December 5, 2014
When you’ve fully explored the delights of Delhi, and developed a talent for dodging its logic-defying traffic, you may just find yourself in need of a rural retreat. A farmhouse stay is the perfect antidote to the busy city, and you can find some lovely Indian getaways within easy reach of the capital. Whether it’s a mango orchard retreat or soul searching in an ancestral heritage property, there’s no reason why you can’t be at one with the universe in style.
The first stop is a Lutyens style four-bedroom haveli that goes by the delightful name of Tikli Bottom. Less than 50 kms south of Central Delhi in the state of Haryana, Tikli Bottom is set in the scenic Aravalli hills. Spend some time lounging in the courtyard in the company of colourful bougainvilleas or sleep on a charpai (rope-strung bed) under the stars. Take a walk around the organic farm with owners Martin and Annie Howard and sample its produce during an informal communal dinner. If you’d like to perfect the art of doing nothing, this is a good place to start.
Another place to find pure tranquillity in the Aravalli hills is Laksh Farms, situated in Mangar Village, off the Gurgaon-Faridabad Highway. Spread over eight acres, the farm uses sustainable methods such as vermi-composting and bio-waste management. If you’re seeking a village experience with the added benefit of air-conditioning, you get the package deal here. Spend your days feeding the geese and watching cows being milked, or observe rotis being made on a chula and take a tractor ride for the ultimate rustic experience.
If it’s the earthy, raw experience that works for you, Banni Khera Farm is a soothing sight for the restless soul. An easy 90 minute-drive from West Delhi, the solar-powered farmhouse is a sustainable, eco-friendly farm-stay set in 10 acres with its own fishing and boating lake. You could also explore the 350 acres of family farmland. The food on offer is vegetarian and there is a vegan option too – this is all about nourishing food for the soul.
From the rural vibe to an orchard retreat, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great Indian getaways near Delhi. A two-hour drive from Delhi, Baghaan Orchard Retreat has 25 cottages surrounded by mango orchards. From bonfires to barbeques, you can unwind here with the whole family and soak up the peace and quiet. In Garhmukteshwar (10 kms away), go fishing, visit the Hastinapur wildlife sanctuary, learn the art of meditation or experience a dolphin boat ride on the Ganges.
Changing tracks in the direction of Rajasthan (via a short flight or a five-hour drive from Delhi), the family-run Savista is a boutique property set in a 12-acre estate of trees, gardens and fields. Located close to Jaipur, this ancestral heritage estate-turned-retreat offers a taste of Rajasthani hospitality. This eco-friendly property grows its own vegetables and grains and uses solar power, with organic produce picked fresh each morning for the day’s meals. Try your hand at block printing at a workshop, take a camel cart tour, do a bazaar walk and book a day trip to Pushkar, Chand Baori (a famous stepwell located in Abhaneri), the Bharatpur bird sanctuary and the Barefoot College in Tilonia.
Another of the great Indian getaways in Rajasthan is Shahpura Bagh, a working farm estate set in 45 acres of gardens and pasture. Admittedly, the eight-hour drive from Delhi (or a four-hour drive from Jaipur and Udaipur) is a little on the long side, but this is an excellent option if you’re planning to explore the colourful state of Rajasthan.
In the early 1900s, Rajadhiraj Nahar Singh of Shahpura mortgaged the family’s property and jewels to create two lakes that form a wetland refuge. Shahpura Bagh is the residence of the rulers of Shahpura and the family lives in one of the two residences on the estate. They will happily share the tales and quirks of royalty with their guests. The second residency, where the guests stay, was built as a manor for visiting nobility.
Spend your time fishing and boating on the lake or take some solitary time-out among the neem, mango and peepal trees on a hammock or a charpai.
No matter which of these Indian getaways you choose, you’re sure to feel fully rejuvenated by the time you leave.
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Have you stayed at any of these rural Indian getaways? Which one would you most like to visit? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Namrata Bhawnani