Farm Weekend: Pali
Usual weekends in and around Pune aren’t always of the farm variety. Farmhouses, yes, but actual farm, no! So here’s a destination that can be a wholesome getaway for the entire family.
Not the closest for Punekars, Balaji Farms is located about 30km ahead of Imagica on the Pali Road. Easiest way to get there is using the Expressway and past Imagica. Going could be faster since it’s all downhill and you’re excited, but coming back may take longer. Really. (For detailed directions, visit www.balajifarms.com).
While the road is good for the most part, once you turn off the Pali road onto the interior roads, the going gets tougher. These roads haven’t seen a fresh layer of tar perhaps since the Vajpayee administration. Or even earlier.
Once you do finally make it there, take a moment and soak in the surroundings. It’s clean, green and noisy in a good way. For most of our weekend stay, we never heard anything more than the odd motorcycle or tractor go by. Otherwise, it was all fauna that was creating the racket. This farm has it all! Dogs (do give our regards to the fabulous Magic), cats, monkeys (careful of Mowgli!), turkeys, donkeys, mares, geese, ducks, cows, buffaloes and storks.
The on-site lake is also a great spot to do some fishing if you are so inclined. Another fishing spot is the rivulet flowing just outside this 8-acre property. We do believe our dinner was caught here. Or could have been in the lake. But I did feel some movement on the plate!
The staying arrangements are ‘rustic chic’. Meaning, there’s running water (mostly), lots of lights (albeit somewhat dim) and beds, plenty of electrical points for all your gadgets (although 3G is missing) and a lovely sit-out for a lazy evening with friends and family.
Presently, 3 cottages (or villas) are ready and each has a living room, bedroom, attached toilet and sit-out. One also has a bunk-bed kind of loft where 4-5 grown-ups can easily sleep. Quite convenient.
Nothing to do. Absolutely. Just laze, take a walk and soak in the beauty around you. If you like, you could trek it down to Imagica and come back for some peace and quiet… it’s just a 30-minute drive, really. But we strongly recommend you use this place to unwind and relax. Very soothing, indeed!
Service & Food
We paid about Rs 4,500 per room per night – all meals included. And for that price, the service wasn’t what was expected. Granted they are having personnel issues, but it should have been managed better. Without getting into specifics, we’d suggest you inquire about the staff available before booking.
For their part, the staff is courteous. They will help as much as possible, but they just don’t have enough hands. The food was above average and in general, quite healthy. Do let them know well in advance of your schedule, though, else you’ll just be waiting for food to be served.
A super place to be at, if the service is taken care of. We’d rate ambience about 9/10 but service we got was about 3/10. So be sure to ask before you travel.
Oh, and do haggle, please!