Plush farmhouses in Punjab throw open their doors to visitors

Written by Swarleen Kaur | Chandigarh | Updated: Aug 31 2009, 05:32am hrs
Tourism in Punjab, for a long time, was limited to its religious places only. Now, rich property owners in rural backwaters of the state are boosting this economic activity in a completely new way--by opening their doors to tourists, literally. Twenty-three of them have join hands with Punjab Tourism to offer a whole new concept-selling happy holidays at their farms, courtesy the farm tourism. Farmhouse owners from different parts of the state are upbeat about this new commercial activity.

Vinod Jyani, the owner of Jyani Natural Farm on the Abohar-Fazilka Road, is working out the final modalities of going commercial. He owns 130 acres in the area, and is completely into organic farming. "I grow diverse crops like paddy, cotton, sugarcane, mustard, pulses and also have orchards. A holiday here offers something that neither a hill station nor a beach can give you--a peaceful, quiet time where you bond with nature and participate in farming activities of your liking." At Jyani's sprawling haveli, even watching the food being cooked on a chulha is a delight. Everything that you eat grows in the farm itself, and has a flavour that can hardly be matched. Jyani has a range of accommodations to offer. A stay in the dormitory will cost one Rs 500 daily. He is also readying high-end luxury rooms with charges of Rs 5,000 a day.

About a month ago, Punjab Tourism classified these farmhouses in diamond and gold categories. Jyani Natural Farm has been classified in the 'diamond' category.

A charming farmhouse in the 'gold category' is Gary Farm near Patiala. It has a diverse range of activities to offer. These include fishing at the village pond, trying your hand at pottery with village potters, learning weaving from village girls, trying your hand at phulkari, the traditional Punjabi embroidery, and more. Says owner Abjinder Singh Grewal, "I have tied up with village artisans, who will interact with tourists and teach them the rural crafts. This will encourage artists and also be of interest to city dwellers." The charges here are Rs 1,500 a night per person, all meals included.

Another farmhouse in the 'gold' category is Dhillon Farm in Hoshiarpur district. The USP of this farm is adventure. With his fleet of four-by-four vehicles, owner Guriqbal Dhillon offers visitors jungle safaris and even night safaris. "Our guests can also opt for trekking into the adjoining hills, or enjoy the cool environs sitting by the pool," he said. Dhillon charges of Rs 1,500 per head during daytime and Rs 2,500 for a stay in night, meals and adventure activities included.

One of the farmhouses in the 'diamond' category is Micky's Fish Farm in Ropar, near Chamkaur Sahib. Owner GS Virk has 35 acres here, with about 30 acres covered by a pond. The farmhouse is surrounded by water on three sides, and each of the rooms has a view of the water body. Virk's major source of income is fish farming.

"Visitors can choose from a range of activities like fishing, hiking, guided treks, bicycling, boating etc. Our farmhouse is almost completely run on solar energy," he points out. The charges here are between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 for a night, meals included.