You know there’s something wrong with city folk when their first reaction to a farm is, ‘it’s so green!’. For Gaytri Bhatia, owner of Vrindavan Farms in Alibaug however, it’s a small victory.

Representative pic
Representative Pic

A natural farming site for mangoes, herbs and spices, Vrindavan Farms encourages groups of volunteers from the city to work on their land for a few days to build a deeper bond with nature. “We’ve had more working professionals from Mumbai actively choose to spend time at the farm to connect with their surroundings and be a part of the process that gets their food from farm, to table,” says Bhatia.

Give me a break
Buttressing the notion that urbanites are now choosing to spend their time and money more fruitfully every weekend is Arjun Malhotra, co-founder of No Thepla Holidays, an experiential travel company. Riding on the success of their recent adventure sports expeditions in Kolad, Malhotra explains that the demand for alternative things to do every weekend is rising.

“We didn’t have to do any marketing for the last two retreats — we were booked out just by word of mouth. That and the fact that people are tired of the same old drinking and partying plans the city has to offer,” he laughs, “It’s pretty simple, people want to just do activities outside their mundane frame of everyday life.” Apart from rafting and camping, No Thepla has weekend trips that include nature photography, yoga and meditation in the pipeline, along with breaks planned exclusively for dogs and their owners that you can soon sign up for via portals like bookmyshow.com.

Mapping a trend
It’s not just about taking a break anymore, but connecting over common interests with like-minded individuals, says Caroline Tarantini, director at Mapventura, a company that specialises in India-focused travels and experiences. Next month, the company will be organising a storytelling workshop with published writer and columnist, Anupa Mehta. The workshop will cover various aspects of storytelling such as oral traditions across different cultures, along with tips to develop an original writing voice. Mapventura also organises rural trips centered around eco tourism, to help develop the areas they visit. “It’s not just professionals, but students and freelancers from various fields that sign up for these trips. While the group is mixed, they are all bound by a desire to do more with their free time,” says Tarantini.


Pause and Effect in Dahanu offers tranquil, gift-wrapped in greenery

Om on the range
In a similar vein, dancer and theatre personality Auritra Ghosh kick-started Pause and Effect, a getaway that aims to explore various phases of wellness: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, via workshops, and movement-based activities. A lover of the outdoors, Ghosh told us that the idea initially came to her during a morning run in Bandra. “The roads are always jam-packed and people are everywhere in this city! Access to nature, greenery and quiet is very difficult,” Ghosh explains, as she tells us about a perceived gap in the market for getaways that combine health, wellness and rejuvenation into one tidy package.

One can participate in activities such as yoga and reiki at Pause and Effect
One can participate in activities such as yoga and reiki at Pause and Effect

While it is called a wellness retreat, the idea is not just to relax and hang out, she says, as we note a hint of a schoolteacher tone in her voice. The broader aim is to get people to reconnect with themselves and with their natural surroundings, “Activities like yoga, pilates, reiki and martial arts offer both — a physical and emotional release for participants that results in a sense of confidence and fulfillment.”

No Thepla Holidays has several takers for their adventurous weekend trips
No Thepla Holidays has several takers for their adventurous weekend trips

With a hectic schedule in television, 32-year-old producer Priya Majumdar barely has any time of her own, but makes sure she signs up for a yoga retreat or goes paragliding whenever she can. “As strange as it sounds, getting out of the city on the weekends to do something completely disconnected from my current reality is what keeps me sane and fuels me through tough weeks at the office. Silly politics with colleagues pales in comparison to the rush of jumping off a cliff,” feels Majumdar.