Stay at this Panchgani bread-and-breakfast for free by doing some organic farming
Would you like to WWOOF? No, we're not asking you to bark. We’re talking about helping out on a farm at a lovely Panchgani B&B that will waive off boarding charges
La Maison is the perfect place at which to switch off and become one with nature
Panchgani might be that over-explored destination that every city-weary traveller rushes off to on long weekends, but, thankfully, it still holds a few secrets. One such secret is La Maison (French: home), a cosy little B&B hidden away in the hills, amidst breathtaking views of the serene Dhom Lake and the vast valley that cocoons it.
If the opportunity is available when you visit, try your hand at farming in exchange for free accommodation
“After working and living a crazy life in Mumbai for several years, we decided to move away and switch off. That’s how we ended up coming to Panchgani,” says Laurene Irani, who started La Maison with her husband Meherdad in March this year. They, along with their five-month-old daughter, live at the property, which features four guest rooms.
A magical view of Dhom Lake, as seen from the property
How it works
The couple wants La Maison to be more than just a bed-and-breakfast. To see this dream to fruition, they have introduced features that make it different. “We offer guests an option called WWOOFing. With this, they can stay with us for no charge, provided they help us out on our organic farm for three hours each day,” she says.
Unfortunately, La Maison won’t be needing any more volunteers at the moment, as they’ve just finished harvesting a whopping 200kgs of potatoes on their farm with the help of a few WWOOFers. “If anyone wants to be a part of it in the future, all they have to do is drop us an email showing interest, and we’ll get back to them when we need help,” says Irani, adding that they plan on introducing more fruit and vegetable varieties next year.
Meanwhile, the couple is inviting people looking to conduct interesting workshops or retreats over weekends. Irani says, “We’re always looking for people to come and share their knowledge and talents with other guests.”
La Maison is worth heading to even when there aren’t any of the above activities planned. Bear in mind, however, that this is not a touristy hotel. To begin with, it is located off the grid, at a distance of 6km from Panchgani Market; getting there involves driving down yourself, or hailing a cab when you get to Panchgani. There is no television on the property, and you won’t be allowed to play loud music or create a ruckus with your friends. In fact, the duo prefers hosting solo travellers or couples.
“We welcome people who know how to respect nature. La Maison is our home. Here, it’s not just about checking in and checking out. It’s a place where you can enjoy the silence, get inspired by your surroundings, meditate or just relax and watch time go by with a cup of hot tea in hand,” she concludes.
At: Pangari Village Road, Panchgani.
Log on to: facebook.com/lamaisonbnb
Cost: Rs 1,500 for the small rooms, Rs 2,500 for the big rooms
Laurene and Meherdad Irani
What is WWOOFing?
WWOOF stands for ‘Working Weekends on Organic Farms,’ and refers to an international movement to support organic farming. It came into being in England in 1971, but has since branched out to different parts of the world, including India. La Maison is not part of the WWOOFâÂÂorganisation, but conducts this activity independently.
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