Farmstays are emerging across India as agro-tourism increases in popularity – providing authentic ways to experience the people and its culture. Get away from the daily grind and breathe some clean air in India’s rural stays. Whether you’re seeking a serene escape from the chaos or an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and experience rural living firsthand, these farmstays promise an unforgettable journey where the bounty of the land meets the warmth of Indian hospitality.
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The vast subcontinent of India is an incredible place for getting back in touch with nature. Despite being the second-most populous country on the planet, India is so vast – and its topography so diverse – that you’ll feel like the only person in the world when gazing across a mountain vista, an unspoilt beach or a hazy plateau dotted with cows. Staying in a farmstay (a homestay on a farm) is the best way to get to grips with rural Indian life, while embedding into a local community, too. While some farmstays in India are all about getting your hands dirty by planting rice in paddies and harvesting herbs and spices, others are more luxurious – with yoga and detox packages, cookery classes and guided walks. Here is Culture Trip’s guide to the best farmstays in India.
In the misty hills of Nilgiri near the hilltop city of Ooty (a former British Raj summer resort in the Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu), this 35-room, lake-view farmstay boasts an on-site spa and a jacuzzi, so you can combine your deep dive into Tamil country life with a little high-end pampering. Learn about sustainable agriculture in the vegetable, fruit and herb gardens, or hitch a ride on one of the farm’s friendly horses. Pets are welcome too, so your fur baby can join you on a hike.
Dewalokam Farmstay Retreat
Dig into lovingly made, 100% organic Keralan cuisine on this working farm and Ayurvedic retreat centre, which prides itself on its restaurant’s traditional and healthy local dishes (kingfish and coconut stew, anyone?). For the wellness-oriented, the farm offers yoga and panchakarma detox packages, which include round-trip airport transfers for maximum ease. Regular guests can partake in cooking workshops, organic farming demonstrations and free local excursions to the many forests, temples and waterfalls that surround the nearby port city of Kochi.
In the monastery-dotted mountain village of Kewzing in scenic Sikkim, in northern India, this family-run farm cultivates local herbs and seasonal produce such as cardamom, maize and passion fruit. Time your trip according to the harvest schedule, which runs year-round, to watch the various fruits and veggies get picked – and taste the results. Then choose from a range of local excursions, including Sikkimese cooking workshops (there’s more to the region than momo dumplings, although you might eat a lot of them), birdwatching tours and even overnight camping trips to the forested valleys of Tendong Hill.
This relaxing farmstead is set in a 75-year-old plantation bungalow, surrounded by fragrant spice gardens near the hill station of Vagamon, in the southern state of Kerala. Enjoy fresh, regional cuisine made using home-grown produce and herbs; head out on a boat ride through the nearby backwaters; or amble around the lush streams and forests of tranquil Vagamon and the wide, glass-like Meenachil River – the setting for Arundhati Roy’s bestselling novel The God of Small Things.
Primed for the ultimate escape, these private waterfront villas – set on a working island farm – look out onto the tranquil waters of Vembanad Lake – the longest lake in India. Open-plan bungalows (designed by a local Kochi architect) afford lots of privacy, with savoury, coconut-infused local meals served in a communal setting within a thatched pavilion on stilts. The best part? A personalised pick-up in a traditional vallam (snake boat) used in Kerala’s boat races. There are discounts for long-stay travellers, which is lucky – as you won’t want to leave.
This Punjabi farm is working to conserve indigenous farming methods. Day trippers can enjoy a tasty local meal, a swim in the on-site pool and a try at local pottery, while overnight guests are offered comfortable nights in sumptuous safari tents, comfy cottages and traditional, mud-walled huts. Near historic Rupnagar, right in India’s northern tip, the farm also sits on the path of a bird migration that lasts from October to April – so bring your binoculars.
Spice Village – CGH Earth
Modelled on a traditional Mannan village, this mostly solar-powered resort puts sustainability at the forefront. Its elegant cottages are thatched with elephant grass made by local community members; furnishings are recycled; and the restaurant menus and luggage tags are provided from a local paper-making centre. It’s all a stone’s throw from Periyar Tiger Reserve – a wildlife sanctuary home to elephants and elusive big cats, including leopards and tigers. Join indigenous tribal leaders on a forest walk through the reserve, make your own take-home paper product or get an instructor-led crash course in Keralan spices.
This forest homestay offers unique, A-shaped wooden cottages, each named after a constellation of stars and crafted using foraged local materials. The resort is mostly run by women, who organise earthen pottery workshops for both guests and local villagers. Other activities include guided walks through local grasslands and spice plantations, but the real draw here is the nature-filled, remote setting. Car access is limited, so don’t overpack.
The Goat Village Escape
More than 2,000m (6,500ft) above sea level, this Himalayan homestay is staffed by women and includes several cottages. It’s on the Dayara Bugyal trekking route in the Uttarkashi district of northern India – the route can be completed in a day, leaving plenty of time for enjoying the hotel’s community vibe. Work-stay volunteers can stay for free, while other guests are offered a “pay what you like” fee structure. Pets and children are welcome, but city slickers be warned: off-grid private huts are lit with candles and kerosene lamps.
Farm of Happiness Agro-Tourism Homestay
A couple in Mumbai ditched their stressful careers to become organic farmers and start this agro-tourism resort. It’s tucked into a lush plateau in the western coastal region known as the Konkan, and has all the hallmarks of a rural stay – clay beds and bullock-drawn carts (which you can hop into for a ride). Guests can join in on every stage of farming, from feeding cattle to ploughing and harvesting. Don a poncho for a special monsoon package, where you can splash in the mud as you transplant rice seedlings under the summer rain.
Florence Derrick contributed additional reporting to this article.
If you’re looking for a unique place to stay in India. Or, for a rarer find, check out the palaces in India you can actually stay in. For help with your itinerary, stop off at some of these unusual places to visit in India and avoid those tourist crowds; and don’t miss out on the top Indian roads trips perfect for an adventure. Before you go, tempt yourself with the traditional Indian dishes that you need to try.
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