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Punjab offers village life with a ‘luxury’ tag

Far from the maddening crowds of the cities,a dream holiday in the rural heartland and that too in plush farmhouses is something...

Written by Rajni Shaleen Chopra | Chandigarh |
October 21, 2009 2:39:40 am

Far from the maddening crowds of the cities,a dream holiday in the rural heartland and that too in plush farmhouses is something you see in only Yash Chopra’s movies. Now Punjab is selling this idea to tourists. Owners of 23 farmhouses have come together with the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Board to offer tourists experience of a village life,combined with the comforts of staying in a luxurious farmhouse.

The Tourism Department and the farmhouse-owners have been inspired by the success of Citrus County,a farmhouse near Hoshiarpur owned by Harkirat Ahluwalia and his wife Jasveen. The couple,both in their 30s,started only two years ago and now has six air-conditioned tents on their farmland. The response has been good,with tourists from within the country and abroad visiting them regularly.

The farmhouse-owners know that there is a whole new market waiting to be tapped — city dwellers who want to get away from the dust and grime for a rejuvenating weekend. But why shouldn’t they head to the hills instead? Abjinder Singh Grewal,the owner of Gary Farm near Patiala,smiles as he asks: “Have you ever seen a ‘toodi da kupp’? Visitors to my farm insist on getting a picture clicked with it. It’s a straw shelter for wheat husk,tied at the top with a rope. They want pictures clicked at the tubewell,fishing at the pond,standing in the paddy fields in ankle-deep water,with cows and buffalos being milked. Where will they get such an experience in the cities?” At Gary Farm,an hour-and-a-half drive from Chandigarh,the charges are Rs 1,500 a night per person,all meals included.

On the other side of the state is the Jyani Natural Farm,on the Fazilka-Delhi Road (NH-10),about six hours drive from Delhi. The sprawling farm covers 130 acres — all of it strictly organic farming. Depending on the season,the farm grows sugarcane,rice,cotton,maize,pulses,wheat,mustard,gram,grapes,guava. Owner Vinod Jyani,in his mid-40s,says he has had both domestic and foreign guests on a regular basis. “Their feedback prompted me to go commercial,” he says. The activities here are charming indeed. You can pluck roses,mint or kinnow,depending on the season,pluck vegetables from the fields,get involved in the making of sherbat,take the oxen for ploughing fields,or even take the cows grazing. The charges here are Rs 500 a night for dormitory accommodation and Rs 5,000 a night for the luxury room. Jyani offers day tourism,with entry charges of Rs 50 per person.

Then there is the island farmhouse — almost. This is Micky’s Fish Farm near Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district. The house is surrounded by water on its three sides. Every room has a view of the water body. “Visitors can enjoy long,quiet hours of fishing,go for hiking,bicycling,guided treks or visit the ancestral haveli near the farm in a bullock cart,” says owner G S Virk,65. The farmhouse has two rooms for guests. Charges are Rs 1,500-2,000 a night for twin-stay,meals included.

And on the Dhillon farm near Hoshiarpur,adventure is the keyword. The farm is at the foothills,and what you get here is the rich forest experience.

Owner Guriqbal Dhillon,52,has four-by-four vehicles to go to the hills. One could go hiking or trekking with a farmhand. There is also a swimming pool. Charges are Rs 1,500 for a day trip. A night stay costs Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500.

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