You can’t really imagine India until you go there – that’s been told many times and it’s true.
As we’re preparing another natural building program for early 2014 in Kurumbupalayam village with Buddha Smiles, I respond to inquiries and will share some past impressions and info here.
The leaders of Buddha Smiles are inspiring change-makers and peace activists from the university in Delhi and Chennai.
I have been to the Workshop site 3 times so far. Each time the program was diverse, with teachers from different cultures and participants from all over the world.
The location is outside a small village called Kurumbupalayam, not far from Kanyambadi town. Villagers produce bricks and live very simply. The village is surrounded by farmland, where rice, millet and vegetables grow. People move around by bicycle, some by motorcycle and few by car. But buses are frequent and loud!
Not at the school site though. It’s an oasis of quiet, really, except the sounds of the children. There is an operating elementary school appropriately called Garden of peace. Part of the land is covered with fields and of course buildings supporting a holistic education.
Our natural building program this time is going to build guest cabins, using a mix of natural building techniques.
I will be teaching and expect that others may join. In my workshops I hope to bring out everybody’s strength while allowing for their weaknesses too. So no anxiety around performance!
The day begins with yoga at dawn around 6 if you wish. Then tea/coffee and later, after some activity, a typical local breakfast. Food is vegetarian, south Indian- that means spicy! But there are usually some fresh milk-curds to cool it down.
Facilities are simple: during my last visit people slept in tent-like structures with platforms that were raised off the ground (that keeps bugs and moisture out.). You can use your own tent as well. Most importantly: bring a mosquito net.
It will be dry season, and nice temperatures in the mid-twenties, getting warmer toward February.
This years program contains a field trip to hill tribes – I look forward to seeing traditional ways of life in the hills of Tamil Nadu. While this is an organized trip other possibilities exist:
Tiruvannamalai is in easy reach and worth a visit. It is known for its huge temples and several ashrams . Temples are a main attraction in Tamil Nadu, and its well worth travelling around to visit some of the big sites.
And then there’s Auroville- you may have heard about its central temple or its ecological building courses. Auroville is an ecovillage made up of several pods of housing. Population mixed Tamil, German, and French mainly.
But back to the program. I’m not sure yet exactly which techniques we will use, but there will be a variety. The beauty of building with earth is that one can combine the methods easily and I will be teaching about what makes sense in the situation. I have experience in many climates now and we will be discussing this.
I intend to involve participants in creating the final workshop schedule, so that areas of special interest can be included by request and offerings from the group may find time.
You can expect natural home design, connection to Permaculture, how to build small, what to avoid, climate conscious design, earth building techniques, and local construction.
There will be hands-on work and lecture style presentations daily, as well as discussions and exchange. And free time for exploring, making friends and reflection.
I hope this helps you choose this program for your winter vacation- a true getaway with purpose!
Registration is open now: please email