Akshayakalpa – Farm Visit Program

Sounds of laughter and excited chatter fill the clean, unpolluted air. Little children run around unhampered by the usual constraints of the city, while their parents merely watch indulgently, knowing that their little ones are in safe territory.

This is a typical scene during the Farm visit program at the Akshayakalpa organic dairy and farm. This is an opportunity that Akshayakalpa provides, not just for its customers but also for anyone who would like to learn more about their products and processes.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of witnessing a group of visitors savoring every aspect of the immersive and educational activities at the farm and needless to say, I was equally delighted to experience the same along with everyone else. Of course I was a bit hampered with the task of documenting the event but then, that is an occupational constraint so to speak, which I have to deal with 😏

Akshayakalpa Organic, started out as a rural enterprise which aimed at ‘Rejuvenating Indian Agriculture’, by making farmers self reliant by setting up organic dairies in village farms and then helping them through the entire process from milking to marketing. Their initial activities were documented by me in this 4 year old post of mine – Akshayakalpa Part-1 and those who wish to know more about them, would do well to read this before proceeding here.

I must add though, that they have progressed significantly since then, with a greater number of new products, as well as with upgraded production facilities and systems and my new blog post on their enhanced processes and products will be coming up soon.

Until then, one can always participate in this guided tour and obtain a first hand experience (which some might find more interesting than reading pages of pages of the stories that I churn out 😎)

Well for now, you have no choice but to obediently read, if you want to know what delights lie in store.

So hop on, as I transport you to the village of Kodihalli that lies on the border of the Hassan and Tumakuru districts of Karnataka in India.

A brief recap –

Since I know my readers well, I am sure that many of you will not click on this link Akshayakalpa Part 1  despite my not so subtly pushing it in your face a second time 🤨

So I will generously grant you a few words to make it easier for you to get an idea of about the set up at Akshayakalpa and its purpose and objectives.

Akshayakalpa is a certified organic enterprise which mainly focuses on various dairy products. Apart from this, they have also diversified into organic farming, honey production, coconut based products, wholegrain bread, batter and other such items which are grown and processed in the region.

The aim of this company is to give rise to a new breed of empowered farmers who are self sufficient and earn enough to keep them from abandoning their villages and moving to cities in search of livelihood.

The campus – 

The Akshayakalpa plant in Kodihalli, Hassan district, is a 24 acre space and its salient features are the reception area, main processing plant, employee canteen, administrative office, dormitory for trainees, RnD Heifer unit, biogas plant, the RnD organic vegetable garden, amphitheater, campsite for visitors, play area, effluent treatment plant and of course several fruit trees and fields growing fodder grass and other crops.

Farm Visit Program – 

Purpose –

The purpose of this tour is multifold. It provides the urban dweller with  immersive and interactive activities that showcase the working of an organic and self sustaining farm. Children and (certain clueless) adults are educated on how their food is grown and the humungous effort that is put in by the farmer to facilitate the journey of food from Soil to Soul.

It aims to inculcate a healthy respect for the process of producing food and not to take for granted what seems to magically appear on our plate.

The program also strives to indicate the difference between conventional and organic farming and thus exhibit how Akshayakalpa’s products are far safer and healthier with their ethical and chemical free processes, than other commercial mass production brands.

A typical itinerary –

Visitors have a choice of participating in an overnight stay which covers almost 2 full days OR a single day program from morning to evening.

Yet again, some of you might choose to take the easy way out and merely watch this video but for those who enjoy words, may also continue to read on 😀

https://youtu.be/VJNWahbGat0

Overnight stay –

Timings – the program begins at 11am and ends the next day around 4pm.

The program begins at 11am sharp. Since everyone comes on their own, it is expected that they will be punctual so that they do not hold up the tour or inconvenience the guides.

After completing the entry formalities at the gate, the guests are given their name tags which they are to wear at all times inside the premises.

They are greeted by the guide and begin the day at the at the rustic, circular hall called Kalpa Kuteera, with a welcome beverage which is usually a natural drink like buttermilk or a herbal kashayam (concoction).

