When Nishant Kulkarni packed his bags for a trip to Shahapur two weeks ago, he left out the pack of cards, books and snacks he usually carries on weekend trips.
Kulkarni’s itinerary for the trip to the village off the Mumbai-Nashik highway was packed with activities such as ploughing fields, milking cows and taking tractor rides.
“For once, my family went on a holiday with nothing but an open mind,” said the Thane-based architect.
Like the Kulkarnis, several city families are flocking to farm-tourism destinations, which have mushroomed at driving distances from the city. The number of such tourists in the state has grown by 45% over the last year.
“The worth of the rural tourism sector has doubled to Rs5 crore in the past two years,” said Pandurang Taware, director (sales and marketing), Agri-Tourism Development Corporation.
Most people who try this get hooked. “People who plough a field want to revisit it to sow seeds,” said Inir Pinhiero, co-founder Grassroutes, a company that co-ordinates weekend trips to villages. Some travellers visit farms to experience the hardships of village life. Karen Braganza, for instance, was not sure if she could cut firewood. “I couldn’t lift the axe in the first attempt, but learnt it eventually,” said the 29-year-old.