilient, nutritionally rich indigenous crop cultivars to manage seeds and agricultural produce by devising a marketing system. This enhances their nutritional security and protects the agricultural community. The rural development team encourages community-level seed production and safe storage for timely promotions in the market.
About 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Climate Change has worsened this for those who depend on agriculture for livelihood.
50% of the population in Palghar has zero or minimal water for irrigation in post-monsoon season, thus leading to distressed migration. Long distance from walking to fetch drinking water makes life tough for women in rural areas.
Thus, the Govardhan Rural Development team meets with farmers undergoing water scarcity for irrigation – these farmers are those who are already associated with the rural development program and are on the path to sustainable farming practices.
With 850+ lift irrigation beneficiaries, 5500+ drinking water beneficiaries, and 1050+ customised irrigation beneficiaries.
Any effort to transform the rural landscape will fall short if civil society neglects the condition of women. Thus, we follow an integrated model of women’s empowerment covering social, economical, financial and health awareness programs.
The team follows a 10 steps model of women empowerment through the formation and training of groups of women in self-help groups and giving capacity-building training through a range of activities.
Facilitation of SHGs, to give proper attention towards personal and family health with emphasis on hygiene, awareness about the various schemes of the government for the education of children and benefit of the government schemes for funding, bank loans, micro-financing and revolving funds are all some of the important aspects of this empowerment scheme.
With 300+ Self Help Groups cultivated, this initiative has benefited 3000+ women in turn impacting 12000+ respective family members.
Studies show nearly 70% of the population of India lives in rural areas, but less than 40% of its healthcare infrastructure in terms of skilled manpower and healthcare facilities is present in rural areas. Our mobile clinics aim to make healthcare available, accessible and affordable to rural and tribal areas.
Camps, Health Clinics and Caregiver courses are the primary aspects of this initiative. Villagers come to the camp and can get themselves checked for their health problems, especially ophthalmic issues. 2500 health camps were successfully conducted. Once patients are screened they have advised treatment either in the camp or referred to our base hospitals where as of now 1,00,000 treatments have been conducted so far. It is to be noted that, about 1800 cancer surgeries were done for the rural patients of Palghar.
The greatest problem in this world is hunger, but not hunger of the stomach. You give some food, you could resolve that. It’s hunger of the heart. And only love can nourish the heart. The origin of that love is the love between the soul and God. When we are nourished with that love, we become an instrument of that love in whatever we do.
With 84% rural population and half of them living below the poverty line, the Palghar area is in dire need of combating hunger and malnutrition. The Govardhan Annakshetra initiative aims to provide 1.5 million nutritious free meals a year to improve the overall health of the community.
Govardhan Gurukul is a state government-affiliated residential school mainly for the underprivileged children in the Palghar district who either live below the poverty line, are raised by a single parent or are orphaned. It aims to cultivate not just academically successful individuals, but also responsible human beings with hearts.
Govardhan Skill Development Centre is a non-profit organisation, with the objective of facilitating sustainable livelihood solutions for rural communities by imparting quality education, vocational skills, healthcare and values to lead a life of meaning and purpose. Serving 9 of 17 SHGs Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, the centre has educated 9000+ youth and conducted holistic health programs impacting 3000+ women.
The Vrindavan Forest of Grace is an eco-presentation of one of the holiest places in India called Vrindavan. Manifested in 15 acres, this spiritual haven remains a place to remember the love that connects each being with the divine and nature.
Home to 10,000 trees, 60+ varieties of chirping birds and fragrant flowers, the forest also is adorned with a beautiful replica of the sacred river Yamuna, a hill, sacred springs, and 9 temple structures reflecting the core of Indian heritage and culture.
Govardhan School of Yoga is dedicated to disseminating and sharing the ancient Indian wisdom of Yoga as presented ages ago.
Nestled amidst a picturesque landscape, GSY is composed of two large Yoga studios, equipped classrooms, a library, a nourishing diet for yogis, animal care, and spiritual immersions to deepen the practice.
Through their yoga journeys, students discover their unique strengths, resolve their inner conflicts and discover deeper well-being that goes well beyond the physical.
