In my life as a travel blogger, I have visited several resorts of varying sizes and a range of potential for tourism experiences but the relatively small and rustically simple 15 acre Chiguru farm blew me away with the sheer number of meaningful possibilities that it offers to its visitors, right within its premises and also in its immediate surroundings.
Raghu the owner, strives to provide experiences that are down to earth (literally) and related to outdoor and rural life. The events and activities at the farm serve to be highly educational in nature, while incorporating a strong and natural element of fun and entertainment.
So sway along from the prop roots of the ancient banyan tree, as I take you through a swinging time through the farm.
Read on for Part 3 of 3 – Chiguru Farm, Experiences
As mentioned in the overview, Chiguru Farm is a 15 acre space which functions as an organic farm which grows several common and uncommon types of horticultural crops.
Intending to provide experiential tourism, the theme here is to cater to visitors who are keen on learning about the processes related to farming and also experiencing what true rural life is all about.
The main aim is to impart fun filled education and the focus is on school children from a range of age groups.
Of course adults are equally important too 😀 and there are a host of outdoor activities for nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts.
The possibilities are several and I will try to list as many as I can.
One can follow the Facebook Page of Chiguru Farm in order to stay updated on their regular tours and upcoming special events.
Options for Farm visits –
I will start with the various ways in which one could spend time at the farm because the duration of the stay usually determines what one can achieve. Guests can opt for day trips or short stays or even prolonged sojourns, depending on what their intention and motivation is.
Some of the aims are – educational school trips of short and long duration, camping for school children, family get togethers and celebrations, group camping, work from farm, seasonal fruit gathering, short and long term volunteering, star gazing and yoga events, cycling sessions etc.
Of course one cannot forget one other significant motive for visiting the farm and that is the ‘Do nothing’ reason. In fact there are many who arrive with great aspirations and then discover that there is no greater achievement than eating and sleeping and breathing in the fresh countryside air 😀
Also it is notable to mention that the farm is pet friendly. But make sure you inform in advance that you are bring your pet over and what species exactly your pet is 😎
Educational School Trips and Nature Camps for children –
School children can visit the farm for a Day excursion or for a Nature camp of longer duration with stayover. Groups sizes are upto a maximum number of 25 children along with their accompanying teachers.
The main theme of school trips is education, the definition of which is far more fun and entertaining than what they are used to within the closed walls of their classrooms. Making sure that their time with nature is spent meaningfully, Raghu strives to ensure that his little visitors are enriched with relevant learnings after their sojourn at the farm.
The age groups of the children range from primary school right up to high school and the content of each session is customized to map their school curriculum to real life learning. For example, children who are learning about pollination actually get to view the bees literally doing their thing from flower to flower or actually touch and feel earthworms which they have only hitherto read about as being farmer’s best friends and so forth.
In general, children get to learn about organic farming and farm life while actually taking part in activities like climbing trees, observing birds and insects, viewing the live action of the earthworms in the compost pit, interacting with the local staff, sowing, harvesting, feeding the animals, learning to play forgotten traditional games, reading a book in silence (also a nearly forgotten activity 😏), tasting traditional fare instead of fast foods and learning to appreciate all that is natural and simple.
Nature Camps – the farm organizes nature camps and summer camps for school children. The duration spans 2-5 days and children get a first hand experience of farm life, covering the range of activities mentioned in the earlier paragraph, along with the experience of pitching tents and sleeping in them, star gazing at night time, yoga etc and also outdoor pursuits like trekking, rock climbing, village visits, cycling and so on.
Day tour experiences for families and groups –
A day tour is great for those who are short on time and cannot stay over. Being close to Bangalore, it is not difficult to travel to and fro within a span of a day.
The purpose of the tour is to get a quick feel of the various facets of farm life and to enjoy the countryside in a guided manner.
Currently due to covid concerns, the total number of participants per session is restricted. You can check with Raghu before booking.
A typical day tour begins with breakfast at around 9 am. Try to arrive on time or else you will fall back on the schedule. Also the heat tends to get overwhelming as the day progresses and the farm tour may get a bit exhausting.
In brief, Raghu takes the guests around a portion of the farm which showcases the various crops and trees. He also explains organic farming techniques like vermicomposting, rainwater harvesting, greywater filtering, multicropping, drip irrigation etc.
Guests can pluck and relish the fresh produce, climb trees and even swing from them, spot birds of various species, play with the farm animals and even participate in some farm labor.
The tour lasts around 2 hours at a leisurely pace.
The reward for this hard work is assured in the form of a sumptuous traditional rural vegetarian Karnataka meal served on a banana leaf and which is guaranteed to put you in no mood to do anything other than flop down in a coma 😀
Those who are made of stronger stuff, can opt to play some of the traditional games in the recreational area and the rest can curl up with a book from the mini library or just sit around and chat until the tea time snacks magically appear from the kitchen.
Visitors usually leave the premises in the evening.
Short stay experiences –
This option is for guests who come here to stay over for short durations that range from one night onwards. A typical stay here includes similar daytime activities as a day trip, apart from early morning sessions of yoga or short treks or bird watching or visits to the local village or other similar experiences.
With more time on hand, one can choose to take part in farm work like sowing, harvesting etc or spend time with the farm animals or play games like badminton and tennikoit or just stroll around the farm.
Late evenings are enjoyed with a bonfire (during winters), star gazing, enjoying the flashes of fireflies and just sitting around listening to the sound of silence.
Dinner is served around 8 pm after which one can laze around in the courtyard before retiring to bed or chat with Raghu, who has many interesting topics to talk about.
Volunteer program –
The farm is a member of Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WOOF India) through which people who want to volunteer on organic farms are connected to farms who provide such opportunities.
The volunteer has to commit for a minimum duration of 15 days because it takes at least 4 days to understand the workings of the farm.
They have to contribute meaningfully for at least 4 hours per day during working hours. Raghu imparts the basic training that covers all the usual farm work and one has to be prepared to do whatever falls within this ambit.
The stay is not charged if the person opts for the dormitory but room stays have to be paid for. Food is provided on the house. The participants have to be self sufficient in handling their personal work too, which includes washing their plates, doing their own laundry and even preparing their own food if need be.
Chiguru farms has had volunteers from all over India as well as those from Switzerland, Germany and other European countries and who have stayed for durations of several months to even a year.
Some of the facilities –
Recreation room –
This is a space which houses a library and provides some board games as well as old fashioned traditional games like Pagade, Chowka Bara, Al-guli-mane etc. A cupboard full of books serves as the mini library.
They also have badminton gear, tennikoit and cycles for those who have the energy to do this after that feast 😀
A cupboard full of books functions as a mini library, which is also stocked with a few books by Kenneth Anderson who was a British hunter and writer who was born in India. His books are about his adventures the jungles of South India, including this region where the farm exists.
In-house Tiger safari –
Chiguru’s best kept secret is their Tiger safari 😁
Ok I am obviously joking, though years ago this was said to be tiger territory. Currently there is only one contender for the post and he sits around all day doing nothing. Much like some of the guests 😎
Brought initially to scare the monkeys who maraud the fruit, this chap now sits benignly wherever he pleases, pleasing children and adults alike … While the monkeys do whatever they please 😀
Other activities, experiences –
Mango and other fruit picking events –
Fruit gathering events are conducted in the appropriate season and the most popular is their Mango picking event and Litchi event.
The schedule is similar to that of a day trip but the focus is on plucking the fruits and buying them.
Visitors can have fun by climbing the trees and plucking and eating the fruit right off the branches, which is definitely an exciting experience especially for those for whom this is a novelty.
The meals during these events, also center around the star of the show and many mango based dishes dominate the banana leaf.
Bonfire and barbeque –
Other than in the summer months, one can enjoy bonfires that are lit in the pit of the courtyard. Guests can also use the fire to roast or cashews, jackfruit seeds, pineapple, corn, sweet potato and other vegetarian fare, depending on what is available.
