Have Fun The Organic Way At This Eco-Farmhouse

Merely two hours away from the bustle of Mumbai is the perfect weekend getaway. Nestled amongst the mountain ranges of the western ghat, ‘Hideout Farm,’ is an organic farmhouse run by Hemant and Sangeeta Chhabra for over a decade now.

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Hemant and Sangeeta Chhabra

Complete with tribal style villas that are fueled by solar energy, sheltered by thatched roofs and adorned with rustic woven furniture, Hideout glamorizes simple organic living in every way.

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Individual rooms at Hideout
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Main Lounge Area

Hideout is located very close to Jawhar, a village that houses one of the few remaining tribal settlements in Maharashtra. The Chhabras have created a setup of eco-tourism wherein visitors get a chance of interacting with the locals and also live life their way during their stay in Hideout.

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What I personally loved about the place was that you are completely cut off from the outside world. You can trek around the hilly countryside, or chase hens and butterflies; pet cows or collect wild berries and flowers if you wish. You can choose to take a dip in a hidden lake or stargaze laying beside a bonfire. The possibilities are endless!

What surprised me was that even though I didn’t have access to the internet or television I still had so much to do at Hideout.

Pets all around
Visit to the organic pineapple farm farm
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Picking wild berries from the orchard
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But the highlight of my visit to the farmhouse was the food! Pure, delicious, organic food. A luxury that none of us have in the city. I for one am a hardcore meat eater and when I heard that Hideout serves only vegan food, I was taken aback.DSC_0191

But my disappointment only lasted till I had my first meal there. From piping hot aloo paranthas, to pulav and moroccan salad to chocolate and jaggery laddoos, I didn’t miss meat at all. In fact, the meals made me feel lighter and more active during the course of the day while I was there. The Chabbras also indulged us by us by sharing the recipes for their infamous pickled veggies.

Preparation of organic food

Apart from all of this, I could also avail of the special Neuro-Massage Therapy by Hideout’s in house masseuse. The massage left me feeling energized and centered.

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At hideout, we were encouraged to practice meditation and be mindful of our environment by the hosts. And trust me when I say this, in a place where you can only hear birds chirping and trees swaying to the breeze, even sitting idle feels like meditation!

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I also had the chance to visit a local artist who made paper mache sculptures out of organic materials and witnessed the entire procedure that goes behind its making.

What’s more? The artist was kind enough to sell me a few pieces for a huge discount!

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Oh, and if you are a fan of organic products, the Chabbras have a stock of wild organic honey, lentils and jaggery that you can purchase from them.

The goodbyes were the hardest bit of my trip, because I really didn’t want to part with such a beautiful slice of heaven. Nonetheless, I was happy that I was returning home re-energized, mentally and physically with priceless memories and warm hugs from the Chhabras!

I’d definitely suggest everyone to visit this gem of a place at least once or more and be a part of the Hideout Experience! For more information you can check out http://hideout.co.in/

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Ahmedabad Diaries: What Happens In Ahmedabad Will Make You Fall In Love With It!

The reactions when I told people I’m travelling to Ahmedabad for the weekend was, “What! Why? There’s nothing there to see! You will be bored. Oh, you will regret your decision!”

But I had made up my mind and I wanted to visit this Gujju city once and for all. As soon as I typed “Things to do on in Ahmedabad”, google gave me a fairly long list of places I could visit, to my relief!

Armed with this list of Things to Do in Ahmedabad, I set out to this seemingly somber city!

And guess what? I fell in love! This slow paced city has a charm of it’s own & I would definitely recommend everyone to pay it a visit.

And if you do decide to go to Ahmedabad or AMDAVAD as the locals call it, here are a few things you should definitely do!

Visit To The Bhadra Kaali Temple

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Ahmedabad is a known for it centuries old temples that are strewn all over the city. I chose the Bhadra, Kali Temple because it’s at the heart of the main city and is well connected to all the other major tourist attractions.

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Make sure you visit this place early in the morning around 8, when the pooja (worship) is conducted, I promise it would be the perfect headstart to your day.

Lal Darwaza (The Red Gate)

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The Lal Darwaza leads to the home of the then ruler, Ahmed Shah. The area around the gate has long since been converted into the local market.

IMG_1551Flower market near the gate

It’s always buzzing with people and it’s utterly chaotic, messy & insane and awesome at the same time! You can find souvenirs, food, clothes and all kinds of little take-aways for a steal here. It’s best to visit the place in the evening when the market is liveliest.

Bhadra Fort

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Fun fact, the Bhadra Fort was built by a Muslim ruler but has a temple at it’s base dedicated to goddess Kaali! You will find many such instances in Ahmedabad where temples and mosques share the same ground, which is so fascinating.

IMG_1565Chambers at the top of Bhadra Fort

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This fort has now been turned into a Municipal court so most entrances to rooms are sealed, but you can still find many hidden stairways, rooms giving you glimpses into it’s grand past.

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Sidi Sayed Mosque

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The locals recommended us to visit this mosque, which was at a walking distance from Bhadra Fort. Known for it’s beautifully carved grills at the back of the mosque it was definitely worth the visit.

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The maulana (religious leader and caretaker of the mosque) was kind enough to tell us about the history of the mosque and the architecture. Oh and we got a scolded for entering the gates with our shoes on, so be careful to take them off before you enter the premises!

