Pragati Resorts: Rediscover the Unblemished Vedic Living

Dr GBK Rao | Founder, Pragati Resorts | Vedic living | Indian business magazine
Dr GBK Rao | Founder, Pragati Resorts | Vedic living | Indian business magazine

The Vedic culture with its roots in ancient India is said to hold key answers on how to lead a happy, peaceful and prosperous life. Its practices are not bound to any religion and can be followed by any human being who wishes to spend a good life. ‘The Vedas’ which have been the mirror to the Vedic period have often been said to hold the guidelines related to the way human beings should live. Natural living or living by nature is highly endorsed by the Vedas. It emphasizes on the fact that nature is perfect and has created all creatures for the sole purpose of maintaining a balance on earth. Every living soul whether animal or plant when disturbed or eliminated creates an imbalance that directly or indirectly affects every other being. The Indian sages still lead their lives as per Vedic traditions. But most of the population now seems to have either forgotten or is unable to follow the teachings that have been passed down since generations.
Modern Problems – Age-old Solutions
During the earlier days, wealth flowed from towns to villages. Dr G.B.K Rao, born and brought up in an agricultural family in Andhra Pradesh saw the prosperity of farmers and how they were treated as real kings who would provide food considered as Amrut or Elixir. His early life and early education at Vyasashram near Kalahasti provided him knowledge of traditional farming and an early reinforcement of Indian culture, devotion, meditation and Vedic approach to knowledge. Times changed and he saw the reversal of farmer’s fate with the introduction of high yielding varieties, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers turned poor and diseased and were now forced to give adultered food akin to poison, hitting hard on the health and well-being of present and future generations. He soon realised that there are two threats in the world: hunger and pollution. The solution to these two threats is in biodiversity and the Vedic philosophy of “Live and Let Live.” The Vedic verse “Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu” means that the “Chaitanyam” or Soul in all living creatures is divine. Having understood that today’s threat can be met by strengthening and developing biodiversity, he established Pragati Resorts and Biodiversity Knowledge Park in1994.
Pragati – Where Nature is Nurtured
Pragati was established with the sole objective to protect our biodiversity and environment. It includes 18 villages which were a NO-GO Area of dry and arid land, earlier a limestone quarry where trees were cut, the sand and lime were dug-up and sold on an auction basis. Dr Rao, with his team, has transformed Pragati into a globally renowned man-made Biodiversity Knowledge Park. Spread over 2500 acres. It has more than 800 varieties of herbal and medicinal plants, sacred vanams or forests and heritage cows. The Pragati Biodiversity Knowledge Park brings to light the Bharatiya Rishi Samskriti and Vedic living practices and is visited by scores of national and international visitors.
Pragati has taken a gigantic task of identifying rare sacred herbal and medicinal plants. The valuable heritage plant treasure is planted in groups of specific importance. These Pavitra Vriksha or Sacred Trees are planted here to get the desired impact as enshrined in the Vedas. The aroma released by these plants cleanses the body of toxins and helps in the creation of spaces free of bad bacteria, virus and mosquitoes. As per ‘Charaka Samhita’, the Vedic Medicinal book, Pragati has identified 55 diseases which need 10 herbal plants each. So in total, it has 450 herbal plants which can cure all the 55 diseases.
When at Pragati
Pragati Green Resorts is a one-of-its-kind resort in the country as it is essentially a man-made Eco-village. It makes for the most welcoming destination for recreation, event and health in the lap of nature. It is an ideal retreat for the aware, creative and playful nature-lover. Its services allow visitors to spend a vacation plucking aromatic herbs for tea and swimming in the pool with birds with something or the other for the entire family or group. The resort property houses everything from cricket fields, golf course and naturopathy spa to ponds filled with ducks and lovely sculptures and fountains every few meters. Patrons can enjoy:

  • the specially brewed herbal tea made from organic ingredients,
  • take a walk down the green path,
  • heal themselves by just sitting and inhaling the air purified by sacred trees in the vanams,
  • care for the cows in the goshala
  • learn about the medicinal plants in the garden.

