Vanvadi is nestled in the Sahyadri foothills of the Western Ghats, a global ‘biodiversity hotspot’. It is about 10 km from Neral Station (on Central Railway) between Mumbai and Pune. (If you are driving from Mumbai, the distance is about 90-100 km.)

Started in 1994 by over two dozen people, Vanvadi is a lush, collectively regenerated bio-diverse forest of 65 acres on gently undulating land … with brimming water bodies and seasonal streams flowing from mid-June to November. Most of the land was clear-felled just a year or two before it was bought. It now has over 80,000 trees, 90% tree cover, more than 120 traditionally useful plant species, over 50 forest food species … and a host of birds, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids, crabs, etc. 

The numerous ecological services rendered by Vanvadi over the years have significantly benefited surrounding villages and the local eco-system, particularly enhancing the groundwater regime and water security of the down-stream regions; also as a low-cost model of ecological forest and biodiversity regeneration. Organic farming is practiced in about 2 acres.

Over the years, Vanvadi has conducted and hosted a number of events, activities, workshops and gatherings, particularly of an ecological and educational nature, earning considerable appreciative recognition and encouraging media coverage.

We envision an organically evolving ‘eco-versity’ and learning alliance … and a community where people can collaboratively live and learn, supporting each other in symbiotic harmony … like the forest around us! The pristine, unpolluted environs are ideal to interact with the natural elements – earth, water, air, sun, sky. Like-minded souls interested in learning, working and sharing can visit or volunteer here.

Some workshops and activities hosted by Vanvadi

  • Forest walks with experienced adivasi elders to learn about traditionally useful plant species
  • Exploring faunal biodiversity – Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, Insects, etc.
  • Natural Farming and organic horticulture of vegetables, fruits; seed saving, etc.
  • Ecological conservation and regeneration of natural resources like soil, water & biodiversity
  • Tribal culture & wisdom; art, music & dance
  • Alternative/meaningful, self-directed education 
  • Natural healing, meditation camps, medicinal plants, etc. 
  • Livelihood skills like hand-weaving, basket making, natural dyes, non-chemical soaps, seed jewellery, etc.
  • Eco-construction with natural materials
  • Early monsoon ‘Forest Foods Foraging’ walks
  • Annual forest festival (Vanutsav) since 2005
  • Treks & trails, camping, swimming, yoga …
  • Forest Food Festival of Konkan Western Ghats
  • Month-long rehabilitation of marginalized women

Present ‘Working Group’ of Vanvadi Members

Vinita and Bharat Mansata
Sarita and Ganesh Subramanium
Divya Bhatia
Mona Patrao
Rashmi Palkhivala
Sraddha Mansata (Bena)
Phiroze Palkhivala

Advance intimation of your visit is essential through any of the persons mentioned above, or through any ‘Working Group’ member of Vanvadi.
All plastics and city litter must be carried back!

Requested Contributions from visitors for 2022:

Day visit: Rs 800 per person, inclusive of lunch and tea. (No charge for children below 6 years). Overnight visit (upto 24 hours): Rs 1,200 per person, inclusive of lunch,  dinner, tea, and shared accommodation in our community house. Longer term visitors are also welcome, but would be expected to help with varied domestic and land related work. We prefer advance payment in our bank account!

Bank Account Details

Name: Bharat Mansata and Rashmi Palkhivala
Savings Account No: 99380100005894
Bank: Bank of Baroda
Branch: Peddar Road, Mumbai
IFSC Code: BARB0DBPEDD (The fifth character is a zero.)


We welcome volunteers who are willing to stay and work for at least 2 months. Please email us a short self-introduction, informing too when and how long you would like to volunteer; also regarding any past visit/s and common friends. A personal interview may be needed too.

Guidelines & General information:

  • The space is managed by Vanvadi members and local adivasi workers, with the help of volunteers. 
  • Your contributions help us meet our costs, including care of the forest, the community house and rainwater harvesting work. They also cover simple, vegetarian food, and shared accommodation. You are most welcome to contribute more … to support us! In case you cannot afford the suggested amount, please talk with us and we shall try to find a suitable solution.
  • Charges for workshops & programs may be extra. For advance bookings for more than 15 people, we can help design a customized program.
  • Please bring: your own bed sheets or sleeping bag and torch; umbrella/rain-jacket and mosquito net (during monsoon); perhaps also any musical instrument you play. A tent too, if convenient to bring.
  • We have no grid electricity and depend on solar lamps, lanterns and candles. 
  • Mobile network is available for Vodafone-Idea and Jio if you walk a few minutes from the community house. (Phones are recharged through power banks.)
  • Your safety is our concern, but your responsibility! Please be mindful of the risks of being in a forest. The big rock pool is over 18 feet deep, and strictly for swimmers only! 
  • We strongly encourage use of ecological, non-chemical products, and urge you to avoid use of plastics, chemical soaps, detergents, toothpaste, etc.


Google location & directions: (you can also see photos of the place here)

By Car: From Karjat, we recommend that you cross the bridge over Ulhas river and take the Karjat-Murbad Road . At Kashele, turn left towards village Vare/Ware. After driving 7-8 km, you will pass a multi-coloured temple on your right. Then just before Vare village, you will see a hand-pump on your left, and a kuchha road just beside it. Turn left here, and drive about 1.5 km till you see a small sign that says (in Hindi) ‘Vruksha Mandir, Vanvadi’. Drive a little beyond till you cross a culvert, immediately after passing the ‘Whispering Woods’ clearance with a few houses. Here, on your right, you would see our Vanvadi sign painted on a wheel-shaped rock embedded in the ground. (Look out for it!) Enter and carefully drive a few hundred metres down this earthen track till you see a small gate and spot our stream-side community house across the large rock pool. 

By Train

From Mumbai: The nearest railway station is Neral (of Matheran fame) on the Central Railway. All the Karjat bound local trains from Mumbai stop here. The Deccan Express from CST to Pune also stops here; but you may need to buy a Rs 75 ticket upto Lonavla. This train starts from CST at 7 am. It halts at Dadar, Thane, and Kalyan, reaching Neral at 8.35 am. The Koyna Express that starts from CST at 8.40 am also halts at Dadar, Thane, and Kalyan, reaching Neral at 10.15 am. At Neral station, exit from the extreme rear end of the platform (towards Mumbai), and walk 5 minutes towards the Neral bus stand. Just before the bus stand, you will find the parking lot for the auto-drivers from Vanjarpada, Devpada and Chinchwadi villages. They all know Vanvadi well, and would charge Rs 250 to bring you (maximum 4 people) right into our Vanvadi forest, close to our community house. (The distance is about 10 km from Neral, and 3 km beyond Devpada.)

Auto Drivers at Neral:
Kiran: 7767065464
Narayan Bua: 9921943656
Sanjay: 7775929912
Sonia: 7507091548

Train from Pune: Take any long distance train from Pune to Mumbai that halts at Karjat; but buy your ticket upto Neral. Get down at Karjat, and catch a Mumbai bound local train from the opposite side of the same platform. (Neral is the second stop after Karjat. Travellers on long-distance trains are allowed board Mumbai local trains the same day.) From Neral station, walk towards the Neral bus stand. As bus frequency is still poor, prefer an auto as stated above. If you find a bus to Ware village waiting at Neral bus stand, this would cost you only Rs 25 or 30. (Ware is about 2 km from Vanvadi.) 

Advance declaration required from each visitor / group leader:

“I / we confirm that: (i) I/we undertake full responsibility for my/our health and safety at Vanvadi. (ii) I/we shall respect the place and the people; and shall carry back any plastics/city litter we bring.”