Nestled in the hills that overlook the backwaters of Khamboli Dam, is an artists’ village called Avanti Kala Gram. Conceptualised 10 years ago by Pune-based architect Deepak Bachal, there’s enough to interest the art lover and just about anyone who loves nature, as we discovered.

Bird-spotting opportunities abound at the backwaters of the Khamboli Dam near Avanti Kala Gram.
Pic courtesy/ C Gangadharan Menon

We reached at sunset, only to be welcomed by prinias, barbets, ioras and bulbuls while they made their way home. This residential centre offers basic workshops that run into two or three days, in many art forms: painting, sculpture, ceramics, bamboo craft and papier mache, among others. Pune’s most well-known artists: Dinkar Thopte, Murli Lahoti and VR Sali designed these courses.

The space offers a fine view of the water body and the hills in the backdrop. Pics courtesy/C Gangadharan Menon

Apart from these workshops, it’s possible to watch resident artists at work in the six studios, creating art from wood, metal, ceramic and an interesting new material called Siporex: light in weight, yet stone-like in appearance.

Art enthusiasts will have a lot that will interest them

Much to our delight, we noticed our abode for the weekend — the guesthouse — overlooked the dam’s backwaters. The four individual rooms were simple and clean and since it’s built atop a hill, offer a fine view. The scenic and well-stocked restaurant (offering vegetarian and non-vegetarian; tip: order in advance) has a view of the valley. There’s enough inspiration and tranquility for artists and the rest.

An artwork created by an Avanti Kala Gram artist

Next morning, over a cuppa with the founder, he explained his future plans for Avanti. Recently, he formed the Maharashtra Art Forum on his website; already it logged over 300 members. He hopes to leverage this membership to facilitate the activities of Avanti among like-minded artists.

Keen to experience more of nature, we walked past endless farms with flowers brimming over, and towards the backwaters of Khamboli, barely a kilometer away from the centre. Here, water birds offered a memorable spectacle. Clearly, artists at Avanti will never run out of inspiration with nature in abundant display.