For staying, the resort offers family executive suites, executive rooms, cottages. The resort is well equipped to handle and arrange for conferences & corporate events, reunions & get-togethers, birthdays & anniversaries and weddings. For wellness, Pragati offers ayurvedic massages and therapies like Shirodhara, Lava stone Massage and Aroma Therapy. It also facilitates meditation and spa. It also offers packages like school package, Amrutha Ahaaram package, pre-wedding packages and more.
A Humanitarian Founder
Dr G.B.K. Rao, an Engineer-turned-Environmentalist, is the Architect of Pragati Biodiversity Knowledge Park and the Founder Chairman & Managing Director of Pragati Group. After obtaining his Engineering Degree from Osmania University, he began his entrepreneurial stint by starting MECH FAB Engineering works in Pune. In 1991, he established a Cobalt-Vanadium base high-speed steel plant Powmex Steels Ltd. In Orissa. During this time, he adopted 15 villages and imparted education, skill development to Rural youth in the areas of growing vegetables; modern agriculture methods, household industries etc thereby their living standards have been improved drastically. Then Chief Minister of Orissa Sri Biju Patnaik appointed him as Advisor to Government of Orissa for the skill development of the rural youth.In 1994, consumed by a passion to ensure India’s medical heritage must take its rightful place as one of the world’s greatest healing system, he finally laid the stones of Pragati intending to usher “Vyadi Rahita Samajam” or “Disease-free Society” by harnessing the health-giving and healing power of plants.
Dr Rao is now an authority on all matters relating to India’s environment, biodiversity, Vedic living & rishi Sanskriti, natural farming, sacred vanams, bio-pharma, yoga & meditation, naturopathy and spa, and more. The CMs of two Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have recognized Pragati as a role model to follow. He sums up his works as “My life’s movement from an Engineer-Industrialist to an Architect of India’s first and unique Pragati Biodiversity Knowledge Park has been remarkable and impactful. I owe my success and achievement to my parents, siblings, teachers and all well-wishers.” Describing the hard work that went in as a team, he says, “It took us nearly a decade to restore greenery in the area. Pragati stands testimony to how focused and dedicated efforts through Pavithra Vrukshalu (sacred herbal, medicinal and aromatic plants) natural farming, water harvesting, root-zone plantation and 3-Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) how a wasteland can be converted into a green area with rich biodiversity and pollution-free environment.”
Be the Change to Bring Change
Dr Rao has always had his focus on matters close to his heart. His student days and intial work position could have taken him places and given him a lot of opportunity to learn different practical trades and become an expert in design, metallurgy, and fabrication.  But he let go of it all, as he says, “At my core I am always a farmer, and the childhood days in paddy fields, streams, rivers and nature left deep and memorable experience of nature’s beauty, purity and bliss.” His first chance to bring a change came in 1991, when he established Pomex Steels at Titlagar, Bolangar District of Orissa which reported the highest number of hunger deaths. He took the initiative to provide work to the local people, organized skill development programs to youth and adopted more than 15 villages to carry out economic development activities. From Rs.2/- as their wages, we have increased it to Rs.90/- The people of 15 villages who were predominantly tribals were provided with skills, clothes, food and work. The face of these villages was completely changed. This was just the cue to the future he wanted to create with  Vyadirahitha Samajam at the centre.
Awards and Recognition
Pragati has received several awards over the years. It is one of the world’s first resorts to obtain integrated environmental management systems certification ISO 9001:2018, ISO 14001:2015; OHSAS 18001:2007 and is also the winner of several states, national and international awards including:

  • Award for Excellence in the category of Eco-Friendly Tourist Destination for the years 2003–2004, 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, 2011-2012, 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 and “Best Maintained Three Star Hotel (State)” for the year 2010-2011 “Best Classified Hotel 3 Star” from the Tourism Department, Governments of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana.
  • Dr G.B.K. Rao, CMD, Pragati Group received the ‘ GLORIOUS NANDI AWARD’ in 2017.
  • ‘Excellence in Environmental Management’ Award in 2008-2009 by FAPCCI in 2010.
  • Inspirational Leaders of New India 2013 at the event held at Las Vegas, USA organised by Planman Media.
  • ‘Talented Conservator Award’ in 2012.
  • MIBRT Global Green Technology Award received from Maryland India Business Roundtable Inc., the USA.
  • Dr GBK Rao CMD Pragati Group received the Swatch Bharat Award on medicinal, Herbal and Aromatic Plants.

The crowning glory of the group has been United Nation’s recommendation to replicate Pragati’s rich experience as declared by the present and former Executive Secretaries at UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias (UN Executive Secretary, Convention of Bio-diversity) and Ahmed Djoghlaf (Former UN Executive Secretary, Convention of Bio-diversity) at the 11th Conference on biodiversity held in Hyderabad during 2012 urged the gathering of 650 mayors from 195 countries to do so.
Spreading the Awareness to Go-Green
Pragati now has more than 32 lakh Indian herbal heritage aromatic sacred plants with facilities for huge water harvesting and having the best landscapes as per the existing contours and maintaining the local specimen. It has a collection of various rare, exotic and endangered plants under one roof. Birds that survive only in zero pollution atmosphere are present in Pragati. With all these factors, Pragati has emerged as the destination of eco-tourism, health tourism and medical tourism and ultimately has become the destination of joy. Today we need urban forestry because no real farmer is available in villages. The green cover of cities has seen a sharp drop from 35% to 4.5%. By following Pragati’s type of plantation it is possible to get back 35 per cent plantation as urban forestry to save the planet.
Pragati gets more than a billion seeds every day from mother plants, where the soil is not polluted. Best selection of plants is taken and propagated by seed, cutting, grafting, gootis or by tissue culture. These are distributed to forestries, schools, colleges, temples and many ashrams and bank colonies. It also promotes Earth Day, Environment Day and Biodiversity Day and goes out to public areas and distributes plants. Awareness is created on the importance of sacred plants, their health benefits and how to prepare the soil, treat seeds, plant and cultivate.
Towards a Clean and Green World
Through Pragati Biodiversity Knowledge Park Dr Rao wishes to reinstate the inordinate linkage between Bharatiya Samskriti and Sacred vanamoolikalu. He insists, “My objective is two-fold, restore the recognized, noble and superior position of the farmer in India, and creating a healthy and happy individual through Amrutha Ahaaram.” Pragati’s focused goal is to re-discover and bring back Sanatana Dharma (Universal Law) to society. Sanatan is ageless, timeless and forever youthful. Pragati draws its profound philosophy from Lord Sri Krishna who is standing under the tree with the cow and its calf beside him. This means that the tree and cow are the basis of human life, the prana pradaatas (life-givers) and aarogya pradatas (health givers). Team Pragati believes, “If We Protect Nature, Nature Will Protect Us.”

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