Do you remember the smell of the soil before the first rain of the season? That favourite sweet-smelling flower that meant it was time to get the woollens out? The change in the slant of the sun-rays and how you shifted your place with it? The pickles that had to carried up to the terrace in the morning and then down at dusk? Do you remember dusk or dawn?
Our modern civilised lifestyles has taken us so far away from the things we loved while growing up, that these experiences remain just a happy memory of the past. Not really!
These memories are still out there, everyday, waiting to be made but we’d choose that chlorinated pool at a resort over that! An increasing number of urban Indian families are heading for “overtly sanitised” and “branded safe” lifestyle and products for their children. Did you completely forget that we used to taste dirt as kids, for fun!
1. Punjabiyat by Itmenaan, Amritsar
Set amidst vast blooming green fields, crisscrossed by long canals, Punjabiyat resort is located about an hour’s drive from Amritsar. The journey to the farm you have would feel you were a million miles away in splendid isolation, out of sight of any roads or houses. The property is stylishly simple four standalone cottages and a spacious lounge nestle in the gleaming expanse of farmland. Expect to pay ₹ 7359 (approximately US $ 110) per room per night for a double room.
2. Tamara, Coorg, Karnataka
Some of us need a complete do-over and that requires a stillness of the mind and a refreshed mind. The Tamara offers all of that and more. Located among the coffee plantations of Coorg, a few days at this resort will replenish your connect with nature and the strength we can draw from it. Apart from the plantation walk, the nature trails, bird watching and yoga, you also have a luxurious spa to soak in.
3. Dewalokam Farmstay Retreat, Karimannoor, Kerala
Dewalokam is the organic ancestral farm of a welcoming Syrian Christian family. The name means “paradise” and the property certainly is that! This farmstay is located at a 90 minutes drive from Kochi airport, in the spice belt of Kerala, bounded by a tranquil river and a nature reserve. Fruit, vegetables, spices, milk, and honey are all produced there. An extensive range of activities is available for guests, including spice walks, village walks, bamboo rafting, temple visits, and cow milking. Or, simply chill in a hammock! A standard double room costs ₹ 8,000 (approximately US $ 120) per night, plus taxes. All meals and most activities are included.
4. Maachli, Sindhudurg Region, Maharashtra
A beautiful farmstay situated in Parule village along the south Konkan Coast of Maharashtra. The closest beaches are Bhogwe and Tarkarli. The name “Maachli” means “elevated huts” in the local Malvani language. The four attractive hut-style accommodations are built deep within nature amongst the Samant family’s coconut, beetelenut, banana and spice plantation. Responsible tourism is a strong focus. Activities include village walks, cooking lessons, farming experiences, trekking. Expect to pay ₹ 3,500 (approximately US $ 53) per night, for twin sharing including breakfast.
5. Destiny Farmstay, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
This one is for the kids! Tucked away, nearly 25 kms rfrom Ooty, this resort has a stable full of horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs and geese. And, of course, farm dogs to watch over them. A huge range of produce is grown on the farm, including coffee, spices, fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. For the adults, there’s a luxury spa, perfect for pampering and unwinding. 35 glorious guest rooms to choose from. Expect to pay around ₹ 7,000 (approximately US $ 105) upwards per night, including breakfast and tax, depending on the time of year.
6. Acres Wild Cheesemaking Farmstay, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
You read that right, cheese-making! This is one experience you must not miss. This 22-acre farmstay is dedicated to organic cheese-making and holistic, self-sustaining living. The farm has cows to provide the milk for its gourmet cheeses, and organic vegetables are grown as well. Guests can participate in a two day cheese-making course (cost ₹ 8,000/ US $ 120, plus taxes). There are three guest cottages with a total of five rooms. Rates range from ₹ 3,000 to ₹ 4,500 (approximately US $ 45-68) per night for a double, excluding taxes. Breakfast is included.
7. Tathagata Farm, Darjeeling, West Bengal
Always wanted to experience life on a tea estate? Tathagata Farm, located 45 minutes from Darjeeling, offers you the experience. In addition to tea, the farm grows cardamom, ginger, vegetables, oranges among other crops. A host of activities can be planned here including plantation tours, trekking, nature trails and guided walks, fishing, picnicking and birding. Expect to pay around ₹ 5,400 (approximately US $ 81) per night for a double including breakfast, plus taxes.
– Text by Priya Tripathy