Oblivious to where our food comes from, compelled by our privilege to consume pre-packaged and factory made products, a higher number of people are veering off the grid to explore a back-to-basics lifestyle even if it's only for a weekend. According to newly released data by Future Market Insights, the global demand for agro-rural tourism will grow by a robust 5.8 per cent in the next decade and with more than half our country's land under cultivation, it comes as no surprise that farm stays are blooming with vigour. Whether it means refuelling abandoned villages with new capital or augmenting a pastoral livelihood that promotes homegrown remedies to citybred problems, the advent of ecologically sensitive backpacking is instrumental in dissolving the rural-urban divide. Here are five organic home stays curated for a taste of the great outdoors.
The former cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar recently celebrated his 50th birthday at this 10-acre Konkan hideout in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. Flanked by a perennial stream, the six thatched roof cottages built in a traditional machaan style overlook lush plantations thriving with coconuts, spices and banana trees. The Samanth family will initiate you in the ways of Malvani sustainable living, your meals slowly cooked on mud stoves and ladled from earthen pots upon leaf plates (patravali). Visit a potter's village, learn to draw water from a well or drive up to Bhogwe beach rumoured for its halcyon tides and golden sand.
Book your room at Maachli here.
Poised 7,700 feet above ground, illumined by the ghostly pallor of solar lanterns and resonant with the bleating of mountain goats, Goat Village is an inevitable pit stop on your trek to the summit of Nag Tibba in Garhwal, (Uttarakhand). Hewn from the koti banal technique of constructing seismic proof structures, the rooms overlooking natural terraces have dormer windows letting in copious amounts of daylight while the herb garden adjacent to the cafeteria is where the visitors can twiddle their green thumbs at the dizzying heights of this home stay. Sans room service, the ethos of Goat Village proposes a revival of the simple and minimalistic lifestyle that eschews wasteful luxury but does not cut corners on comfort.
Book a stay with them here.
Harkirat Singh Ahluwalia's family has been engaged in citrus horticulture for the past two generations so starting a home stay in 2006 was an opportunity for them to share the farmer's journey from seed-to-sickle. Cajoling visitors to witness ploughing of the fields, milk cows by hand and identify the different trees while riding a tractor, Ahluwalia hopes this can foster a greater appreciation for physical labour in the rural areas of our country. Pluck a tangerine or two as you meander on your way to a luxury tent surrounded by fruit groves, peacocks and the Shivalik ranges at the Citrus County Farm Stay in Hoshiarpur, Punjab.
Plan a visit to the estate here.
The Bankli countryside in Pali district of Rajasthan is known for its ancient temple caves, salt lakes where exotic pelicans and flamingos congregate and the adventures of exploring leopard riddled forests at the edge of rocky foothills. Amidst such a diverse landscape, the Country Retreat offers four quintessentially lavish rooms filled with antique lamps and carpets, open jeep safaris to go nilgai-spotting and the heartfelt hospitality of seasoned traveller-founder Krishnapal Singh Champawat. Get your hands dirty tilling or minding the cattle and leave your workaday worries behind.
Experience a staycation at the Country Retreat here.
Run by a local Kuttanadam family who has graciously opened their reclaimed 1950s property to visitors, Philipkutty's Farm comprises of five idyllic villas roosting on an island in Lake Vembanad, near Kumarakom in Kerala. Experience the inter-cropping techniques that produce the flourishing toddy, nutmeg and cocoa harvests or lounge in a country boat to catch a glimpse of rare birds that flit above the backwater canal. As you step outside the wraparound verandas, you can observe fireflies glimmering in the dark while you follow the fragrance of Syrian Christian cuisine wafting from the communal dining pavilion.
Book your next holiday at Philipkutty's Farm here.
If you enjoyed reading this, here's more from Homegrown: