Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy and agritourism is one of the latest concepts to revolutionize the India travel industry. Buoyed by the growing popularity of homestays in India, farmstays (essentially a homestay on a farm) are blossoming across the country. They provide an authentic and interactive experience of rural life, in the delightfully fresh country air. These farmstays are among the best in India and range from simple to sublime.
Dewalokam is the organic ancestral farm of a welcoming Syrian Christian family. The name means "paradise" and the property certainly is that! This faultless farmstay is conveniently located only 90 minutes drive from Kochi airport, in the spice belt of Kerala, bounded by a placid river and nature reserve. Fruit, vegetables, spices, milk, and honey are all produced there. An extensive range of activities is available for guests, including spice walks, village walks, bamboo rafting, temple visits, cow milking, and swimming. Or, simply chill in a hammock! Yoga, Ayurveda, and cooking holidays are also offered. The main guesthouse has eight spacious air-conditioned rooms overlooking the river and forest. There's also a private traditional house in the forest that has three bedrooms.
- Rates: 10,000 rupees per night for a double. All meals and most activities are included. Visit their website for more information.
Another fabulous Kerala farmstay run by a Syrian Christian family, Vanilla County consists of a 70 year-old heritage bungalow on a 150 acre organic rubber and spice plantation. It's located two and a half hours drive from Kochi airport, near Vagamon in the lush Western Ghat mountain range. Guests can swim in natural rock pools, go on plantation walks, go trekking, birding, visit villages and a local meditation ashram, and cruise the Kerala backwaters. Up to four families can be accommodated in the main bungalow. The property is child-friendly and rooms are interconnected.
- Rates: Expect to pay 11,450 rupees per night for a double, with all meals and activities included. Without meals, the room rate is 7,250 rupees per night for a double. Visit their website for more information.
Maachli is a divine farmstay, situated in Parule village on the far south Konkan Coast of Maharashtra. The closest beaches are Bhogwe and Tarkarli. The name "Maachli" means "elevated huts" in the local Malvani language. There are four architecturally designed hut-style accommodations on the property, built deep within nature among the Samant family's coconut, betel nut, banana and spice plantation. Everything revolves around nature, and there is a sweet water stream flowing through the property. Responsible tourism is also a strong focus. Activities include village walks, cooking lessons, farming experiences, trekking.
- Rates: 4,500 rupees per night for a double. Breakfast (200 rupees per person) and meals (500 rupees per person) are additional.
Had enough of beaches in Goa? How about heading inland to stay in the jungle instead? Dudhsagar Plantation is set on 50 lush acres and grows everything from pineapples to cashews. It also has its own cashew feni distillery, with production taking place from March to May each year (you can see it and of course try the feni). When the hosts purchased the land in 1985, there was no electricity or running water. They bathed from a well. Gradually, they built the plantation up to what it is today, and finally opened it as a farmstay with five jungle cottages for guests. The farmstay is located on the way to Goa’s famous Dudhsagar waterfall. However, it gets super crowded with hundred of tourist jeeps going there every day. Instead, you can trek to a little-known waterfall in the jungle. The farmstay’s stunning swimming pool is the perfect place to laze around if you don’t feel like doing anything. Otherwise, take a walk through the plantation and swim in a nearby sparkling river. Go in the monsoon season for a natural fish foot spa in the river!
- Rates: From around 3,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast.
You may have heard of many of the popular places to visit tea plantations in India. However, this one in Nagaland, in India's Northeast region, is truly offbeat and remarkable! The host is the great granddaughter of a tattooed headhunter, and she's actively involved in researching and documenting the various tattoo patterns of her tribe. The boutique farmhouse is located in the middle of a remote, privately-owned 250-hectare tea estate. However, tea isn't all that's grown there. The farm also has an orange tree orchard and organic vegetable garden. Guests can pick and eat during harvesting season (mid-November to December). Other activities include milking cows and goats, working with locals in their paddy fields, going on nature hikes, learning how to traditionally smoke meat, and visiting local Konyak tribal villages. Do try the home-brewed rice beer too! The atmospheric stone-walled farmhouse is decorated with tribal paintings and has two guest rooms overlooking a valley.
- Rates: About 3,000 rupees per night for a double, including meals and a tour of the tea estate.
