Gujarat, the diverse, colourful district located between the Jhelum and Chenab rivers, is known for the simplicity of its residents, its cuisine, attire, culture, and heritage.
We spent our family holidays this season at the Club Mahindra Gir resort. As we witnessed the wildlife and indulged in the delicacies of this unique place, we were excited to embark on a farm visit arranged by the resort. Here is an account of our farmhouse visit that the concierge at Club Mahindra beautifully arranged.
The thrilling prologue of the journey
Club Mahindra Gir arranged for an exclusive car for our party – we were 10 of us – and we set off early in the day so that we could make the best of the daylight. Though the trip itself was remarkable, the last part of our journey found us bumping along the dirt tracks to the farmhouse. You can only guess at the thrill, fear, and excitement of the journey – it is a thing to be experienced – especially if you are born urbanites like us.
The local essence of the farmhouse
The farmhouse was a sprawling structure situated amidst tall trees and a number of outhouses. Painted a fading yellow, the farmhouse was a brick structure with a slanting thatched roof. The farmer offered us tea, sherbet, or coffee with khakda and fafda typical Gujarati dishes made from Bengal gram flour and Indian spices. There was also jalebi, khandvi, and some sandwiches. After breakfast, the farmer took us on a personal tour of the farm.
The diverse produce of the district
Gujarat district has a flourishing agricultural business. The farm we were at had cotton, mustard, and bajra. As we walked along the pathways across fields, our guide from the resort told us about other agricultural produce in the district. Other produce included bajra, wheat, maize, rice, mustard, sesame, and a whole lot of fruit and vegetables. While groundnuts, tobacco, and cotton is the main produce, mango, the king of fruits, took the lead.
The scrumptious flavour of the local cuisine
after a tour through the fields, we returned hot and tired to the homestead, and a tall glass of lassi - a drink made from yoghurt and spices – awaited us. As we relaxed and sipped the sweet-salted drink, the farmer’s wife stoked the chullha – the stove – and set about fixing lunch while the children played around.
Lunch was Undiyu a speciality of Gujarat made from mixed vegetables with bajre-ki-roti a thin pancake made from flour of pearl millet and garnished with homemade butter – makkhan. Gujarati curry – made again from yoghurt – with rice rounded off the meal. There was a dessert of aamras – did you know that the people of Gujarat relish aamras with puri? The whole meal was washed down with chaas – a tall glass of cool buttermilk.
As we indulged in a wholesome meal, our guide translated the tales regaled by the farmer about the culture and heritage of Gujarat.
The madness of mango mania and delicacies
Did you know that Gujarat is one of the top producers of mangoes? Our host of the day offered us aamras or mango juice.
At teatime, we tried dhokla, another Gujarati dish made from Bengal gram. This sweet, sour, and salted dish were tangy and refreshing. There was also shrikand puri for those who were hungry. Shrikhand is another sweet-sour savoury made from hung-curd. The little kids in our group sat alongside the farmers’ kids and slurped the juice straight out of the mango! It was fun to rough it out in the farmhouse. With satiated appetites and an enlightening experience of the local culture, we were glad to soon head back to the comfort of our resort.
The journey back to ‘home sweet home’
The journey back to the resort was peppered with more tales from our guide about the local culture and cuisine. I was fascinated with the Navaratri festival and asked our guide to tell us some folklore. Our guide obliged and entertained us with the legend behind the famous Somnath temple – where we were headed the next day.
Happy and exhausted, we reached the resort where the staff welcomed us with pure luxury. A warm bath with aromatic salts pleasantly revived the memories of an eventful day.
We continued our culture trip to the restaurant where we enjoyed light folk music. In the mood of celebrating our vacation with kids, we wholeheartedly participated in a garba dance performance organised by the resort. Dinner was another delight of more rich, local cuisine prepared by the chef especially for us.
Retiring in the comfort of our rooms, the aroma from the mango orchards inspired recollections of the unique trip we had to a farmhouse. The personalised service, exclusive ambience and lux amenities, definitely put Club Mahindra Gir to the top of our list, as one of the best resorts in India for family vacations.