“We will redefine the quality there (talking about their new home stay at Tirthan, Kullu). We want to add more finesse into our properties,” remarks Harkirat Ahluwalia, owner of the Citrus County Farm Stay (available at Rightstay). After the grand success of their family’s citrus plantation, the pioneer of authentic Indian farm stays has already moved on to the next big idea. Away from the rustle and bustle of the city-life, the Citrus County Farm Stay offers all the exciting experiences! From plucking sweet tangerines in the orchard, to hearing the famous tunes of folk music and dancing around the bonfire on a starry night,  local tours of the historical city of Hoshiarpur, and of course, the exotic culinary adventure of traditional Punjabi food.

Harkirat Ahluwalia with one of his pride and joy, Citrus County Farm Stay (Credits: Citrus County Farm Stay)

Being an avid biker himself, Mr.Ahluwalia’s farm stay gives bikers, who come to smell the fresh country air, a place to catch their breath. They have the chance to unwind at the charming cafe of Citrus County, where they can chug down a pint of fresh beer, or taste the “white oak-enriched Chardonnay” (as described by Magandeep Singh from The Financial Express).

Enthusiastic bikers seen at Citrus County Farm Stay (Credits: Citrus County Farm Stay)

All this under the crisp clean air of Punjab, with the luscious greenery all around to uplift your moods, it would truly make you forget all about the perils of life. The Citrus County boasts of growing fruits such as Tangerines, Kinnows, Jaffas, Grapefruits, etc., to growing poplar trees for plywood, and finally, peacocks and peahens, and even pheasants can be seen roaming inside the property.

A visitor spending time in the beautiful orchard (Credits: Tripadvisor)

Citrus County witnesses tourists from all over the world. Mr. Ahluwalia reminisces about some of his memorable encounters with his foreign visitors. “See, we started this farm stay in 2008. Around that time, there once was an Australian guest who had decided to go for an evening walk. But we got worried when he didn’t show up even after it was 8, and it was getting dark. His wife had made her way back and was looking pretty worried for her husband as well. Suddenly, we see a bike coming toward us and we were surprised to see him sitting on the backseat with a local man riding it! It turned out that when that guy had taken a lift from the local, instead of driving the Aussie visitor back to the farm stay, the local decided to take him to his own house for tea!” he said, with a sense of proudness in his tone. It is truly a moment of happiness to see our neighbors taking such good care of our visitors from different parts of the world! The picturesque farm stay also housed 7 Swiss groups in just one year!

Spending time with friends and family on a winter evening (Credits: Nonewsnoshoes)

Aside from the delicious cookouts in a slow, open fire, the farm stay has also made its mark as one of the most popular spots for a destination wedding.  A true testimony to this is the fact that they have managed to be completely busy till April 2019, just for weddings! The lavish but authentic wedding scene consists of a 3-day event, at just Rs. 20,000/night. The events include: Mehndi, Bhangra Night, and to make the foreign visitors feel more complacent and at home, an evening dedicated to Ballroom dancing.  The groom gets to live his “knight in shining armor” moment by making his entrance on a horse, fully dressed in traditional Punjabi sherwani and a colorful turban. Similarly, the ladies get to drape themselves in gorgeous, vibrant sarees.  All of these beautifully made garments are sponsored by Fabindia. “I remember in one of the weddings there was a big Aussie group, and the groom had to take out his sword and yell “Waheguru ji da Khalsa, waheguru ji di fateh”, recalls Harkirat Ahluwalia, “The guy took around 2 hours to finally get it right! But when he finally did say it, it was perfect!”

Sharing the vibrant Punjabi traditions with their foreign visitors (Credits: RareIndia)

The Citrus County Farm Stay has also been making huge waves in the agro-tourism industry. The farm stay was featured in many projects, from BBC to Discovery’s special story on “Farm stays in India”. Citrus County was also featured as “Top 5 New Year Escapes” by the Lonely Planet. What is the other wonderful thing that sets the Citrus County apart from all the other farm stays? “80% of our staff consists of local women. So we are trying to increase employment and increase the opportunities and respect that these women deserve from their communities,” states Harkirat Ahluwalia, “We also do not use any plastics at our farm stay.”

For a complete farm stay experience, coupled with luxury tents that hold all the facilities, check out the Citrus County only at Rightstay.com

By Nina Sharma