And it was one of those days, I was feeling uneasy at home much like it is always. A breather was really needed up in the mountains somewhere. It didn’t matter where. City life has its many flaws. Too much of it and I start to burn out. Two months of the year had passed away so quickly and life was not providing the answers that I was looking for. Not that it is easy. I was entering into a depression that needed to be diagnosed real quick. With the summer heat blazing in Kochi I needed a respite from it. So I decided to skip town. A close friend of mine suggested this place called Karuna Farm.
Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu had been enticing me for a few days and I narrowed down my search to find out the easiest and cheapest ways to get there. Kochi to Palani and then to Kodaikanal hopping on local buses for barely 200 bucks give or take. Smooth and easy.
Karuna Farm – A Natural Lifestyle Experience
Located a little away from the main town of Kodaikanal and I liked how they mention it on their website.
“Please do NOT use google maps to get here. There are NO public roads leading to Karuna Farm since we are through the forest department land. Therefore you will get lost using any sat nav systems.”
Being a person who always loves the sound of something like that and the subtle ring of adventure lurking in the deep. “This is more like my kind of a place,” I said in my head. If you look at its location closely on a map, you’d see it is located at the edge of the green patch called Adukkam Forests in the Palani Hills with nothing around it. Picture damp forest floors covered with fallen dry leaves with each step you hear a crunch, wild boars luring around thick thorny bushes, super muscular Indian Gaurs to stop you on your track and poisonous plant species spread everywhere. On one of the days I was there, I took a hike around and saw a 10-foot snake crawling its way under the fallen bark of a tree in the woods. Shivers!
The farm is located outside of the extremely touristy overpopulated and overpriced Kodaikanal town. Nothing appeased me in the town. And it didn’t really matter giving a skip to the usual picture postcard spots of this famous hill town. You will get a better idea of what I mean when you read the rest of this post and of course the pictures.
So what is different here?
Karuna Farm is not a place you enjoy a luxurious holiday stay as tourists would require. There are no infinity pools or lavish lounges and spas. This is a place where you could end up with creepy crawlies next to you on the bed. I’m sure 80% of the readers have left by now. Now for the remaining 20% who chose to stay. I was kidding! But not entirely.
When was the last time you experienced something of that sort? Where your senses are on high alert and somehow you use all parts of your mind and activate your primal instincts. Survival instinct is something we are born with as humans yet not everyone has been able to use it to its full potential. I’ve read there are parts of your brain that never gets activated unless you are in a place like this. Only a handful venture into places like these to escape life. While we chase after luxury and accessories in our lives, Karuna Farm can change that for you if you willing to accept a change.
Earthship Biotecture and Eco-Friendly living
This farm comprises of small purpose-built cottages using something called an Earthship Biotecture. An architecture model that uses natural materials for construction and blends into green eco-friendly sustainable living environs. Extremely low cost and skills are required to build these. The best part, they are solar independent structures, which means they heat and cool on its own adapting to any climate.
There are about a dozen cottages built in different styles from luxury to simple accommodating from one person to multiple people at a time and they are located a considerable walking distance from each other giving you ample privacy and your personal space within nature. You treat this farm as home and the people who run this place as a family, which means you do the cleaning and you don’t wait for housekeeping and you carry your own torches and candles.
The farm will teach you patience, simple living, and minimalism. Drinking and non-vegetarian food are strictly not allowed. Apart from the Earthships, some of the projects that they have done include permaculture, tree planting, and a cow farm.
Staying at Karuna
The cottages have some interesting names starting with the Shashi Big, Shashi Small, the Sunrise Chalet, Shiuli House, Gomukh, Saraswathi Big, Saraswathi Small, Ganga, Yamuna, Bhajan Kutir, Shanti, Surya, Rustic Hut, Kailash, Sangam, Sudhama and a 9-bed dorm all of them located well apart from each other.
You would be surprised when you see a few foreigners and locals who have given up life in the cities and have moved into the farm and have built their own Earthship houses. I met a South African family who is now settled on the farm with their kids. Vinay Parade, a photographer from Mumbai, constructed his own living space at one corner of the farm.
First Impressions and the plan
As I touched Kodaikanal, I caught up with my friends who joined from Bangalore. Together we got a jeep to drive us out of the town and to the edge of the farm, a bumpy scenic ride that one was. A pile of old tires acts as makeshift stairs going down to the farm from the point the jeep drops you. A sudden rush of pure O2, an eye dropping panorama and the sound of a nearby roaring waterfall invited me.
The plan was to stay there for the long weekend with my friends. That’s probably the only plan I had on this trip. We had a lovely time exchanging travel stories and played countless hours of monopoly and UNO. Socializing in real life without the burden of technology and aspects of modernity coming in between. Not to mention the short excursions we took at the farm beside the waterfalls and to the jaw-dropping viewpoint. At the end of the weekend, they had to leave which left me with a choice to either extend the stay there or leave. I chose to stay and moved into a single room cottage called the Sudhama from the triple sharing Bhajan Kutir which we shared.
A dimly lit solar lamp lit up the Sudama. A bed with warm blankets at the corner inside the yellow mud-plastered walls keeping me warm on the cold nights and cool in the daytime. Large glass windows in the small porch light up the room during the day. There was a small single burner stove for me to cook if I wanted to provided I get my own supplies from the town.
How I spent my time at Karuna Farms
While the rains continued to lash on and thick clouds covered the landscape, I chose to spend my time to read, meditate and take solo hikes around the farm and a few with a few with the other travelers I made friends with. If you take a short uphill but tiresome hike through the thorny thickets it will take you to the tall Eucalyptus trees planted by the British, to the highest point on the farm with views all the way to Madurai city in the plains.
Evenings were mostly spent socializing with the others staying at the farm. From playing carroms, discussing travels to having buttery finger licking home cooked food by the Nepali cooks at the common dining and chill out area which was complimentary with the stay. Wi-Fi is bleak which ensures you spend more time away from the digital world.
Self-sustenance and natural melancholy
The best thing about the farm is its self-sustenance. Vegetables, fruits, milk are all available in-house at the farm for purchase. Since Karuna Farm is not connected to the electricity grid, power is sourced from solar energy which powers up the lights in the cottages. Mornings can be spent wiling away at your favorite book or listening to the chirpy birds telling their story or watch the shadows fall as the Sun spreads out. There is some kind of natural melancholy with the clouds here at this height, pouring rain when it feels like and drifting away for the bright sunshine.
Of the time I spent here, I felt totally rejuvenated and fresh to the bone. It was the perfect getaway for me to simply relax, find myself, reflect with nature and also go back home renewed.
The place rightly calls it “A Natural Lifestyle Experience” which it certainly is. Something I will keep in my memories for life.
Some things to remember
- Please be advised that the restaurant and some guest services may be slower than you may desire.
- Karuna Farm is not a star resort or hotel. It is a rustic and simple place with simple accommodation.
- The farm requests the guests to be polite with their staff and not to expect a hotel like service.
- Minimum stay is 2 nights.
To get here, there is a 45-minute hike, from the closest paved road near Prakasapuram village. They do arrange 4×4 jeeps for a pick up from Kodai town to the gates of the farm at a reasonable price. After which you will need to hike around the farm to get to your preferred cottage.
Contact: Prakash +91-75488 85455
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*This is NOT a sponsored post.
*All views expressed here are my own and based on my time and experience at Karuna Farm.