A farmstay in Himachal Pradesh’s apple belt
Himalayan Orchard is meant for those who want to enjoy nature in silence, go to bed early and wake up with the crowing of the rooster, spend the day reading, walking, bird watching, helping out with farming or cooking activities and in general enjoyING rural mountain life.
Located in the village of Rukhla, 65km from Shimla, in the Kotkhai-Jubbal-Rohru apple belt between the Pabbar and the Sutlej Rivers, Himalayan Orchard is a self-sustaining, eco-friendly farmstay.
A family tragedy led Devanshe Chauhan Lidgley’s family farmhouse to fall into disrepair. Devanshe and her husband Michael John Lidgley were living in Japan but they decided to move back to help her parents, repair the farmhouse—parts of which are over 70 years old—and convert it into a sustainable farmstay. The restoration started in 2012 and in 2016 the couple moved to the farmhouse full time. Devanshe is the third generation of the family to live and work on the farm, with the family going back more than 12 generations in the local area. The apple orchard was planted by Devanshe’s grandfather when he bought the land in 1937 and it is is one of the oldest apple orchards in the area. Guests are sure to benefit from the close connect the family has with the land and the community.
The farmstay offers four ensuite bedrooms and two basic singles, which are a separate unit. There’s also a self-catering wing. Since this is a mountain farmhouse, the bedrooms are on different levels. The common areas like the well-equipped kitchen, dining area and a well-stocked library are accessible to guests.
The farm grows numerous fruits and vegetables and keeps cows, goats and chickets. So expect lots of homemade jams, juice, pickles, preserves, ghee, butter, yoghurt, cheese and bread! Plus local Himachali food made of produce fresh off the farm. Guests can join in the cooking.
True to its close-to-nature philosophy, the farmstay does not offer television or internet. A typical day at Himalayan Orchard could start with an early morning walk along the forest, followed by breakfast of homemade bread, butter, cheese, jams and Himachali dishes. Then you could go on a post breakfast guided or self-guided hike on the many marked paths, all starting and ending at the farm. You could take a picnic lunch with you or return to enjoy a hot meal and laze in the library or the garden. Guests can try their hand at farming activities, like milking the cows, or playing lawn boules or snooker and other indoor games. Organise longer hikes, treks, mountain biking trips and bird watching walks.
The farmstay offers wellness and yoga focussed long weekend packages as well as a food-focussed (bread making, cheese making, jam, pickle and preserve making, wild food foraging) monsoon packages.
Price: Rs 2,500 per person per night; includes all meals, some guided forest walks and taxes.
Read more: https://www.himalayanorchard.com/
Himalayan Orchard has been engaging with the local community on waste management and picks up unwanted glass and plastic of the community and transports it to a recycling centre. Proceeds from this are used to buy books for the children of the community. Food waste at the farmstay goes to the farm animals or is composted and used as manure. Harvested rainwater is used for bathrooms, toilets, orchard and garden. In dry season the farm recycles grey water for watering the farm. Solar water heating is used for bathrooms. In winters, firewood from apple trees is used in the wood burning stoves for warmth. The farmstay does not offer plastic bottled water or commercial snacks and fizzy drinks. Almost all the food on offer, like breads, jams, cheese and other milk products, are made with produce from the farm.