Govardhan Ayurveda provides traditional Kerala consultation through an in-depth evaluation of your state of health, lifestyle practices and physical attributes which will result in a report of findings and recommendations to start one’s path of healing.
The centre is equipped with massage and therapy rooms, a pharmacy for ayurvedic medicines, well-suited rooms for long-term patients, a herbal garden, an ayurvedic dining area with customised organic meals and a space for yoga and pranayama.
5 Star Platinum Grha Ratings given by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and TERI for Green Buildings
Skoch Renaissance and Platinum Award – for Water Conservation (Rated Amongst the Highest Scoring Projects in India during 2013)
IAA Olive Crown Award – For Continued efforts towards environmental sustainability
Krishna Sutra Award for Innovative farming for Permanent Raised Beds
Vrukshavalli Horticulture Awards – 30 Best Nursery Plants
Best Paper Award in IICBE International Conference, Bali for Symbiotic Recycling Systems for harmonizing Ecological and Economical Goals
Asian Sustainability Leadership Awards – Best Overall Sustainable Performance
Asia Best CSR Practices Award – Sustainability
Asia Future Green Leaders Awards – Enivronment
National Award for Excellence in CSR and Sustainability – Sustainability
National Award for Excellence in Renewable Energy – Alternative Energy
IAA Olive Crown Award – Creative Excellence in Communicating Sustainability
World’s 50 Most Talented Leader’s Awards – Environment Leader
The Golden Globe Tigers Awards – Best Green Water Stewardship – kualalampur
International Green Apple Award – Symbiotic Recycling Systems for Sustainable Habitats (House of Parliament – London)
Aqua Excellence Award by the Aqua Foundation Group – Outstanding Contribution towards cause of Sustainability – Social Sector – Delhi
Limca Book of World Records – Innovation in converting 4 acre slopy waste land into cultivable land
The International Green Apple Award for the Built Environment and Architectural Heritage – Green Buildings – The Crystal, Royal Victoria Docks, London
Green World Ambassadors Award – Environmental Best Practise – The Crystal, Royal Victoria Docks, London
The Green World Award – Symbiotic Recycling Systems for Sustainable Habitats – Bucheon City, South Korea
Aqua Excellence Award by the Aqua Foundation Group – Protection of the Quality and Supply of Freshwater Resources –
5 Star Ratings by Investors in Zero Waste, the UK’s premiere zero waste recognition scheme – Symbiotic Recycling Systems for Sustainable Habitats
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Award – Eco-Tourism as a Catalyst for Rural Development
Water Digest Water Award by Water Digest, in association with UNESCO, Ministry of Water Resources & ASSOCHAM – Best Water NGO – Water Education
Smart Village Award by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) – Sustainability Project in Wada District of Maharashtra
National Agri Tourism Award by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and Ministry of Agriculture and Horticuture, Maharashtra – Eco-Tourism as a Catalyst for Rural Development
Spirit of Humanity Award by by AmeriCares Organization – Livelihood
Aqua Excellence Award by the Aqua Foundation Group – Green Housing – Social Sector
Green Village Platinum Ratings from Indian Green Building Counsil – Green Village
Recognition by the Indian Green Building Council as an IGBC fellow – For Contribution to the Green Building Movement
CONSTRUCTION WORLD Architect and Builder (CWAB) Awards – Green Buildings (2018)
FICCI India Circular Economy Awards – Circular Economy Innovation
National Energy Globe Award From Energy Globe Foundation – Integrated Water Conservation and Protection
GRIHA Exemplary Performance Award 2020 – Green Buildings and Habitat
15th State Level Energy Conservation award – Ecological Conservation award of Maharashtra State
WTM Responsible Tourism Awards – Global Winner – Decarbonising Travel & Tourism
Faith for Earth Counsillor for India by United Nations Environment Program – Govardhan Ecovillage sustainability initiative
Accreditation to multiple United Nations Body including UNEP, UNCCD, UN ECOSOC and UNCBD – Govardhan Ecovillage Project