The Machan Gallery Vol 3

The Machan resort in Lonavala is an exclusive eco-resort with unique tree houses rising 45 feet above the forest, offering complete serenity to those looking to escape into nature. In the heart of the Western Ghats, The Machan endorses the principles of sustainability, conservation, preservation, and community. 

What is The Machan Gallery?

One of the most important pillars of a community is its artists. As such, The Machan promotes the creation and appreciation of all art forms on its property. ‘The Machan Gallery’ initiative was launched in line with this thought to appreciate the art of photography. Resorts near Pune are a visual treat to the eyes, both real and artificial; but capturing their true beauty and the memories made there requires patience, creativity, and appreciation for the same- all three values that we hold dear to our heart. 

Under ‘The Machan Gallery’ initiative, 10 best captured moments are nominated for public vote on our social media handles. The winners are awarded gifts and vouchers by The Machan. 

What can you capture at The Machan?

The Machan is a haven for anyone interested in photography. Right from simple moments with your significant other or friends relaxing by the pool or in a hammock to stunning sunsets, wildlife, and the pitter-patter of the rains during the monsoon season, capture whatever intrigues you the most. From wide angle shots on a professional camera to pictures taken simply on your phone, we encourage and appreciate all forms of photography, for each photograph is a wonderful memory specially curated by you. 

The Machan is an ideal weekend getaway from Mumbai and Pune for a digital detox and an art indulgence. Plan your next holiday at The Machan and don’t forget to pack your cameras!

Interested in The Machan Gallery? Click here to see the previous nominations. 

The Elegant Partnership of Figs and Fig Wasps

It is widely believed that figs were actually the fruit in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, not apples. The early Olympic athletes used figs as a training food. Figs were also presented as laurels to the winners, becoming the first Olympic ‘medal.’ Chances are that you may be familiar with the common fig or ‘anjeer’ that has found its way from ancient art, to the early Olympics, to gourmet cuisine, and now also to our palettes. 

Fig trees do not flower

It is one of the 750 known species of ficus, and the Machan, one of the finest resorts in Lonavala is home to several of them. If you have seen a fig tree before, you must have noticed that unlike other fruit trees, fig trees do not flower. What is this mystery of the missing flower? This secret is hidden inside the garden that figs themselves make, and the special relationship that they have with fig wasps. 

The relationship between figs and fig wasps

Over 18 millions years ago, fig trees formed an elegant partnership with some tiny, stingless wasps. Fig trees produce a secret garden of tiny flowers, enclosed within a thick wall- this arrangement looks like a fruit. You may say that the flowers are inside the fruit. Each fig species depends on a particular type of wasp to pollinate its flowers. The female wasp enters the fruit through a small opening below it and deposits her eggs in a cavity. In this process, she may lose some parts of her wings and antennae. Along with the eggs, she also deposits the pollen collected from the original host fig. This allows the female flowers inside the fruit to pollinate and mature. After this, the female wasps die.

The female is born pregnant

After the fig develops, wasp eggs develop into larvae. After the pupal stage, the mature male’s first act is to mate with a female- even before she hatches. As such, the female will emerge pregnant. The male digs a tunnel through the fruit for the female to come out of it. The wingless male wasps cannot survive outside the fig for much longer. The females come out of the tunnel, picking up pollen on their way. They then fly to another tree of the same species for the cycle to continue. The pollinator females are fragile and only live for a day or two. However, they can travel upto 160 kilometers to find figs for pollination. 

Keystone species

The now ripened and wasp-free figs emit a fruity odor in the air that attracts squirrels, maynas, barbets, fruit bats, parakeets, macaws, and even the nocturnal loris and civets. Thus, figs are a keystone species as they sustain a variety of wildlife creatures. Scientists are now using figs for this power to kickstart rainforest regeneration in areas that have been locked. 

The Machan is dedicated towards the preservation of all the species in its ecosystem. If you think these creatures are interesting, you should explore our naturalist series and find out interesting facts about more commonly seen insects like termites and spiders to name a few. Our nature paradise near Mumbai is open for you to take a trail and explore every species from frogs and squirrels to thrushes and monkeys. 

Responsible Tourism Society of India to onboards Machan Resorts to Promote Sustainable Tourism Practices in the Western Ghats

The machan and RTSOI

The Machan is pleased to announce that it is now a member of the Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI). This membership will aid in minimizing any negative social, economic, and environmental impact that tourism may have on the ecosystems of the Western Ghats and preserve its communities. 

Who is RTSOI ?

The Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) is a non-profit organization, established with the aim to promote and ensure environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the tourism industry. The founding body of RTSOI comprises 13 widely experienced professionals from relevant fields. They are:

  • Mr. Rakesh Mathur- Former CEO, Bass (IHG) Hotels, South and West Asia; Former President, ITC Welcomheritage Hotels
  • Mr. Steve Borgia- MD, Indeco Hotels, Chennai
  • Mr. Mandip Singh Soin, FRGS- Founder & Managing Director, Ibex Expeditions Pvt. Ltd.
  • Mr. Jose Dominic- MD, CGH Earth Hotels
  • Mr. P.D. Rai- Former Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
  • Dr. Venu V, IAS- Revenue Secretary, Government of Kerala
  • Mr. Ravi Singh- CEO, WWF India
  • Mr. Toby Sinclair- Wildlife Film Maker; Director Indian Safaris
  • Mr. Avay Shukla- Additional Chief Secretary (Retired); Government of Himachal Pradesh
  • Mr. Krishna Kumar Singh- Former MLA and Environmentalist 
  • Mr. Sudhir Sahi- Consultant, UNDP
  • Mr. Niranjan Kharti- Founder, iSambhav; Former GM Environment, ITC Welcome Group Hotels 
  • Mr. Mr. Sarath C.R.- Chief Naturalist, Taj Safaris; Associate Director Evolve Back Resorts

“While we talk about the benefits of tourism, it is also important to acknowledge and take actions against the substantial negative impacts this industry has on a destination’s environment, culture, and locals. The Machan promotes eco-friendly tourism practices and is one of the few resorts that implement plans to be as sustainable as possible and minimize any damage to the Western Ghats,” Machan’s spokesperson. 

The Machan’s strategies for sustainability

  • Use of only LED lighting throughout the property
  • Provide pure mountain water for consumptions in glass bottles from the property’s 300 foot deep bore well
  • Recycle 80% of all greywater and use it to water plants on the property
  • To reduce dependency on fossil fuels, the Machan uses parabolic solar cookers to cook a portion of meals
  • All energy is generated off-grid from renewable resources 

The Machan shares RTSOI’s vision of sustainable tourism and the synergy between the two organizations aims at benefitting the Western Ghats by making positive contributions to the conservation of the biodiversity of the area and generating economic benefits for the local communities. 

The joined resources and efforts of RTSOI and the Machan will result in:

  • Formulating and implementing plans for long-term sustainability efforts
  • Working with relevant bodies of power to establish sustainable tourism practices which will not only include conservation of nature and wildlife but also allow local communities to benefit from tourism
  • Better support for eco-based research
  • Promotion of efficient energy saving practices like water harvesting, use of solar and other natural energy sources, and reducing overall carbon footprint
  • Organize training and other activities for guests, staff and locals to create awareness on ecotourism and sustainable tourism

Additionally, RTSOI will help The Machan network with sustainability experts and offer solutions to problems relating to sustainability, and inspire other resorts in Lonavala . As a member, the Machan will have a medium to share its best practices with other member organizations and promote its vision.

The Naturalist Diaries: Termite Mounds, Soldiers and the Queen.

The Machan is an eco-friendly resort in Lonavala set in a recovering forest ecosystem in the hills of the Western Ghats. Its forests are home to one of nature’s best builders that are often only looked at as domestic nuisances. When you think of termites, probably the only thing that comes to your mind is that they’re wood eaters. However, termites or white ants are fairly interesting creatures with more than 2,000 known species in the world, and there is a lot one can learn about them. 

Termites are blind

Termites are small ant-like insects that live in mounds or nests on the ground. An interesting fact about them is that most worker and soldier termites are blind by virtue of not having eyes at all! They have sense organs located on the base of their antennae and tibiae that allow them to sense vibrations. Scientists have observed that some species choose which food sources to infest by sensing vibroacoustic signals emitted by various pieces of wood. They also use vibrations to communicate with one another. 

Termites versus Ants

Although their social structure resembles that of ants, termites are the descendants of cockroaches while ants are the descendants of wasps. Unlike ants, termites are strictly vegetarian and feed on dead wood, moss, and lichens. Ants are in fact the number one enemies for termites. Occasionally, termite and ant colonies that are near each other will go to war over territory and access to food.

Termite mounds

The construction of a mound begins from under the ground and has the same height below ground as it has above. The worker termites are responsible for building these mounds by mixing soil and their saliva. Due to its architecture, the mound is essentially air conditioned and remains seven degrees cooler than the temperature outside. Each nest or mound easily houses millions of termites in hundreds of chambers. 

The queen and mother of all termites

The inner sanctum or the queen’s chamber is the most guarded chamber of the mound. The queen is the mother of these millions of termites. A healthy female can lay more than 30,000 eggs in a day. She is attended by the worker termites responsible for feeding her, grooming her, and carrying her eggs into another chamber for hatching. Out of these eggs, nymphs are born that grow up to be workers. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world. Some termite queens may live between 30 and 50 years, reproducing annually and founding numerous colonies.

Ecosystem engineers

The height of the tallest termite mound recorded is 42 feet. It is found in the Republic of Congo. Although they are considered pests in houses, they play the role of ecosystem engineers in a forest. This is because they decompose all dead material from the forest floor. 

The Machan is dedicated towards the preservation of all the species in its ecosystem. If you think these creatures are interesting, you should explore our naturalist series and find out interesting facts about more commonly seen insects like butterflies and spiders to name a few. Our nature paradise near Mumbai is open for you to take a trail and explore every species from frogs and squirrels to thrushes and monkeys. 

Have you watched our previous video on the love story of frogs? Click Here