Get back to your roots, with village tours that see you catching fish and sleeping in mud huts
There’s life beyond morning rush hours, iPads and late nights out; we just never think to explore it. So, on your next break, how about going rustic with a village tour? Try a quick trip to Valwanda in Maharashtra, home to the Warli tribe, where you can attend painting workshops. Or a quick detour to Puliangudi in Tirunelveli district to help out with lemon cultivation. Other alternate getaways:
Rumbak, Jammu and Kashmir
At an altitude of 4,050m, this tiny little hamlet has only nine households. But that is also part of its charm—the villagers take turns to play host. Nestled in a valley in the Hemis National Park, Rumbak is a great place to spot snow leopards, wolves and blue sheep—especially from December to February. You could trek to Stok Pass (4,900m), try your hand in the fields or even tend the livestock—when not savouring tasty Ladaki-style organic food, including soups, dimsums and cha ngarmo or Ladaki tea.
Getting there: The closest motorable road is till Zingchen, just outside Hemis. From there, the village is an easy four to five hour trek. Cost of accommodation is revised every year. Details: 01982257953
Dehna is, by all accounts, home to one of the most hospitable village communities in the country. Located 130km from Mumbai, you can stay with a local family and occupy yourself with treks in the woods. To get your daily dose of exercise, try pounding rice, chopping wood, winnowing or grinding spices. While May-July are kept aside for preparing the field and sowing, come October, you can witness firsthand the heady rush of harvesting. You could also trek to the nearby Ajobgad mountain.
Getting there: Take the highway to Shahapur. Once outside the city, take a right towards Dolkhumb. Ask for the State Transport stop, where a left turn leads you to the village. Grassroutes Journeys organises tours. `2,372 per person (weekend) and `1,995 per person (weekday). Details: 08879477437
Paushi vilage, West Bengal
This remote village sprawls beside the Bagda River, in East Midnapur district (130km from Kolkata). Stay in octagonal bamboo huts and sup on authentic Bengali food. While there, visit the sahajiya, the cultural centre, and try your hand at painting or sculpting. Or visit the Tala Bhangar Poth, the village’s equivalent of a day-care centre, where kids can play traditional folk games like guti khela or ekka dokka. You can also go on a river cruise (ask the locals) or explore the nearby Bahiri temple, dating back to the Middle Ages.
Getting there: Pick up and drop services are available from the Contai railway station (23kms away) and the Kalinagar bus stop (6kms one way). At `3,000 for a cottage. Free for children below 10. Details: 9831095234
Jaisalmer Farm, Rajasthan
Located 28 km from Jaisalmer, in the Thar desert, this farm gives you a great chance to live the desert life. Situated on a hill overlooking a lake, you get to stay in traditional mud huts. Though there is no electricity there, a solar panel will help you charge small appliances. While there, go for camel rides and spend time with the village weaver and potter. You can also join the local tribes in their evening chants or get them to teach you to play their traditional musical instruments such as the kamaicha.
Getting there: If you are driving down from Jodhpur, take the NH 15 and get there in four hours. To book, fill a form on India Offroads’ homepage. At`2,300 per person. Details: indiaoffroads.com
Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu
“Visit if you want to have an authentic Chettinad experience,” says Revathi Ramesh, of UGO Hospitality, which organises tours to the village in the Sivaganga district. Peppered with heritage houses, a bullock cart ride is a great way to see it all. While there, also check out the Chettinad palace, the Island Bungalow and the Thirumayan Fort. Athangudi, the village that manufactures the handmade terracotta tiles, is close by.
Getting there:Take the Grand Southern Trunk Road through Perambalur and Pudukottai. Stay at the Visalam Hotel, a restored Chettiyar house in the art-deco style. At `6,500 per night. Details: 045 65273354 /ugohospitality.com