Many times, the city lights blind us for a moment and we want to break free and go far off from the bustle. The air around us chokes our breath and the skyscrapers too appeal us no more. We crave for sunlight in our room and this is the time when we desperately need a break; we want clear skies, serene surroundings, priceless sunlight and pristine nature.
Explore the charming retreat of the real rural life, its exquisite art, colourful culture and rich heritage. Guests can indulge in activities such as bird-watching, jungle walks, rain water harvesting, ploughing fields, drawing water from wells and understanding different steps of farming will take us back to our origins, instilling a fresh feel. The very idea of sleeping under the clear skies and gazing at stars simply delights us! This concept, termed as farm tourism, is an in thing, which is luring tourists, from the world across.
These farm stays restore the pristine beauty of nature. They take us back to the fundamentals where we feel refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated! In this issue, we peep into the rural bylanes that take us closer to our origins, redefining newer perspectives that emerge in the form of farm tourism. It is a brilliant way to experience the rural life of India, be it in the form of art, culture, heritage, etc.
In the Lap of Nature
Acres Wild is situated in Coonoor near Ooty in South India. Spread over 22 acre, it is run by the renowned Bollywood personality Mansoor Khan, fondly remembered for his super hit film QSQT and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. Twenty-three years ago, he left the bedazzling lights of Mumbai to be in the lap of nature, to ensure easy availability of peace of mind, coupled with healthy life and healthy food.
Both, he, and his wife, Tina, got into the manufacturing of organic cheese, which has now become a part of Coonoor history. There are school children, technocrats and families visiting the farms who love to learn the art of cheese-making. When asked why he left the cacophony of Mumbai, Mansoor says his idea was to live in a quiet place, where he could go back to the fundamentals.
Acres Wild indulges in the process of making bricks, harvesting rain water and making organic food stuff. They also have a biogas plant set-up to recycle the waste, ensuring the supply of clean energy around. The guests here feel calm in the pure and pristine surroundings as there are no sights of clustered concrete jungles. Even Khan and his wife feel excited to share the knowledge of cheese-making with school groups, couples, individuals, etc., who visit the farm.
Formed with an aim of shaping an eco-friendly, holistic and self-sustaining life style, Acres Wild also serves the purpose of being a homestay with Bed and Breakfast where there are three guesthouse cottages with a total of five rooms.
Acres Wild grows Azolla in ponds and Napier Grass in a fenced section for cows. They are growing organic vegetables as well. To attract Gaurs (Bison), it maintains gaps in the fence and natural bodies of water to improve the habitat. The key activity at the farm is to make gourmet or artisan cheese from the milk of their hybrid Jersey and Holstein cows. Here, guestscan also learn making the Gourmet Artisan cheese in two days by taking the compact two-day cheese-making course. However, the course is available only for guests staying at the farmstay.
Captivating Land of Kutch
For a different rural experience, head to Hodka village in Gujarat which is located in the Kutch district, 65 km from Bhuj. This beautiful place presents a mix destination of both the desert of clay and sand, that makes it different, distinguished and unique. The village has a diverse eco-system, with the wetlands providing home to over 100 species of birds during the winter months. The Hodka community operates a rural resort here called Shaam-e-Sarhad.
Designed in local style and exquisitely decorated with mirror work, textiles and other local crafts, the Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort is the perfect gateway to a genuine travel experience in India.The area surrounding the village is beautiful and it’s ideal to experience the captivating lands of Kutch. You can enjoy star-gazing, guided walks, bird watching excursions, camel safaris, embroidery workshops and traditional dining here!
There Is Much To Do WhenVisiting Hodka Village
Hodka Artists Village
This place gives an opportunity to explore the typical village houses, meet different artisan families and admire the finest embroidery styles and leather crafts. The well-decorated and painted traditional houses are fascinating and helps in learning more about the village life and its customs. Even the fine embroideries such as Pakko, Neran, Kambhiro, Applique work, etc., are worth admiring. Visitors can pick up bed sheets, pillow covers, handbags, stoles, armlets, applique patchwork, rustic jewellery and trinkets galore. The works could be purchased directly from artisans here. This place also houses a Virda or well, that sheds light on the ancient process of water harvesting in the Banni dry-lands, which are a flat and dry extension of land similar to Rann of Kutch.
Great Rann of Kutch
The mesmerising view of sunset from flat white land is far beyond description and offers everlasting memories.
Housing beautiful traditional mud houses called as Bhungas, this village showcases the mastery of the local folk in mud craft to its fullest brilliance. This place has also garnered tourists’ interest for the amazing Mirror Work and fine Mutwa (Community) embroidery which is being done by using tiny mirrors.
This place has made a mark on global map for the beautiful pottery work and should be visited once to know more about this pretty art.
Karodungar (Black Hill)
Known for its marvellous sunset view, there is a road driving to the ‘Dattatray Temple’ at the top of the Karodungar, from where one can admire the marvellous view of the Great Rann.
Connecting With Roots
India’s rural heart is boundless with bountiful attractions, and there is much to see, feel and explore! Visit Anand @ The Satluj, 2 km south of Sri Anandpur Sahib, to discover the charming rustic life. On the banks of the sacred river Satluj, in the holy town of Sri Anandpur Sahib, this farm stay is located in a poplar tree plantation, surrounded by lush green fields typical of rural Punjab. It is built on the agricultural land owned by Sodhi Vikram Singh, a descendant of the former ruling family of Sri Anandpur Sahib. Conceptualised as an ‘eco-luxury’ tourism product which has incorporated many enviromentally sensitive features such as organically grown produce, nature walks on the flood control bund along the banks of the river, the farm has been constructed using locally sourced material to give guests a sense of being surrounded by nature, with modern amenities. Guests can explore the holy town of Sri Anandpur Sahib founded in 1665 by Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib; the historic Naina Devi Temple one of the 52 shakti peeths of the Hindu religion; the Virasat-e-Khalsa Heritage center which traces the history of the Sikh faith, Kiratpur Sahib – the Haridwar of the Sikhs, Bhakra Nangal Dam, Dharamshala – Home of the Dalai Lama, the himalyan town of Manali, and many other destinations.
Explore the rustic rural India and you will find yourself much nearer to your roots!
written by Archana Sharma