SHILLONG, Aug 06: Located 30kms from Shillong town in the village of Rtiang at the Umsning – Mawhati Road, Sanctuary Song Resort, is a unique habitat nestled amidst dense forests. That a resort of its genre actually exists, 5 km inside the Guwahati – Shillong National Highway, can only be ascertained when one treads into the narrow serpentine road snarling through thick forests on either side.
The ride to the resort is both adventurous and joyous since it is free from the choking city roads inundated with chirping of birds and sounds of other insects. This narrow road further narrows down into a kutcha connector that runs alongside a flowing river in order to take the visitors to the resort. With monsoon at its peak, the river is at its broadest spree now and one has to actually ride over the river leading to the resort since the road is submerged by the river water.
The owner of the resort, DD Laloo said that one has to actually know the road beneath the river water or else he cannot drive into the resort. However, a footbridge is made over the river on the other side for moving when river water engulfs the area.
One can actually realize how much man is dependent on nature when they visit resorts, such as this, which is mostly left untouched to its natural formations except few auxiliary structures that are beneficial for those who wants to spend their time there.
Laloo said that when he bought this fifty acres land twenty five years ago, the forest was mostly gone, how he sourced trees of various species and planted them. Today the major attraction of this resort is the forest cover on all sides. A community forest exist in one side of this resort also acts as a boundary. A true nature lover cannot find a better place than this resort which is full of fruit trees and other cash crops. One can see plantations of pineapples, strawberries, chestnut trees besides fruits such as guava, mangoes, mulberries and others in landscaped gardens.
Laloo said that the ripened mulberries are offered with creams as desserts to the guests. The resort is also equipped with a pond that meet its fish requirements and another pond is left untouched for breeding a species of rare turtles.
The resort has good furnished accommodations for thirty peoples, a banquet hall that can hold eighty people together and another accommodation is designed for the elderlies. The interiors of this accommodation have been developed keeping mind the needs of the elderly people.
The resort runs on three types of energies –solar, generator and power supplied by the state government but it is mostly running on solar power and fourteen staff are manning the various departments. A greenhouse type structure houses the laundry department and there are separate quarters for the members of the staff.
If one is fond of adventures then this resort has the facilities too, apart from allowing them to splurge in all that nature has to offer. From a zip line, paintball, mountain climbing, mountain biking and camping, the resort has all these to meet the adventurous needs of a visitor besides fishing / angling, bird watching, bonfires and barbeques.
Laloo said that every year students from various educational institutions from all over the state visit the resort for camping. “We teach them how to put up camps,” he said while showing certain areas earmarked for the purpose. A mess area built with bamboos and hay serves the kitchen, bonfire and recreational purposes.
He also informed that in these camps the local village students are also called to coordinate with the visiting students in order to share their thoughts and values. The students sing, dance and play in the mess area amidst exchanging of culture with each other. The campsite is also attached with a set of well furnished washrooms.
From camping activities, the resort is also catering to those who are interested in mountain climbing. The nearby community forest hill, full of huge stones are used for quenching this thirst of the visitor. Special trekking cycles or bikes are provided by the resort who are interested in navigating the natural paths defeating the barriers that comes their way. Laloo showed a small downhill water flow, near the zip line, which is often used by wild animals during night time. “We have to be extra cautious at this place after sunset. There aren’t any wild animals left now except few wild boars, cats that we may get to see sometimes,” he said. The proprietor has also planted trees especially sourced from the War areas of the state to put in place a root bridge akin to the one at Mawlynnong – which is dubbed as the cleanest village in Asia. He said that the plants are growing and is in the process of formation of the special roots.
A special pentagonal building houses another guesthouse including the residence of the proprietor – who spends his time more here now. Laloo, who is also a successful businessman based in Shillong town, said that this building was designed by his brother-in-law. The specialty of the building is that it is nestled amidst greens with an unending flow of breeze – which is like a natural air conditioner. Around this building, the trees on all sides are perched with orchid saplings on them.
However, the natural beauty somewhat gets diminished by the lack of any reading materials, a library and most importantly any designated place for meditation and yoga – which is so important for those who leave their city life behind in order to remain within themselves among nature. The natural vibration of the place can easily have a subliminal effect on anybody who tries to connect with it.
The resort can also put in place some indoor games, such as, table tennis, lawn tennis, squash and the likes. A fitness gym will be an added advantage. A swimming pool is on the cards, according to the proprietor, the work of which is going to start this winter. The natural terrain of the resort is also ideal for an amphitheater.
Laloo said that he will put up luxurious tents for visitors during the upcoming winter months.
The resort is running for the last two years now, after Laloo has put up a proposal with the state government to procure a scheme, from the union government, for the entire village of Rtiang that is known for its strawberry cultivation. However, whatever strawberry is cultivated in the villages is mostly consumed locally and those that are sourced to few other states in this region. Laloo said that they get visitors on a daily basis when the strawberries season starts as the customers are allowed to pluck the berries on their own from the farmland. This fresh plucking berries right from the farm as per visitors choice is an experience next to nothing.
How did the resort get its name? Unfolding the mystery, Laloo said that the resort is constantly besieged with the sounds of several birds and insects throughout the day. However, it is only at sunset that all forms of insects, frogs and other smaller species gather and make sounds typically in the form of a song, that is, the pitch going high in unison and coming down again in unison. This he said continues from early evening hours till 11 o’clock and from which the resort derived its name. The appropriateness of the name of the resort, which is a must visit site for all nature lover, cannot be misgauged in any manner. “Our aim is to provide satisfaction to the true nature lovers,” said Laloo.