 

They then embark on the tour with a 20 minute bullock cart ride which takes them around the farm on a 2 km circuit.

En route there is another round of refreshment in the form of freshly picked tender coconuts which are opened using their in house steel openers.

The ride is followed by a 30 minute session on beekeeping, where they are briefed on the various bees that Akshayakalpa breeds. Children and adults are permitted to handle the bee frames and this hands-on experience is truly thrilling.

Akshayakalpa has 2 varieties of bees, the Indian one called the Cerana Indica and the European one called Mellifera. This is a very exciting discussion especially for children since they can now personally witness what they learn at school.

After this there is a 45 minute presentation in the amphitheater, where the guide briefs the audience on Akshayakalpa’s philosophies, goals, processes and products and explains how they are different from other commercial, non organic brands. This is a highly educative session and is also interactive, with the guests being free to clarify whatever queries they have.

A simple and rustic lunch follows at Kalpa Kuteera, where the food is transported in trolleys from the main kitchen at the canteen. Visitors are urged NOT to waste food and serve only what they can consume. The purpose of this tour is also to indicate the labor intensive path that food takes from plant to plate and to ensure that no visitor will leave without understanding how precious every item on their plate is.

Lunch is the same as what is served to the employees and consists of Ragi mudde (ragi ball), some home grown vegetable dishes, unpolished rice, sambhar, rasam, curd, buttermilk, fruit etc. Rotis and a paneer side dish are also served to guests who might not be comfortable with purely South Indian rural fare.

All the ingredients used are either from their farm or from their farmer groups and hence they ensure the quality of all the produce that they serve.

Specific bins are placed for various types of waste and everyone is expected to strictly comply. Guests are also supposed to wash whatever utensils they use. All the wash basins on the property are foot pedal operated, ensuring a better level of hygiene.

Post lunch it’s back to business again and the program continues with a 20 min tour of the vegetable farm which is called the vegetable RnD. This is a 1 acre space growing around 30 varieties of organic vegetables using the Raised bed model. The visitors are given a talk on the various processes involved in growing organic vegetables without the use of chemicals.

From here it is onward to the Dairy RnD which is a model farm where the cows are housed. Apart from the Holstein Friesian cattle, they also have local breeds like Hallikar and Amruth Mahal which produce the A2 variant of milk.

The visitors get an up close and personal experience as they walk through the passage where the cows feed on silage and other fodder. They witness the free movement of the untethered animals that are happy and stress free.

One can pat the cows and even feed them and children make the most of this opportunity. Of course the ever hungry cows even go for items of clothing, so if you do not want your dupatta chewed up, then better make sure that you quickly make fodder available instead 😀

The next stop is at the adjacent Bio gas unit where the guide explains how cow dung is used to generate methane which is the major component of the bio gas that is used as fuel in cooking. Currently this unit produces the equivalent of 1 LPG cylinder per day.

After this, it is teatime and the visitors themselves are fuelled yet again at Kalpa Kuteera with Tea/Milk and in-house snacks like paneer and if you are lucky, the kitchen may be in RnD mode and you might score a delicious pizza or wholegrain eggless cake too.

 

Following this, they are off to witness and participate in yet another fascinating event, which is the milking of the cows at the milking parlor.

Akshayakalpa has a clean milk production system that is completely hands-free. It is very interesting to watch the cows line up in a disciplined manner and take their positions at the milking stand. Milking machines are used, which mimic the gentle suckling of a calf and the visitors including children are permitted to participate in attaching the machines to the cows, of course after following all the protocols like wearing gloves, caps and other hygiene measures. These cows are free from diseases like Brucellosis and hence those who want to taste the fresh milk are even permitted to directly drink it immediately after the milking. This is definitely an unusual experience and many guests choose to indulge in it.

After this, the rest of the evening is left free for guests to take a break or stroll around the premises. Children of course make the most of this time and delve into playing with soil and other such earthy elements which they probably are not permitted to touch in the city.

