SRI LANKA - Ulpotha
Ulpotha has been a retreat site for thousands of years and remains a perfect place for a Yoga holiday or an Ayurveda retreat in the heart of Sri Lanka. It's a beautiful hide-away open to guests for holidays and retreats for part of the year and is a place of total peace. You may come here to experience Yoga holidays and Ayurveda retreats and the warm, generous and gentle hospitality the people of Sri Lanka love to offer.
Sri Lanka, Ulpotha
There is no aspiration in Ulpotha to be anything other than what it is - a lovely, playful but honouring folly. The founders and villagers welcome you to enjoy Ulpotha in this spirit.
Photo: Sea Eymere
There is no aspiration in Ulpotha to be anything other than what it is - a lovely, playful but honouring folly. The founders and villagers welcome you to enjoy Ulpotha in this spirit. Though Ulpotha has come to be known as an eco-friendly, vegetarian Yoga retreat that offers Ayurveda, the founders would like to emphasise that it was created for the fun and for the love of it. In other words, it was not purposefully established to be anything in particular. The Yoga, Ayurveda and eco-sensibilities, though of great importance, are not central to its ethos. Ulpotha is there to be enjoyed as one.
When you book a holiday at Ulpotha, the all-inclusive price you pay includes a lot: accommodation, all meals, snacks, drinks, two Yoga classes a day, a one-on-one consultation with our resident Ayurveda doctor, a full day excursion per week's stay, a massage per week's stay, laundry service and the use of bicycles, sauna, steam bath, hot water bathing area and taxes. Since gracious and priceless hospitality is what Ulpotha offers, tipping is not accepted and there are no additional service charges.
Though a consultation with our Ayurveda doctor is included, specific Ayurveda programmes are charged separately. All Ayurveda treatment income goes directly towards funding the Ayurveda clinic operated by Ulpotha that supplies free, year round services to over 5,000 local villagers annually.
Ulpotha itself is run on a non-profit basis. All revenues from guests holidaying in Ulpotha are spent supporting Ulpotha's villagers and the surrounding local community. The rates we charge reflect the delicate balance we need to achieve in generating the funds needed to support Ulpotha without subjecting it to visitor numbers that might overwhelm its natural environment - in other words, it's where our world of ideals must meet the world of the practical.
Ulpotha is run as a self-sustained village, where the vast majority of staff are from immediately surrounding local villages and who live in and largely run Ulpotha themselves. Our resident Ayurveda doctor provides training in Ayurvedic massage and therapies for the treatment centre staff, who are also from either within Ulpotha or from neighboring villages.
Nearly all the food consumed in Ulpotha is grown on site. In addition to growing rice, fruits, vegetables and timber trees, we have recently started growing medicinal plants and trees used for making Ayurvedic medicines We source many of our other supplies and building materials from the immediate locality. Similarly, all the Ayurvedic medicines used in our treatment center are made especially for us locally.
Ulpotha regularly invests in services and amenities for the local community (rebuilding and maintaining the reservoir that is central to local agriculture, creation of a free Ayurveda clinic for the surrounding villages, donations to the local hospitals and temples, all which are done in the lowest profile way possible - ie. without acknowledgements, notices, quid pro quo demands, plaques, etc).
The Ayurvedic treatment center within Ulpotha, which serves paying guests, is used to fund the year-round Free Clinic for the surrounding villages. Only local products and services are made available to guests.
Before their arrival, guests are given an introduction as to what to expect through information provided via our website and a guest information pack.
Once in Ulpotha, we encourage guests to learn more about the local culture and customs through immersion and interaction with the local villagers. Guest participation is encouraged in local ceremonies and traditional gatherings, while keeping them informed of locally acceptable behaviour and appropriate dress. We encourage our guests to visit social projects within the community (such as the Free Clinic) or in surrounding villages (schools for handicapped children, etc) and to support such projects. We regularly hold meetings with and seek feedback from local community leaders. Ulpotha is run by a committee of villagers with help from one of the owners, himself a local. GOs have participated in Ulpotha for the benefit of the local community (e.g. stocking the lake with fish for the local fishermen).
Ulpotha restricts the number of guests at any one time to 23, though the actual number of people visiting Ulpotha at a given time may be more if there are friends and family of the founders present. In any event it is very rare for there to be more than 30 in total. Ulpotha also limits the time it is open to guests to a maximum of 30 weeks in any one year.
Only natural materials are used in the construction of guest and villagers' accommodation, the Ayurvedic treatment centre and Free Clinic (wattle and daub huts with palm roofing). Much use has been made of clay, stone, wood, pottery and fabrics which reflect traditional village practices and aesthetics. We protect the native vegetation within the property (by replanting thousands of local species of trees, replanting of heritage strains of rice, vegetables, rare medicinal plants, etc)
Ulpotha only uses organic farming practices that follow the lunar cycle and use no mechanical means. All crops are hand planted and harvested, while the fields are ploughed and the rice is threshed by buffalo.
We protect the local wildlife by ensuring that their natural habitat is in the least possible way altered and that poachers and hunters are kept away. The local environment is also protected by maintaining the lake and sluice and natural water flows.
No cars are allowed within Ulpotha and guests are encouraged to use bicycles when exploring the surrounding areas.
By design there is no electricity in Ulpotha and life is lived by the rhythm of the day. Paths and accommodation are lit by lamps and lanterns. A small solar power panel provides electricity for recharging hand held devices. Food is cooked on open fires and there are no fridges (which were deemed by one of Ulpotha's founders as simply being a means of eating un-fresh food). Water comes from spring-fed wells and guests are encouraged to use it sparingly.
Sewage is treated onsite and no raw sewage is released directly into the environment. Waste is separated and sorted and recyclables (metals and glass) are removed. Guests are encouraged not to bring plastic waste onsite, or to take back what they might bring to their home country when they leave.