Published on 2 September, 2012 in The Times of India
The sight of lush farms blooming with sarso (mustard), a merry breeze stroking the green grass and the gentle aroma of freshly baked rotis (Indian bread) daubed with homemade ghee, envisage these three things together and that’s when you’ll know you’re in Punjab!
Delhi is awkwardly located in terms of geography, especially when it comes to planning a weekend getaway. It’s either the hills of Himachal that beckon us to their imposing grandeur, the historical streets of Rajasthan or the scenic landscapes of Uttarakhand that top the list of brief sojourns. But this time, I wanted something simple, something secluded yet close to home. A quick research on the internet landed me on Shivya Nath’s travel website called ‘India Untravelled’. Her travel stories about lesser known destinations in India were intriguing and what caught my attention was a place called Prakriti Farms.
Situated in Rupnagar, Punjab, approximately an hour away from Chandigarh, Prakriti Farm Stay is a conservation initiative by Netar Pal Kaushal, the owner who also happens to be the host. Punjab is renowned for its prosperous agricultural reserves and warm hospitality, and Prakriti Farm Stay are the best bet that proves it so. Spread over 10 acres of land, the organic farm stay has been groomed to ecological perfection and quite lovingly at that. Several kinds of trees, blossoms, vegetables and herbs are grown around the place. Needless to say, there’s no trace of pesticides in the process. There are Maltas, lemons, Mint, sarso, potatoes, Poplar trees, and Neem trees among many others. There’s also a chicken coup at the back that is home to several Indian Asils, a breed that was used for cock fights and is now on the verge of extinction. This is Kaushal’s humble attempt to protect a few of the lot.
In the lap of nature
Perched atop the cliff is a cottage, tucked away from rest of the world. The view is nothing less than a splash of fresh colours on a painting. The range of young Shivaliks forms the backdrop and the green spectacle travels beyond an indefinite expanse. The traditional looking cottage with thatched roofs is plush from inside with modern amenities in place – vitrified tiles, a fully equipped bathroom, rocking chair, and a kitchenette with tea/coffee maker. But among all the interesting furnishings, my favourite were the patio swing chairs. The timing of the rains favoured with my visit and after a sumptuous lunch, I spent the afternoon sipping tea and watching the monsoon of Punjab wetting the grasslands, turning their green colour, greener.
On the other side, are three Swiss tents complete with comfortable beds and attached bathrooms. So people who’re in the mood for a camping experience can dump their bags and start a bonfire right outside their tents. It’s interesting that accommodation available comprises only these three tents and one cottage; my guess is that it somewhat helps maintain the tranquillity of the place. Less people and hence, lesser commotion!
When in Punjab, do as the Punjabis do!
Evenings at Prakriti Farm stay are best enjoyed with Kaushal and family, over uncountable cups of hot tea, assorted pakodas and unending conversations on politics, literature and life in general. The darkness of the night befalls almost stealthily and the chat gradually turns realistic. With the host recalling stories about leopards visiting the farm for a prey, pythons making sporadic appearances in the backyard, and wild boars often strolling about in the vicinity, you can almost feel the adventure coincide with the nip in the air. After a while, dinner is served. The delicious mah-ki-dal cooked in true Punjabi style in an earthen ware for over 4 hours remains the highpoint of the course.
Prakriti Farms do not promise a hotel-like experience. What it does promise is an experience that would make you want to re-visit the place. There’s everything that you’d possible need on a holiday – solitude, serenity, company of friends, humble food, and peace.
How to get there
By air: Chandigarh is the nearest airport. Pick ups are available on request.
By train/bus: The closest railway station and bus stop is Ropar. Pick ups are available on request.
By road: Prakriti Farms is about 45 km from Chandigarh and approximately 300 km from Delhi.