Hidden Village, Shahapur, Maharashtra

The village may be magic
It may be something in between
In truth all I can tell you
What I saw, not what I mean…
It’s a village, plain and simple
In the woods, all shades of green
Unkissed, and yet so perfect
stuck in stasis, in between…

Definitely borrowed, but these beautiful lines do strike a chord with a city-slicker like me, wanting to run away, as fast as I can, from this throbbing, deafening chaos straight into the arms of the swaying, whispering woods that’ll hug me like my mother and never let me go.

Hidden Village does just that.
The rustic entrance of woody bamboos welcomes you to an earthy interior where cool breeze blows you a kiss, sun rays peer through the stubborn foliage and unusual feathered fellas happily totter away.
bamboo-entrancePeace cocoons as you stretch yourself on the porch. You are involuntarily drifted into a lull as soft music wafts from the speakers attached above your window.

If sitting idle ain’t your thing (it ain’t mine either 😛 ), then take your shoes out for a stroll across the property that spans four acres of luscious greenery. After driving through the sizzling hot and arid highway for almost an hour and a half, you realize, this place has created its own microclimate that does everything to alleviate your senses.

Walk over the bamboo bridge that stands above the perennially flowing stream. A family of ducks waddles through, frequently bobbing down to catch their feed.

Dunk your feet in its coolest waters and you feel something tickle below. These are the teeny-tiny fish that do the harmless nibbling, giving you a pedicure of sorts.

To the other end of the bridge, a cutesy waterfall plunges into a small pond.

Ever been in a swimming pool that’s infused daily with fresh waters of the stream?

Farm animals are mighty pampered here.
Like them…

And her…
henAnd them…

When your feet are weary of wandering, head for lunch that awaits in the dining area. You dine among coolness of terracotta roof and muddied floor, while the feathery wonders scurry around, least bothered by your presence. Timings are set and so are the meals.
dining-areaThis isn’t a foodie destination, mind you. So expect basic yet delectable home-style veg and non-veg meals. It’s a buffet of crispy fried fish, egg curry, chicken curry, veggies, rice, chapattis, and salad. Wash these down with a glass of ice-cold Chaas (buttermilk). Finally, end your meal with yummy hot Gajar or Dudhi Halwa. Breakfast, too, is a traditional affair with poha, upma, puri bhaji, egg bhurji and steaming hot tea.
Ingredients are freshly sourced from the nearby village. Humble and unpretentious, they are prepared by the loving locals who work on the property, thus making the food hearty and comforting.

When your tummy surrenders and you can barely keep your eyes open, go sink into the soft, cozy bed that beckons you. Our Fern Villa is painted with happy hues and exudes an old wold charm.
fern-villa-1It’s equipped with all the modern amenities – large LED TV, DVD player, split A/C, tea/coffee maker and a bottle cooler fridge, are all at your service. What really deserves a mention is the bathroom. It’s huge, never-seen-before spacious with a glass shower area and a twin tub.
fern-villa-2A private sit-out…

Don’t forget to set your alarm to 4.30. Sun somehow seems to have his own timings with villages. A twenty minutes walk back hills, through the tall grassy fields and a dried stream and you are in for a treat.
villagersThe pristine lake is captivating. Its placid waters shimmering with rays of the dissipating sun look perfect against the backdrop of rolling green hills. No one has ventured out here. Not a soul. Silence is palpable. All of these lend a perfect aura to satiate us suburbanites craving for a piece of tranquility. Just when you realize, you haven’t had enough of this serene panorama, it’s time to head back before it turns dark. Dark here means 6.15.

Return home to hoards of activities that’ll keep you occupied and have you famished until dinner. Play area for adults is equipped with pool table, table tennis, carom boards and hand soccer.
play-areaThere’s plenty to keep the kids entertained too. Swings, see-saw, slides and merry-go-round , all will keep your tiny ones pretty occupied. There is also a small ground for team sports like cricket, badminton, Volleyball and other groupies.

Lounge on one of these under the dim light of dangling oil lamps and let the conversations flow, before calling it a night.

Rise early, tear yourself from under the warm quilts and take a walk around. The village mornings are not to be missed. Lend your ears to the avians’ chirping merrily, feel the echoing tranquility and sniff that rustic village air before heading for a hearty breakfast of delicious, savory Poha and steaming hot tea.

On the day of check-in, I’d come across a booklet lying at the reception. It’s like leafing through the autobiography of this place – into its past, journey until now and plans for future. I couldn’t resist myself from taking a pic of this very page that’s sure to blow your mind off.

It’s incredible how Mr. Tony Dsouza, coming from one of the insignificant pockets of Mumbai, buys a piece of land, waves his magic wand and turns a barren terrain into something this phenomenal. You can feel his efforts breathing in every corner, every brick of his creation. This place has not just given us city-folks a countryside to go back to, but has also generated employment to significant number of villagers living there. Speaking to them, you realize how much they own this place, how happy and proud they are to be here working, providing for their families and having an identity of their own.
Hidden Village is a trip down the memory lane, where you wish time just froze so you relive those moments of childhood, when buffaloes din’t feel smelly and cellphones were unheard of. You won’t be surprised if, on the day of check-out, you find yourself sitting at the reception, urging the sweet and warm, Mr. Claude Pinto, to extend your stay.

P.S.: Their website, http://hiddenvillage.in/ has all the details you need to know – the rates, booking, location, directions, meals, etc.
Click on the FAQ section and you feel as if someone just read your mind.

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