After resting a while and freshening up, it is now time for relaxation and fun in the form of a bonfire at 7.30pm, around which everyone gathers with song and dance for a while before dinner is served.

Photo from Akshayakalpa

Dinner is at 8.30pm and is the one meal that they serve at the main canteen. It similarly consists of a simple, rustic and organic fare as at lunch.

Photo from Akshayakalpa

Photo from Akshayakalpa

It is now time to retire for the day in the tented accommodation that is provided at the campsite. There are 20 tents divided between 2 campsites which are in close proximity of each other.

Each tent can house a family of four. These all-weather tents are water proof, insect proof and reptile proof. The amenities in the campsite include pillows, bed sheets, blankets and first–aid kits.

There are common washrooms at the site and they are separate for males and females. The washrooms have all the basic facilities like Western commode, washbasins, mirrors and geysers to provide hot water.

Those who might not want to stay in tents, do have the option of staying overnight in a hotel at Tiptur town and Akshayakalpa will book these rooms at a discounted rate for their guests.

Day 2 begins early at 6am with tea, milk and a light snack which is usually Akshayakalpa bread, butter and honey. This is followed by a farm walk and then breakfast at 9am.

Of course only the highly enthusiastic ones will be up at this hour 😀 so for those who prefer to sleep in, there is a similar walk arranged after breakfast.

This 45 minute farm walk is led by one of the staff who explains in detail about self sustaining organic farms where they grow whatever they need, right from various varieties of fodder grass to fruit trees and other plants. They also learn how the compost is produced in-house from waste, leaves and cow outputs.

One can also spot various species of birds within the farm. I was happy to trap a few of them on my lens.

Groups of peafowl congregate in the fields during early morning and evening hours. Of course, my peacock luck being what it is, I as usual could not get close enough to get good shots of them.

Breakfast is again served at Kalpa Kuteera and is usually upma or rice pulav or idli or dosa or some such item accompanied by chutney, sambhar etc, along with fruits, buttermilk, tea, milk etc.

The most exciting activity takes place after one has reinforced themselves with breakfast and is the Harvesting of farm produce. Guests give a list of what they would like to purchase and then guided by the garden staff, they harvest whatever they will be taking home. Everyone has a lot of fun during this process and it is amazing to see that there are people who are actually amazed to see where their vegetables come from 😎

You can also see more details about the vegetable garden in the next blog post.

One really feels the impact of the marvel that organic farming is, when one sees parents so comfortably allowing their children to eat the produce straight off the plant. Little kids handling fresh vegetables and being permitted to scoop out little green peas from their pods and pop them into their little mouths, is a sight that one can see only in a chemical free vegetable garden.

The loot is gathered in individual baskets which are handed over to the staff who labels them and then sorts, weighs, bills and packs them into cardboard boxes, to be collected at departure.

One can also buy seeds from their seed collection, saplings, dairy items and other available Akshayakalpa products.

After this strenuous activity it is time again for reinforcements 😎😉and everyone moves to Kalpa Kuteera for Product sampling.

This is when various dairy and other product samples of Akshayakalpa are made available for tasting and feedback and suggestions are  collected from the guests. A subject matter expert conducts this session and also briefs the audience about the technical details and other information about the items.

This time our samples consisted of Mango and plain Yogurt, which are 2 products that are yet to be launched. The mango is free from added sugar and depends on the fruit for its sweetness. Both the items were packaged in biodegradable paper boxes.

From here, the guests proceed to participate in village games at the play area which is near the campsites.

Under supervision of the staff, children learn to wield a bow and arrow, use a catapult, toss a shot put ball, swing on a tyre and even climb a coconut tree with the aid of specific equipment.

Picture from Akshayakalpa

Picture from Akshayakalpa

They are also taught how to make whistles and watches with coconut palm leaves.

Picture from Akshayakalpa

This entire session takes a couple of hours after which everyone proceeds to Kalpa Kuteera for lunch.

Post lunch the guests go back to their tents to pack up and then they proceed to collect their orders and then finally leave for home.