One of the best ways to experience rural India, Goat Village was set up by Green People as an initiative to augment local income and increase markets for organically-farmed products. Organic farming and agriculture are carried out on the property -- including the breeding of goats. The property offers purpose-built cottage accommodations with private bathrooms for guests. It's essentially run as a homestay, with villagers providing hospitality and cooking delicious regional cuisine. In addition to exploring the local way of life, guests can trek to nearby Nag Tibba mountain and go camping (all arrangements are taken care of). Reaching the village requires a trek of about an hour. The closest motorable village is Pantwari, a couple of hours from Mussoorie. Do note that electricity is minimal (just enough to charge phones). The Goat Village also has other properties in Uttarakhand.
- Rates: 7,000 rupees per night for a double, all inclusive. Dorm beds are available for 3,000 rupees per night, all inclusive.
Enchanted Forest Farm is an 18-acre forest farmstay that could aptly be called a hidden gem. It's located in Ranka-Parbing village, 45 minutes from Gangtok, but you'll have to walk for about 15 minutes to reach it (there will be someone to carry your luggage). The tranquil setting, deep inside the forest with a waterfall, and delightful hosts are totally worth it though! The farm is completely organic and the property is pretty much self-sufficient. There's a fish pond, cows and goats. If you're a music lover, you're also in luck. The host plays guitar and loves a good jam session. Guest accommodations consist of three rustic yet elegant standalone cottages. You'll leave feeling so rejuvenated. Enchanting indeed!
- Rates: From about 2,500-5,000 rupees per night for a double, with breakfast included.
Kids will love Destiny Farmstay! This expansive resort is secluded away about an hour from the popular hill station of Ooty. It has a stable full of horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs and geese. And, of course, farm dogs to watch over them. A huge range of produce is grown on the farm, including coffee, spices, fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. For the adults, there's a luxury spa, perfect for pampering and unwinding. Accommodations consist of 35 guest rooms. Zip-lining and day camping are additional experiences that are possible.
- Rates: Around 13,500 rupees upwards per night for a double, including breakfast and tax. Special packages are offered. It's on the pricier side for the facilities provided. Also, note that the approach road is not maintained and is in poor condition. The farmstay uses its own 4WD transport to ferry guests the last few miles.
Mansoor Khan is known as the man who quit Bollywood (he used to be a director) to make cheese. This inspiring 22-acre farmstay near Coonor is the result of him following his heart and reinventing himself. It's devoted to organic cheese-making and holistic, self-sustaining living. The farm has cows to provide the milk for its gourmet cheeses, and organic vegetables are grown as well. Guests can participate in a two-day gourmet artisan cheese-making course (cost 10,000 rupees per person plus tax). There are three guest cottages, named after types of cheeses, with a total of five rooms. Some walking up and down between the rooms and dining area is required, so do keep that in mind before booking.
- Rates: From 3,200-4,700 rupees per night for a double, plus tax. Breakfast is included. Additional meals are 400 rupees per person. Visit their website for more information.
This dreamy and inspiring eco-friendly farmstay in the northern part of Kerala is, as its name suggests, themed on oyster farming. The award-winning host was the first Indian to farm mussels on coir, and he educated local villagers (mostly women) about the use of this technology to uplift them and help improve their livelihoods. A group of these locals has also been trained to look after guests and act as guides. The property is perfect for those why want to spend some serene time by the Kerala backwaters. There are 10 traditional-style huts, all crafted from natural materials and named after various types of seafood. Some are floating and two are elevated on stilts. Facilities include swimming pool, kids playground, kayaks, and boat for exploring the surroundings.
- Rates: From 4,000 rupees per night for a double, including buffet meals (delicious Kerala cuisine) and activities.
Dwarka is a bright and modern farmstay on a 15-acre orchard, also in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district. It's located in Sawantwadi, approximately 30 minutes drive inland from unspoiled Vengurla beach. Mangoes, coconuts, cashews, and fruit are grown there. There's also a dairy on the property. Interesting activities are offered, such as a visit to a pottery village, bamboo workshop, and mat weaving. Various local sightseeing tours are arranged as well. The traditional Malvani cuisine served using farm-fresh ingredients is a highlight. There's also a swimming pool. The farmstay has nine double guest rooms, and a family room for a minimum of six people.
- Rates: From 2,800 rupees per night for a double. Packages with all meals included are offered. Visit their website for more information.
Citrus County is one of the biggest success stories where farmstays in Punjab are concerned. The hosts started it in 2006 as a way to generate much needed additional income for their farm. The property is located on the way to Amritsar, and has three suites inside the house and nine luxury tents for glamping in the garden. It has been really thoughtfully developed and includes a swimming pool, cafe, and bar. As its name suggests, citrus fruit is farmed there in a 70 acre orchard. Guests can go fruit picking, travel by tractor through the fields, explore local villages, visit a dairy farm, learn various farming techniques, and cook Punjabi food.
