The state of Punjab has a unique offering for travellers that is a sure-shot way of catching their fancy. With its glowing farms, warm people and robust cuisine, it is no surprise that farm tourism literally took off in the state of Punjab and Citrus County was among the pioneering stays, which to this day has the advantage of being in a location that has easy access to Amritsar, Pong wetlands, Anantpur Sahib and Dharamshala. Firdaus is a Persian word that means ‘paradise’ or ‘jannat’ and is Citrus County’s working farm, on a citrus grove and close to a forest reserve, promoting agroforestry and agriculture.
Firdaus by Citrus County has now become a member of the RARE India Community, which consists of some of the finest hand-picked conscious luxury boutique hotels, palace stays, wildlife lodges, homestays and retreats of the sub-continent.
Stay: One of the first few pet-friendly places within driving distance from Delhi, Chandigarh and Amritsar with an airport at Adampur within an hour’s drive, Firdaus is set in 20 acres. Curated as an outdoor and active farm stay, it is a working farm with poplar, kinnow, orange and grapefruit trees. Four villas are spread out with plenty of open spaces that encourage guests to stay out as much as possible. Two Villas have two bedrooms and two others have one bedroom, attached baths, a common lounge and a pantry are common to each villa. Every villa has access to the outdoors which is why Firdaus is popular for activities like forest trails, cycling and four-wheel drive outs.
Popular among children, Firdaus encourage children to ‘be a farmer for a weekend’ where children are given duties and towards the end of the session discuss challenges, insights and ideas about farming. Parents with children drive down from Delhi and other surrounding cities, sometimes long-distance from Mumbai, for experiences that are focussed on children and young adults. Firdaus is also perfect for star gazing and can be the base to experience the Holla Mohalla festival of the Anantpur Sahib. For those interested in history, the Gurudwara of Anantpur Sahib has a museum dedicated to Sikh history. Harkirat Singh, the owner is an avid rider and hence Firdaus is also a paradise for bikers.
The cuisine is a definite highlight at Firdaus as Harkirat joins in and cooks up a storm outdoors. Some of their specialties include mustard fish, homemade village-style mustard greens (Sarson Ka Saag), mutton curry, Indi-Chinese and tomato paneer. Not to be missed is a signature detox tea cocktail made with fresh orange tea, honey, cinnamon and rum. As a partner with RARE India, their focus on community employment, water conservation, low plastic footprint, local and organic produce are attributes that Harkirat is very proud of. He also tells great stories and is proud of the culture of the region – be it the cuisine, Sikh traditions or local village life.
Harkirat Singh, Owner, Firdaus by Citrus County: Having begun in 2008, I found that farming was becoming limiting and farmers needed to supplement their incomes. Citrus County was born to provide an experience to itinerant travellers from around the world while creating opportunities for the local community through skill development, hospitality training and other opportunities to sell farm produce. Firdaus evolved to show guests what life on a farm can be while staying with a farmer’s family.
Shoba Mohan, Founder, RARE India: One of our initiatives is to show children and young adults’ life on a farm and the richness of this culture, the joy of farm-fresh food and being outdoors. Firdaus is a perfect example of a getaway that is fun, learning and time together for families while connecting them with local culture and community.