Day program –

Timings – 11am – 5.30pm

The day tour is quite similar to the Day 1 itinerary of the overnight program, with a few minor differences. Of course these guests do miss out on most of the other events that happen on Day 2. This tour also begins at 11am sharp and the visitors go through the entry formalities, get their welcome drink, their bullock cart ride, the beekeeping session, the orientation talk and then lunch.

After this, they directly go on to the vegetable RnD where they proceed with harvesting and placing their orders for whatever products they wish to buy. These are then packed in cardboard boxes and collected at departure while in the interim, the guests go on to the Dairy RnD for the same experience as mentioned earlier.

The departure is around 5.30pm after tea and snacks.

Visitor profile –

The farm tour is mainly for those who are keen on experiencing a rustic and earthy lifestyle and also for those who are eager to learn about how farms work and are prepared to rough it out in the process. There is no luxury as we know it and neither is there any fancy infrastructure. However, basic amenities are provided, which make the stay sufficiently comfortable. Hence it is suitable for families with members of all ages, right from toddlers to the elderly.

Also as mentioned, those who might not want to stay in tents, do have the option of staying overnight in a hotel at Tiptur town and therefore do not need to worry on that account. I must mention though, that most people opt for the tents and find the adventure quite exciting.

They also educational organize tours for school children who might opt for the Day program or even an overnight stay where they are housed in the Trainee Dormitory along with their teachers.

Best time to visit –

The farm is open to visitors all year through. It is definitely more crowded on the weekends and the chances of having a less congested scenario might be higher on weekdays. So you can choose accordingly, in case you have the liberty to do so.

Likewise, the weather is definitely hotter in the summer months of March and April and more pleasant during the rest of the year.

What you should carry –

Clean filtered water is provided from the RO unit at the plant and dispensers are available at convenient locations. It is better to carry your own reusable bottles and refill them when needed.

While plates, cups and other cutlery are provided, one is free to carry their own since each one is expected to wash whatever they use. Also carry your own reusable/biodegradeable straws for tender coconut water, buttermilk from the packs and other beverages, if you are not comfortable drinking directly.

Simple and functional bed linen is provided but for those who are comfortable with their own especially during Covid times, should carry what they are used to.

Hot water is available for bathing but carry your towels and all toiletries.

A good pair of walking shoes is a must because it will make it easier to go around the farm.

And carry your camera if you wish to shoot birds and other things.

It is quite hot and sunny in the day time especially in summer, so a cap and sunglasses are necessary. Light, comfortable and simple clothing is recommended.

In winter and rainy season, carry warm clothing because it can get quite cold in the nights and early mornings.

Cardboard boxes are provided to carry the organic produce that you wish to buy but one can also carry reusable shopping bags if you wish.

What you should NOT carry –

Single use plastics are frowned upon. If you do have any such item in your possession, then make sure not to dispose it in the premises but carry it back home with you.

Alcohol, non veg food, junk food etc is also not permitted and neither is smoking, chewing tobacco etc.

Covid protocols and safety instructions – 

All the expected protocols related to Covid are indicated at the time of booking, along with other general instructions. All the rules are available on the website too.

To maintain discipline and have a hassle free experience, it is advisable to follow all the instructions given by the guide and other staff who are always available in case of any necessity.

There is an in-house nurse and small room to administer first aid. They also have an ambulance that can transport anyone in need to the hospital. The nearest hospital is in the town of Tiptur 12km away and the nearest city hospital is in Hassan, 50km away.

General guidelines –

While all instructions are clearly indicated at the time of booking, I will mention some of the salient ones here since they are very particular about adherence to certain rules like no food wastage, no littering, disposing waste into specific bins that are clearly labelled, wearing of the visitor badge at all times, no harming the environment or animals and other such rules that ensure disciplined behavior.

Also please ensure punctuality and be there at the indicated time of 11am. Those who troop in late will create more work for the guides who will have to repeat the information. The latecomers may also risk missing out on the initial activities.

Internet and connectivity – 

Internet connectivity is reasonably good inside the premises.

