An experimental farm, environmental education center, and center for dialogue between spirituality, culture, and environmental issues
Amrit Sagar (“Ocean of Nectar”) Environmental Center is a working model of the best environmental practices and a teaching center demonstrating traditional and innovative sustainable practices readily available and practical to implement. The facility is situated on the undeveloped eastern bank of the Ganges River, directly across from the sister project Bal Ashram, and a short boat ride from Varanasi’s city center.
Modern Varanasi is an urban concrete jungle of 1.5 million people who never breathe clean air, experience a moment of relaxation beneath a tree or see their children play on clean soil. Amrit Sagar not only gives people an inspiring vision of ecological improvement, but also the tools to make that vision real.
In a city that used to be called the “Forest of Bliss”, today, little to no parks or open green space can be found. Concrete buildings have replaced gardens and fields along the west side of the banks of the sacred river. In addition, throughout the city, an influx of tourists and pilgrims have caused increased development that the present infrastructure does not support. The roads cannot handle the number and kind of vehicles; an inadequate waste management system results in littered city streets and neighborhoods; and an overwhelming pollution is caused by generators (due to frequent power cuts), burning of trash and a highly increased number of diesel/gasoline fuel vehicles.
Amrit Sagar might be the first of its kind in Varanasi and surrounding region where:
- Eco-friendly gardens and educational parks run along the east side of the river which until now has been untouched by developers and government agencies, but who already have their eyes on these precious plots of land.
- School children come and learn about the environment, gardening and planting, and participate in being kind to the environment. They can play in a natural environment with trees and grass, which are nonexistent in the city today.
- All can learn how to implement innovative ideas such as recycling, composting, organic farming, eco-friendly building and use of sustainable energy (solar, bio-gas, wind) with materials readily available in the city.
- The ancient science of Ayurveda will be preserved by plantation of herbs and other medicinal plants which are quickly disappearing in forests far from the city.
Amrit Sagar includes the following:
- An organic dairy with a few cows
- A bio-gas system
- Solar technology
- Sustainable farming: organic vegetables, herbs and Ayurvedic medicinal plants
- A visitor’s center and small residential area
- Tours for the general public
- Educational programs for school children and youth from the city to learn about planting, composting, recycling, conservation and sanitation
- Educational programs for regional farmers to learn about sustainable practices they can implement on their farms