India’s tropical south is a land full of verdant forests, green grasslands and tea plantations. Tucked away in this magical landscape is the farm of Sunil, his wife and their two children. The farm is their ancestral property for the last 4 generations and they produce coffee, pepper, rubber, ginger and tamarind every alternate year. Sunil is working as a software professional in Cochin, he is also a yoga teacher and closely associated with an N.G.O Uravu in Wayanad. Travel, photography, writing and music are his passions. I spoke with him about his farm, his culture and the best places to go as a traveler.
Sunil’s Farm, a hidden gem
Sunil’s farm is located in Wayanad, Kerala, a part of the Western Ghats. It is still one of the least explored regions in India. Home to fascinating legends, mysterious mountain caves, hidden treasures, aboriginal tribes, tree houses, jungle trails and exotic wild life, this little known district of Kerala is the perfect setting for a hundred great adventures. As it is one of the world’s last surviving tracts of tropical biodiversity, Wayanad’s terrain is characterized by extensive stretches of wilderness. When asking him what his secret spot is in this region he reveals, “there is a place near the Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary where you can sit for hours and watch wild animals like elephants, deer or peacocks. You can stay there in the night while being warmed up by the campfire. It’s a very special place. Furthermore the Edakkal caves, a Bamboo village I’m supporting and the Cembra Peak are definitely worth a visit”.
Culture wise Kerala is different to the rest of India although you wouldn’t immediately notice. When asking about this Sunil told me “Although the families of Kerala seem much like the families of all India, the status and the authority of the women is significantly different. They enjoy greater personal freedom than most women in other parts of India in taking decisions regarding marital and sexual relations. They play a crucial role in making household decisions, participate in educational, productive, and civic activities and thus empower themselves economically and politically”. Furthermore Kerala has its own typical dress. Sunil explains, “Mundu or dhoti is our traditional dress. The mundu is a garment worn around the waist. It is normally woven in cotton and colored white or cream. For the purpose of convenience when walking briskly or crossing a stream, the mundu is folded up to the knee level. This might look a little awkward to western travellers but the comfort we receive folding the mundu is great “.
How to book a stay on the Farm
As a traveler you can spend some time at Sunil’s farmstay, enjoying his hospitality and exploring this off the beaten track region. He has two eco-friendly, bamboo cottages, with thatched roof and wooden flooring next to his house. In the morning you can wake up overlooking lush green coffee plantations from your balcony. The construction of the cottages was undertaken by URAVU an NGO based in Wayanad, working with people, governments and businesses to implement programs for employment and income generation in rural areas.
Sunil is very conscious about the environment and the local communities near his farm. He supports the local tribes by employing them on his farm, buying products like vegetables, poultry and milk from local farmers and every traveler that comes to his place will be asked to plant a bamboo sapling for which they have to pay. The fund generated is donated to the Bamboo Village to support their activities of community development and woman empowerment.
Interested to spend some time on his farm? Have a look at a farmstay on a coffee plantation.