The Nilgiris Earth Festival 2023

by Team TNF

As the New Year unfolded, brimming with possibilities, we paused to reflect on The Nilgiris Earth Festival (TNEF) 2023 and to thank you for being a part of the journey.

The second edition of TNEF carried forward the momentum of the first, doubling in scale across events, audience engagement, and donor support. Your generosity played a pivotal role in fueling our mission to shine a spotlight on the Nilgiris through food, culture, and ecology. We plan to take TNEF to other cities worldwide beginning with New York City this year, staying true to the vision of connecting Nilgiris to the world and conversely as well.

Your continued support and contributions to The Nilgiris Earth Festival will help showcase the region and draw attention to deserving causes in this UNESCO-recognised Biosphere Reserve. 

We invite you to relive the memories and magical moments of TNEF 2023 below and look forward to seeing you again at TNEF 2024.

Highlights of the festival

The Habba At Keystone Foundation (Dec 21)

Video credits: Dev Abishek

From Dr. Nicola Bradbear’s insights on sustainable beekeeping to tribal dances, indigenous lunches, and Yon Fernandez-de-Larrinoa’s virtual talk, the day buzzed with diverse flavours and local crafts.

The Nilgiris Earth Festival 2023 Awards

A historic moment as the festival honoured Samantha Iyanna and Shobana Chandrashekhar for their remarkable contributions to the Nilgiris, focusing on waste management and the arts. Samantha is determined to keep the Nilgiris clean with her initiatives on waste management through Clean Coonoor and Shobana Chandrashekhar has created The Nilgiris Mountain Arts Initiative.

Nandita Das, an award-winning actress, filmmaker, and activist, graced The Nilgiris Earth Festival 2023. Her inspiring words during The Habba left a lasting impression on all of us.


Tranquilitea: Artisanal High-Grown Nilgiri Teas

Day one concluded with an exhilarating journey at Tranquilitea estate. Sandeep Subramani’s passion for Nilgiri teas took the guests on a sensorial tea-tasting journey, followed by a high tea session featuring in-house delights like savoury mushroom quiches and chocolate mousse.

Farm-To-Fork At Red Hill Resort

The festival began at Red Hill Resort, a 140-year-old tea plantation. Vishanth Kumar’s Kikui farm tour showcased regenerative farm techniques, and a lavish feast spotlighted the family’s love for the land, history, and commitment to farm-to-fork principles.

Paruva – A Badaga Feast (Dec 23)

Hosted by Suresh Belliraj at Odae, Paruva celebrated the Badaga community’s culture and cuisine through traditional music, dance, and a curated exploration of their culinary history.

Seeds Of Wisdom

This session with Devi Lakshmikutty of BioBasics was a full-on flavor expedition and it was full-house as well. Devi not only shared the secrets of heritage rice and millets but also demonstrated how these grains could transform everyday cooking, offering both health and environmental benefits.

No Dig Gardening

No-dig gardening, led by Gayatri Ganesh, emphasized sustainable cultivation without disturbing the soil—a vital lesson about living in harmony with nature.

Gingko Walk

Day Four unfolded with the enchanting “Gingko Walk” at the Lawrence School in Lovedale, Ooty. Guided by poet Shobana Kumar, this was a creative, self-reflective exploration amidst the lush Nilgiris landscape. The participants discovered their ‘inner’ poets, finding inspiration in and a sense of reborn appreciation for the beauty of the nature that enveloped them.

Thought-provoking films on climate and food at Cherry Berry

For The Nilgiris Earth Festival 2023, we collaborated with All Living Things Environmental Film Festival (ALT EFF) to curate films about food and climate where the guests engaged in thoughtful debates about climate change.

The following films were screened:

  • Mhari Topli Ma
  • Logdrum of Pessao 
  • Stink Bug
  • Rearing Giants
  • Planet Soil
  • For Tomorrow Paradise Awaits