Getting there –

Google location of Akshayakalpa 

Akshayakalpa does not provide transport to the visitors.

Tiptur town can be reached from Bangalore by train and it is a very comfortable journey of 2 – 2.5 hours. One can also get there by bus and there are several trains and buses in a day. The distance of 135 km can also be covered easily by car.

However, the town to the production unit/farm is another 12km/20 minute drive by road. Hence is advisable to travel to the farm by one’s own vehicle because the place greatly lacks frequent public transport.

But for those who do not have their own vehicle, local cabs will organized on request, though they are quite an expensive proposition.

My journey – 

I left Bangalore by road at 7.30am and reached by 10.30am. The road is quite good and there are quite a few restaurants with reasonably manageable rest rooms en route. The journey was very comfortable and quite uneventful. We stopped for breakfast at Halli Mane and being the weekend, it was extremely crowded. The same was the case with all the other restaurants on the way, going by the number of cars parked outside each one.

Weekdays may be a better option for those who can manage it.

Likewise on the return journey we left by 3.30pm and reached around 7.30pm despite the Sunday incoming traffic.

Booking and contact – 

At the time of writing this post, the charges for the Day tour are  a very nominal Rs 500/- and the overnight is Rs 1000/- per head. Children between 6-12 years pay only Rs 500.

The paid tour is open for booking to anyone who is interested. They also have a complimentary option for their Platinum customers who are those who recharge the Akshayakalpa App with Rs 5000/- at a time.

Link for Online Booking

Phone – 

For Booking and enquiry – +91 9535388122
Customer care number – 080 6802 2011

Mail Akshayakalpa

Address and Google location –

Akshayakalpa Farms and Foods Pvt Ltd

No. 48/2, 49/2, 49/4, Kodihalli Village, Budavarasante-Kenkere Road, Anathi Post, Channarayapattana taluk, Hasan District, Karnataka 573131

Google location of Akshayakalpa 

More details about them are available on the –

Website of Akshayakalpa

Facebook page of Akshayakalpa

Instagram of Akshayakalpa 

Google Link for the App


For more pictures see My Facebook – Akshayakalpa Consumer Visit (coming soon)

Also catch me on My FacebookMy Facebook pageMy Twitter and My Instagram

Please Note – This is a collaboration with Akshayakalpa. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.

All photographs are mine unless specifically indicated. All photographs of children and adults are posted with written permission from Akshayakalpa.

March 5th – 6th, 2022

 

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8 Responses to Akshayakalpa – Farm Visit Program

  1. Rajesh Goel says:

    Superb coverage by you Ma’m.
    On top of it till today it is one of our nicest experience being in Akshyakalpa Farm.
    And we being lucky to be captured by you and it has now become a lifetime experience for my family.
    Congratulations to you also for being such a great writer.

    • Caroline Radhakrishnan says:

      Thank you so much for your appreciation and for your lovely feedback. Glad to have been a part of this wonderful experience.

  2. Deepak says:

    Wow…that was such an exhaustive account of this remarkable place. And lovely photographs too. Some very exciting work happening in this place and I’m happy to mention that I’m a regular customer of some of their wonderful products. I would love to visit this place sometime!!

    • Caroline Radhakrishnan says:

      Thank you for making the time to read and leave your feedback. I truly appreciate it.
      You should plan a visit.

      • Sandeep Das says:

        Thanks Carolina for posting this and advising us to visit this superb place.. I must say you have captured every single bit about the farm.. We have thoroughly enjoyed each of the stuff mentioned in blog.. The hospitality, food, environment, people around just take you back to village days and they actually teach us what is organic.. Feel so fresh visiting this place.. Yet again you have proved that.. Thanks to you and Akshayakalpa group

        • Caroline Radhakrishnan says:

          Hi Sandeep. Always a pleasure to recommend good place to good people like you. I am so glad that you enjoyed the experience. Thank you very much for your motivating appreciation.

  3. Shilpa G says:

    Excellently captured. A must visit for all who want understand the source of the food.

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