The Happiness Estate
The Happiness Estate

A farmstay in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra

Verdant Sindhudurg is the laidback and less flashy cousin of Goa. Pristine beaches, lush forests, green farms and delicious local food makes this a great destination for travellers. Add to that the fact that this green corner is still not overrun by tourists and that the tourist operations here—like travel outfits and homestays—are relatively sustainably run and local and Sindhudurg becomes an ideal holiday spot for a responsible traveller.

Close to the town of Sawantwadi lies a pretty farmstay, The Happiness Estate. Set in a 15 acre private forest-farm, The Happiness Estate offers six rooms in cottages built with local materials, like laterite stones and tiles, and in the local style. The two forest cottages are located close to the forested part of the property. Some of the rooms are air-conditioned, though artificial cooling is really necessary only in the summer months.

The grounds, which are mostly left wild, are filled with birds, squirrels and rabbits and are great for walks amidst the trees.

Guests can expect delicious home-cooked local Malvan style food made mostly with vegetables from the organic property. Considering how close the coast is, seafood—fish and prawns cooked in a fiery red coconut-based curry or fried in a rava or semolina batter—features heavily in the menu. The kokum and coconut milk digestive, sol kadi, accompanies most meals. 

The Happiness Estate offers a number of activities that make for a sustainable holiday in Konkan. Besides the fascinating forests, waterfalls and beaches, the farmstay offers a selection of non-motorised activities and authentic cultural adventures. You could visit the local market in the morning to buy fresh produce or forage in the property’s grounds, where over 60 species of vegetables, fruits and herbs grow, and be part of a cooking demonstration/class at the farm afterwards. Or you could join the local Koli fishermen on a fishing expedition in their wooden boats at the crack of dawn. The farmstay will also link you up with a group of fisherwomen who will take you on a boatride through the Mangrove filled backwaters nearby. It also offers a guided cycling safari in the countrylanes of Sindhudurg. A popular ride is the 30km trip all the way to neihbouring Goa, which ends with a lunch at a Goan home. The farmstay also offers scheduled creative residencies.

Price: From Rs 5,000 per room

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<h3>Slow Travel</h3>

Slow Travel

The cottages at the Happiness Estate are built primarily with local materials, like laterite stones and tiles, and in the local style. The 15-acre grounds are left mostly wild and over 60 species of vegetables, fruits and herbs are grown. The farmstay focuses on showcasing local cuisine and all ingredients are sourced locally, many from the property’s grounds. The farmstay follows other RT practices like avoiding plastic, offering natural toiletries, serving most of the meals on babana leaves or plates made of areca leaves and providing drinking water in earthen matkas outside each room and serving water and tea in kulhads. The earthenware is procured from local potters. The farmstay also offers a number of non-motorised activities like cycling tours. Other activities, like boat rides with local fisherfolk, focus on establishing a connection between the travellers and the locals and also ensure that some of the tourist income goes to the local community.