A Farm Retreat Where You Pay What You Want
In a city like ours, your easiest recourse to communing with nature might be taking a stroll by the seaface, separated from the bay by a cement wall and several feet of concrete tetrapods. Or you could hop into your car, and zip along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway and drive the roughly two hours towards Manor, where a 9.5 acre retreat near Vikramgarh puts you amidst what was once one of the largest teak forests in India. It’s here that the Hide-Out retreat, an eco-friendly farm set up by former Mumbai residents Hemant and Sangeeta Chhabra, has been taking in fatigued city dwellers since 2007.
“Even if you can’t afford it, you can give us what you are able to pay or pay us later,” says Hemant Chhabra, who has just recently started what he calls “a gift economy” system. That all-encompassing spirit has made Hide-Out a favourite of many, who flock here to breathe in the scent from acres of mango and fruit trees, pluck fresh basil and lemon, and even throw together the day’s salad from the farm’s own crops. “We’ll have mangoes for the next two weeks, we also make a nice drink from red hibiscus, pineapples, and we have lovely Italian lemons, plus 23 species of bananas, and star fruit, which we pickle,” says Chhabra who believes everything made and ploughed on the land is to be shared with his guests.
The mud and brick houses—together they accommodate around 30 people—are built according to the specs of visionary architect Laurie Baker, some open walled enclosures, or for the more adventurous, canopied beds, which can be placed outdoors under the stars. There are waterfalls nearby for splashing around, and the prospect of having your walks along the property soundtracked only by bird calls. As for every city dweller’s usual make-or-break amenity: the bathrooms Chhabra says are where he has pumped in the most money, making them suitably modern for even the fussiest urban residents.
To learn more about Hide-Out, visit Hideout.co.in. Rates range from Rs2,000 per night per person (all inclusive) during weekdays to Rs3,500 per person (all inclusive) for the weekends.Tags: Hemant Chhabra, Hide-Out, Sangeeta Chhabra, Travel, Vikramgarh