Published: 11th December 2019
Ever considered escaping to a farm or a forest? Check out these great places in Odisha
A recent by travel company Luxury Escapes India stated that the present generation wants to be more sustainable when they travel and have lower-carbon-footprint holidays
Did you know that India is the most vacation-deprived nation? As per a survey by Expedia, the online travel booking platform, in the year 2018, as many as 75 per cent of Indians felt that they needed a vacation. As 2020 is just around the corner, now would be a good time to opt for that quick getaway. Here are two unconventional options for you. How about spending a few days on a farm where you have the chance to not just munch on scrumptious dishes made with fresh vegetables, but also spend your time growing them? Or how about escaping somewhere mystical deep within a forest where no network (although telecom companies will try to convince you otherwise) can reach you? Farm and deep jungle tourism are indeed a little different from the conventional vacay but guess what, you don't even have to leave the coastal state for it! Read on to find out more about these great escapades.
The Shertoneco Resort
From a vegetable fruit patch in 2005 to a fishing farm in 2010 to today, a 17-room bungalow, indeed, The Shertoneco Resort, which is situated 150 km away from Bhubaneswar, has grown by leaps and bounds, while their objective has remained simple. "I wanted to do something innovative with tourism, hence, this resort was conceived," says Susant Pradhan, the founder of the resort. Born in Bhanjanagar, Odisha, and having formally studied Tourism, Susant even worked in a hotel in Goa for 18 months. "In Goa, I was earning for myself, but I wanted to come back to my state and help others earn as well," says the 43-year-old who back then was dismayed by the fact that people in Odisha had to migrate to other states for better jobs like he did. With the help of his cousin, who was a fisheries scientist, he set up fisheries and hatcheries. And there was no stopping him from there.
Take a dip | (Pic: Jitu Mishra)
The draw of the resort is not just its surroundings, but the fresh food that is served. Right down to the fresh tea made with tulsi leaves from their own backyard to the mustard and coconut oil used in their cooking, everything is sourced from their own farms. "If you want to eat baingan ka bharta, you can gather the ingredients from our farm and cook it yourself, as there is a small service kitchen in most rooms, or you can give it to our staff who will cook it for you," explains Susant. Apart from seasonal vegetables and fruits, they grow the usual assortment of carrot, capsicum, brinjal and more. The idea is to go back to the basics, so much so that there are no televisions in the rooms. There offer no room service and once the room is handed over, it is upon the individual or family to maintain it for the duration of their stay. "One can indulge in farming and gathering or fruits and vegetables for their meals," he explains.
Catching fish | (Pic: Jitu Mishra)
They rear as many as 12 varieties of fish in their fisheries, which are also sent to Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. They have local retailers who take the fish to nearby villages in order to sell it, thereby generating employment opportunities for the locals. We are told that in this way, more than 40 people have been employed directly and 200 have been employed indirectly or on a part-time basis. And the staff who work for them are personally trained by Susant.
Deers spotted | (Pic: Jitu Mishra)
Next up, they wish to increase the number of rooms so that they can serve as a corporate getaway and marriage functions can also be conducted on the premises. They have also identified more than five spots and want to turn their model into a chain.
Deep Forest Farmstay
As a wildlife photographer living in Canada, Anupam Dash thoroughly enjoyed the vistas of the Great White North. The solitude and the trekking culture — he found both of these quite impressive. So, when he decided to come back to Odisha in February 2016, he wanted to introduce the state to the same culture. "But in Odisha, most people want to just stay in rather than go out," says Anupam in a lighter vein. So, the 46-year-old started developing a property in the Panchadhara mountain range, Athmallik in the Angul district of Odisha, deep within the forest. On this four-acre land, you are free to cook, ride a bicycle, trek, barbeque and live in one of the three cottages and two tents. Did we mention the beautiful mango, litchi and papaya orchids they have? "We used to produce 25 kilos of mangoes, now our production has increased to 50 kilos. And the mangoes are so sweet, it's unbelievable," he shares.
The cottages | (Pic: Anupam Dash)
Everything is grown using natural farming techniques. "This attracts so many butterflies to our premises!" he exclaims and adds, "The air here is so pure that if you live here for 15 days, I believe that your life will be extended by a month at least," says a confident Anupam who lives on the same premises along with his parents. They have six employees and many others who work on the premises including gardeners and bee rearers. For someone who has been working in the IT sector since 1996, first Surat, then New Delhi, then Bengaluru and finally Canada, Anupam understands the importance of such surroundings even more. "We wanted to help adults and children come closer to nature through this property," he says.
The tents | (Pic: Anupam Dash)
Anupam has conducted photography workshops in the US, Puerto Rico and other places as well and for people who are interested, he conducts photo tours and workshops in Odisha as well. So if you opt for this experience, you can enjoy all that the resort has to offer and you can visit the four to five tourists spots that are situated at an easy distance. "All people have to do is come here and see how beautiful it is. Get away from your routine and just enjoy here, in the lap of Mother Nature. I just want everyone to enjoy this lifestyle" he implores.
The nearby spots around Deep Forest Farmstay:
- Satkosia Tiger Reserve is 50 km away
- River Mahanadi is four to five km away
- There are a few Odisha tourism sites around