Summer Getaways: Nature Trails with a Twist

From hand-picking mangoes in Maharashtra to plucking tea in the valleys of Assam, here’s your list of quirky summer haunts.  
Summer wonders: Nature trails with a twist
Select farm stays in India offer fruit picking activities, which make for a fun summer holiday. Photo by: Puneet Vikram Singh, Nature and Concept Photographer/Moment Open/Getty Images

Pick your fruit and eat it too

Mango and grape picking, Maharashtra
For many, summer afternoons spent feasting on grapes and mangoes summon memories of childhood. And if some countryside orchard hopping, complete with mango and grape picking trails sounds like a good way to spend the summer, Maharshtra has you covered.  The Maharashtra belt, with its diverse landscapes, is home to a delicious variety of fruits. Around Ratnagiri, one can unwind at several farm stays that encourage guests to go mango picking in private orchards. Nashik, which has become synonymous with vineyards, offers guided tours, walking you through the fine art of winemaking at various wine parks. To indulge in some oddly satisfying grape stomping, plan your trip in the warmer months of March and April—the seasonal activity commences in January and spills into summer.

Stay here

Spread across 40 acres , Ganesh Agro Tourism in Nate village (roughly  55 km from Ratnagiri) allows visitors to pluck Alphonsos from over 2,000 trees. A day of mango-picking costs Rs700 per head, inclusive of a combination of two meals (breakfast and snacks or breakfast and lunch). You can also choose to put up for the night at the farm stay for Rs1,500 per head, inclusive of a fruit picking package,  three meals and tax. The absence of TV and Wi-Fi network works to shift your focus, connecting you with nature (www.maharashtratourism.gov.in;94224 33676; ganesh.ranade@gmail.com).

O’Nest Home Stay in Devrukh (roughly 40 kms from Ratnagiri) offers mango picking as a complimentary group-based activity at the stay (www.onesthomestay.com; 83789 87789; onesthomestay@gmail.com; Doubles from Rs1800).

Red Grapes, a business model specialising in Indian wine tourism, prompts guests to visit Vinchur wine park in Nashik. Grape to Glass, a session which includes visits to property wineries, vineyards, wine tasting and screening of wine-related documentaries, is priced at Rs200. Camping stays on the property for a group of six starts at Rs450 per head and is inclusive of breakfast. Doubles start at Rs7,000, while luxury villas start at Rs11,000 excluding tax. Avail passes at a discounted price from Red Grapes to visit a selected few wineries in Nashik (www.redgrapesindia.com; 89990 11442; redgrapes.contact@gmail.com).

 

Mulberry and Jamun picking, Punjab

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Besides activities like jamun and mulberry-picking, enjoy a typical farm stay in Punjab’s Green Acres Haveli and Retreat. Photo by: Arthit Thi-Ngakhruea/EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

As far as the eyes can search, lush greenery swathes across fields in Punjab’s Amritsar. With over two dozen variety of homegrown fruits, Mulberries and Jamuns are found in abundance in the summer. Stroll through the orchard and take home as many fruits as the basket can hold.

Stay here

Fruit orchards on three sides and a vegetable garden on the other surround Green Acres Haveli and Retreat, which lies in close proximity to the Amritsar International Airport. Guests can also take tractor rides, milk cows, pick eggs and go for a swim at the 40-foot long pool at the property. Doubles start from Rs3,000, serves breakfast and is not inclusive of tax. On few occasions, the property remains shut for approximately two months in late summer. Make sure you confirm with the staff before going ahead with the bookings. (www.greenacreshaveli.com; 97819 83828; info@greenacreshaveli.com).

 

Tea party of another kind

Tea plucking, Assam

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Wild Mahseer has many cosy corners, like First Flush, the dining space that was once a tractor shed. After a wholesome breakfast, go on a long stroll through the tea estate. Photos by: Anu Jacob

A trip to Assam is incomplete without visiting its renowned tea estates. It is here that you can wake up to mountain air and freshly brewed coffee that is locally cultivated. Connoisseurs may engage in tea tasting sessions, take a tour of tea gardens and visit tea factories. While at it, river rafting and dolphin-spotting in the Brahmaputra adds to the thrill.

Stay here

Wild Mahseer’s colonial architecture adds to its charm, the rich indoor view giving way to that of a sprawling tea estate. Situated in Balipara on the outskirts of Tezpur, the 14 rooms and five bungalows at the property are named after different varieties of tea. Double occupancy starts from Rs11,000 and are inclusive of three meals and a tea trail. The 22-acre property also houses a botanical garden, which the guests can access. Find out more here. (www.wildmahseer.com; 98336 31377; reservations@wildmasheer.com).

 

Tea tasting, Tamil Nadu

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Tenerife Hill, Tranquiltea’s plantation farm stay in Tamil Nadu, offers a gorgeous view of the Nilgiri. Photo by: Sandeep Subramani

Although Munnar (Kerala) is a popular site for tea plantations in the south, Coonoor, in Tamil Nadu, doesn’t fall far behind. A local tea experience centre at the Tranquilitea plantation, for instance, takes tea very seriously. Tea tasting at the property, which includes a cosy stay called Tenerife Hill, goes beyond the usual smell, swirl and sip method, offering a crash course on gourmet teas. Their gourmet tea tasting experiences are headed by owner Sandeep Subramani. It takes place in two slots, at 10.30 a.m. and 4.15 p.m., lasting an hour or more. While the standard package costs Rs600 per head, a private tour is priced at Rs900. For group tours, it is advisable to make reservations in advance.

Stay here

If guests wish to stay back, they are provided accommodation at the estate-owned property. The two-room bungalow, situated 22 km from Ooty, overlooks the Nilgiris and is laid out in teak and rosewood furnishings. To ensure exclusivity of the guests, the property is rented out to only one family at a time. Doubles are priced at Rs7,500, exclusive of tax and inclusive of breakfast and tea plantation tour (www.tranquilitea.in; 94438 41572)

 

Coffee cruise

Plantation stay, Karnataka

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Known for its coffee plantations, Coorg’s welcoming weather offers respite from the scorching heat. Photo by: © Ingetje Tadros/Photodisc Collection/Getty Images

With coconut trees swaying to cool summer’s breeze and coffee plantations dotting the hills, Coorg is an ideal holiday destination. Ambling through lush coffee plantations is a wholesome experience, especially when armed with professional guidance.

Stay

Tata Coffee Plantation Trails in Coorg offers a Bean-to-Cup tour walking the guests through the coffee making process. Safari rides are arranged through the coffee estate accompanied by a guide. Learn about the flora and fauna in the region and the fine quality of Robusta and Arabica beans cultivated on site. Bird watching and nature walks, complimentary with the package, condense the charm. The on-site golf course can be accessed at an additional charge. Doubles start from Rs6,500, not inclusive of tax (www.plantationtrails.net); 94816 10695; reach.plantationtrails@tatacoffee.com).

  • Pooja Naik is a recent media graduate. She likes to take long leisurely walks with both hands in her pocket; channeling her inner Gil Pender at Marine Drive since Paris is a continent away.

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