Culture Aangan, Sawantwadi, Maharashtra

Months later, that Malvani lunch still makes my mouth water. The lush, spicy kombdi sukkha (chicken in a thick gravy) and that glorious mango sheera swimming in ghee, were an ode to the Maharashtrian summer. Our hostesses, a giggling mother-daughter team, cajoled us to have one more bhakri, just a little more sheera, until we could barely move.

This home-style hospitality is the hallmark of Culture Aangan that uses rural tourism to preserve biodiversity and put local traditions in the spotlight. The organisation helps locals turn crumbling old homes into guesthouses that blend modern aesthetics with green building principles. Our homestay, over 100 years old, was once used to store the farm’s agricultural produce. The mud structure remains largely unchanged, save for the floor tiling and bathroom fittings. Farmers are taught to vermicompost and recycle waste, rainwater harvesting pits are created, and tube lights are replaced with CFL bulbs.