Cycling tours –
Cycling tours of varying difficulty levels and distances are organized in the surroundings a couple of times a year. The farm is the start and end point of these tours and Raghu takes care of the arrangements that include packed food, guides and other relevant needs.
Trekking trails –
Within the farm – 15 acres of land is available at the disposal of those who want to stroll around the farm. The banyan tree, the little water body just outside the boundary, a few scenic view points etc are what can be experienced, along with bird and insect spotting.
The excitement is shared by the farm dogs too, who frolic around keeping the guests company. The lone cat too tries to keep up with its canine peers and provides quite a bit of amusement and entertainment 😀
Outside the farm – There are several trekking paths in the surroundings and one can choose from varying levels of difficulty.
The nearest trail is a short one that leads to 2 beautiful temples said to be over a 1000 years old. The Shiva temple has 2 wonderful Bael fruit trees next to it and when I visited, they were laden with fruit.
The farm is situated on the edge of the Bilikal forest and some of the trails lead to vantage points that offer stunning views of expansive landscapes, magnificent hills and blazing sunsets.
One can consult Raghu for advice and he can also arrange for a guide if need be.
Bird watching –
There are over a 100 species of birds in and around the farm. One can spot several of them during early morning walks and also in the water body that is adjacent to the farm boundary. The air is filled with birdsong throughout the day.
In a single morning I managed to spot white cheeked barbets, coppersmith barbets, kingfishers, drongos, racket tailed drongos, green bee eaters, laughing doves, magpie robins, sunbirds, egrets, herons, cormorants, bulbuls, oriental white eyes and several other species.
Yoga camps –
Yoga and meditation camps are organized to introduce yoga and yoga therapy for families and groups.
Star gazing –
The atmosphere in the countryside at nights, is relatively unpolluted either by dust or light and hence the night sky is clear and conducive for star gazing. Sessions are organized by the farm which include camping in tents onsite and observing the stars and the night sky through a telescope.
Events are also conducted during special celestial occurrences, with the guidance of professionals and specialized equipment.
These workshops are conducted by qualified trainers and are usually attended by photography professionals.
Outdoor camping facilities are available for families, groups and even school children, all on prior booking. Chiguru farm provides the camping ground, basic facilities and food. One can bring their own tents or request for Raghu’s assistance in hiring them.
Cooking classes –
Guests can spend time with the cooks and learn some of their traditional dishes while they are prepared for the meals.
Work from Farm –
Covid brought about the concept of Work from Home and as an extension to that, Raghu offers short and long term Work from Farm options. The venue is a cozy co working cabin that can house 2 people at a time, which also provides a sweeping view of the plantation and beyond.
One can also choose to have small teams that can work from anywhere on the farm, with the help of the Jio wifi.
My experiences –
I was at the farm for a 2 night stay and that in that duration I managed an early morning trek to a couple of ancient 1000 year old temples in the vicinity, which also doubled (and tripled) as a bird watching tour and a visit to the lake.
The regular farm tour happened after breakfast, along with a few more day guests who arrived later.
A 20 minute evening hike led by Raghu to a sunset view point, was the highlight (literally) of my trip. A palash tree ablaze with red flowers, viewing the slow disappearance of the burning crimson orb as the sun set behind a mountain range, the sight of a near full moon hovering around the shikhara of the ancient Shiva temple and other such unforgettable spectacular sights were the reward for my climb.
Apart from this, I of course spent time plucking fruits and vegetables, gaping unabashedly at the green litchis that had not yet decided to ripen, getting trigger happy and uncontrollably photographing everything in sight especially the birds, interacting with the cooks and even getting sufficiently inspired to demonstrate to them my special recipe for banana skin chutney, which turned out all the more tasty with their freshly harvested bananas.
And bird lovers, your homework is to name these 12 chaps 😀 You can do so in the comments.
My experience of this ‘Slow holiday’ was exactly what I needed to rejuvenate my mind and body which were dulled after a whole year of covid enforced imprisonment and I returned home duly refreshed and recharged.
Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Chiguru Farm. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
March 26th-28th, 2021