- Rates: 14,000 rupees per night for a double, plus tax. It includes all meals and activities.
Prakriti Farms is a non-profit organic farm, located around an hour from Chandigarh at the foothills of the Shivalik Range in Punjab. It's not far from the Ropar wetland and migrating birds can be seen flying over the property. The owners, alarmed by the surrounding disrespect for nature, are slowly recreating an ecological environment on the land inherited from their ancestors. Two types of accommodations are provided for guests -- cottages and tents. The safari tents have shared bathrooms, while the luxury Swiss tents have attached bathrooms. Activities include nature walks, trekking through the forest, and bird watching.
- Rates: Expect to pay about 5,000 rupees per night for a double cottage, including breakfast. Swiss tents are priced around 4,000 rupees per night. Prakriti Farms also accepts volunteers who want to learn and contribute to sustainable eco-farming practices. Visit their website for more information.
Tantalizing Tathagata Farm offers an opportunity to get back to nature on a tea estate up in the hills, 45 minutes from Darjeeling. In addition to tea, the farm grows cardamom, ginger, vegetables, oranges and other crops. Possible activities include plantation tours, trekking, nature trails and guided walks, fishing, picnicking and birding. Cottages and luxury tents with bathrooms are nestled among the greenery for guests to stay in.
- Rates: Around 5,700 rupees per night for a double cottage, with breakfast and dinner. Tents are about 6,400 rupees per night. Tax is included.
The Country Retreat is a new boutique farm stay situated in the fields near Jawai, in Rajasthan's rural Pali district halfway between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The property comprises 130 acres of farmland and the host has vast agricultural knowledge. There are many possible activities including bird watching, animal herding, village and leopard safaris, cycling, photography, farm tours, farm activities, and complimentary Rajasthani cooking lessons. Guests are accommodated in four air-conditioned bedrooms, all attractively refurbished and decorated with regal touches.
- Rates: Expect to pay around 6,000 rupees per night upwards for a double, including breakfast. Visit their website for more information.
If you want to explore traditional Kerala village-style living, 1515 Mepra is the place! This 500 year-old farm is made up of a beautifully furnished heritage house, a fish farm, duck farm, gardens rich in Ayurvedic herbs, and rice, pepper, kokum, banana, and coconut plantations. The property is located in what's known as the "rice bowl region of Kerala". It's 45 minutes from Alleppey, an hour from Kumarakom, and a bit over 2 hours from Kochi airport. Activities include boating, fishing, village walks, temple and church visits, and Ayurvedic massages. There are four guest rooms, each connecting to the garden and accessed through the main courtyard.
- Rates: 3,000-5,500 rupees per night, including breakfast and tax, depending on the time of year.
Are you interested in seeing and experiencing permaculture farming in action? A few years ago, the hosts at Tieedi quit their corporate careers and used regenerative permaculture principals to revive a forest and create a sustainable way of living for themselves. They built an amazing minimalist earth dwelling share it with guests (and have since added a herb garden dwelling and backpacker hostel). They also offer a Cook and Dine Experience on a their farm, featuring traditional cooking methods and homegrown produce. The hosts take guests on a forest walk, introduce the concept of permaculture and Forganic farming (foraging and organic farming), and show their outstanding composting process that upcycles the waste generated by the local village. There's heaps to learn, thanks to the diverse team of people with different skills sets who work and volunteer at the property. Go there to reconnect with nature and nourish your soul.
- Rates: From about 5,000 rupees per night for a double in the earthy dwelling, 1,500 rupees per night in the herb garden dwelling, and 650 rupees per night in the hostel.
Guests certainly have a lot to be happy about at this idyllic 20 acre organic farmstay, tucked away in a remote agricultural village that's largely untouched by modernization. A passionate couple from Mumbai set it up to introduce people to the concept of natural farming and teach them about the food they eat. You'll be encouraged to participate in the farming process to get an understand of how crops such as paddy, mangoes, and jackfruit are grown. Other possible activities include bullock cart rides, trekking, bird-watching, star gazing and fishing. The farmhouse has three earthy yet modern guest rooms with ethnic features such as clay floors and old-style furniture.
- Rates: 5,000 rupees per night for a double including meals (authentic local cuisine), farm tour, and star gazing. A minimum two night stay is required.