Experience farm stay in Punjab, with kinnows thrown in

December 9th, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Hoshiarpur (Punjab), Dec 9 (IANS) The sight of hundreds of orange-coloured kinnows hanging on small trees is tempting enough for anyone to get up - close and personal. And that is exactly what a young farmer and his wife in Punjab are offering to tourists from cities as part of experiencing village life.Kinnow grower Harkirat Ahluwalia and his wife Jasveen in Hoshiarpur district are exploring this novel tourism avenue in a state that mostly gets religious pilgrims.

Their Citrus County is a sprawling farm stay getaway in the middle of 75 acres of kinnow and poplar plantations that can give a refreshing break from city life, just 130 km from Chandigarh.

“We not only offer farm stay but also hands-on experience of village life coupled with some adventure. These are simple things in life that people in villages across Punjab do every day but for residents of cities, this is something new,” Harkirat told IANS at his Citrus County farm located in Chhauni Kalan village, five kilometres from Hoshiarpur on the highway to Chandigarh.

“Our USP is that here people are living in the middle of a sprawling kinnow farm. They can even go and pluck fresh kinnows from the trees,” Harkirat added as he made arrangements for a group of Australian guests coming here for the New Year’s holiday.

The kinnow fruit - developed in 1935 in the University of California at Riverside by cross-pollinating kings and willow-leaf varieties of oranges - has its peak season between December and March.

Punjab primarily gets religious tourists with the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib - popularly known as the Golden Temple - in Amritsar accounting for most of them. Another attraction is the Attari-Wagah border between India and Pakistan where a ‘Retreat’ ceremony takes place every day at sunset to close the border gates.

The novel concept of farm stays might therefore become a big hit among tourists in the near future.

A senior state tourism official said: “We are expecting more tourists to come and enjoy farm stays. Through this, they can take a little bit of real Punjab with them.”

Citrus County not only offers spacious regular rooms in the farmhouse but also six luxury tents. The farmhouse and the tented accommodation is itself spread in two acres. Guests often come in groups of 20-25.

Traditional Punjabi food with a barbeque, evening bonfires, a golf putting area, a gazebo cafe and a swimming pool for summer months are being offered along with the experience of rural surroundings.

Also on offer is a short trip to the village ‘chaupal’ or common area, seeing daily village activities, ride on a tractor, walk through the kinnow farm and an adventurous jeep safari through farm and forest land in which some wildlife can be spotted. The safari also includes a drive through the dry-bed of a ‘choe’ or seasonal rivulets that Hoshiarpur district is famous for.

“People get a lot of peace of mind after coming here. Staying in the luxury tents is an added advantage. This is the closest you can get to nature and have adventure and fun. We’ve had guests from India and abroad and everyone has liked the concept,” Harkirat’s wife Jasveen says as she marshals the farm’s workforce to their duties.

Despite offering a luxurious stay at the farm, many of the things have deliberately been kept in their rural format. The attendants at the farm too are simple village girls and boys.

Citrus County, which has already got 200 guests since it began in October, has also tied up with Revaa Yoga to give yoga sessions to guests.

“Visitors coming to the farm virtually do yoga in nature’s lap,” yoga guru Anil Juneja said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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