 Jama Masjid (Jama Mosque, also called Juma by the localites)

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Believe it or not, I think this is one of the most beautiful structures I’ve ever seen in my life. From the moment you step into the huge courtyard surrounding the mosque there’s an air of breathtaking beauty within every square inch.

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Also built in the 1400’s it was apparently the largest mosque in the Indian Subcontinent at that time.

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You will see people meditating and reveling in spiritual studies around you and inspite of Ahmedabad’s merciless heat you will suddenly feel at peace.

Gandhi Ashram

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Sabarmati Ashram or, Gandhi Ashram as it’s commonly known, is the home of Gandhiji. The entire home along with the area surrounding his home has been turned into an exhibition now. I know some of you might think, EXHIBITION, Really? That’s what I thought too, but once we were there, we didn’t regret our decision one bit! It’s located on the banks of the Sabarmati river, that has now turned into a tourist spot in itself (It’s called the River Front now)

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It’s the perfect place to chill on a insanely hot afternoon.

IMG_1732Getting our yummy chana jor garam made!

Once you’ve had a tour of the entire exhibition centre, you can grab a snack (we had peanuts & chana jor garam* a local dish) and sat dazed under the shade of trees right along the River Front. So blissful!

Law Garden

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Okay so the garden in itself is pretty amazing but the lanes next to the garden is the real deal. That’s where you will find some pretty awesome stuff at throwaway prices!

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And then once the shopping has tired you out, you can find yourself a nice spot inside law garden and take a short power nap!

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Like so many others do there! (I know sounds kinda weird, but when you’ve been touristing around town and need a break, you will need this! )

Kankaria Lake (pronounced KaaKaRia)

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If you visit Ahmedabad, Kankaria lake is a must visit. Everywhere we went, the first place everyone suggested was Kaakaria! And oh boy, does this place stand up to it’s expectations!

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So it’s this huge ass lake that also doubles up as an amusement park, complete with rides, a choo-choo train running through the park and food stalls every where (literally everywhere!)

IMG_1802Bird Watching At Kankaria

Try and visit this place in the evening during sunsets, coz that’s when the fun begins! Since the park is full of trees, it’s a home to a specific variety of sparrows.  Towards sunset these birds, literally thousands of them come together, returning to their nests, putting on a absolutely breathtaking sight!

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Apart from that there are water lazer  shows regularly organized which is a pretty awesome sight too! So in short, there’s a lot to do at Kankaria.

Food In Ahmedabad

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There is food everywhere! I am not even exaggerating. While it is a vegetarian’s paradise, non-vegetarians need not worry, Amdavad has something for all. While I was there I tried and ate local food, to get a hold of the cuisine there.

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A lot of chaat, dhokla, pani puri, faafda jalebi, chole kulche can be found across the city.

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If you’re looking for some good non-vegetarian food head straight to Lal Darwaza.

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In the evening you can enjoy some sizzling hot kebabs, keema, sea food & more!

IMG_1816 A Local Chicken Pastry
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What was surprising was that Ahmedbad isn’t that big on deserts and sweets! We didn’t find much of it on the streets so we had to make do with the conventional generic  jalebis & ice-creams.

Shopping at Ahmedabad

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Take my word when I say this, shopping is dirt cheap here. I got back a few souvenirs, clothes, handmade bed covers & a lot more for around 2 K.

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The most famous spots for shopping are Law garden for traditional clothes, Manek Chowk for food, Lal Darwaza for antiques and souvenirs. If you are a fan of organic and khadi products you can shop from the shops around Gandhi Ashram, To go that eco-friendly way.

Travelling in Ahmedabad

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Both Ola and the local rickshaws  are super cheap and affordable. At no point did we have to pay more than 150 bucks to either of them (they have an instate app for rickshaws called Jugnu. Very handly to book rickshaw rides). And the bus services are also not too bad, so you can take your pick.

Stay In Ahmedabad

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We were looking for a home-stay while booking but couldn’t get through because the ones under our budget were already reserved. So we booked a room through the OYO app and stayed at a motel. It was fairly comfortable and also close to the city, no complains, nothing great.

Just a few other things

Amdavadis Are Super Duper Sweet People

You will never feel alone in Ahmedabad. All it takes is a Hi or a Hello to get people talking, and you will feel right at home. If you’re lost or need any kind of help just ask around. 3 days in that city, and I’ve definitely made more friends than I have in Mumbai! ?(No Kidding!)

There’s Art Everywhere

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Literally every street you look, you will find beautiful murals and artwork etched aimlessly.

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Such pretty sights! Definitely makes for those insta-worthy clicks!

There will be a lot of cows And Other Animals

I don’t know why, but you will find cows randomly strolling the roads. No need to freak out, in a day you will just get used to the sight of them.

You will spot a lot of clock towers & Darwazas

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Again, not like Amdavadis are too time bound, infact they follow a pace of their own. But you will tons of watch towers across the city. Ans as for the Darwazas, since Ahmedabad was home to a lot of rulers it has many guard doors or “darwazas”. Do stop when you spot one, they all have a unique story to them.

ALL IN ALL

If I could, I would just go on and on about how awesome this city is. Just like every other city in India, it is crazy in it’s own way and beautiful at the same time.

And if you are looking for a getaway and explore a new city, Ahmedabad is definitely recommended!

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