While having the palace constructed, Yashwantrao aimed for it to be a home to his grandson. Thus, when we headed upstairs we were greeted by multiple bedrooms and a nursery. Since Yashwantrao studied in England, his ties with the region were evident with the teak wood furniture found in all the rooms. His own bedroom had matching wooden furniture with the king-size bed (get it?), night stands, dresser, dressing tables, lamps and the couch, all belonging to the same set. The circular mirror was a beautiful finishing touch. His room also had a Concert Grand piano, which indicated his interest of music.
Yashwantrao dedicated a large room for the nursery of his grandson Mahindra Singh Mukne. While sage green is all the rage today, it dominated the color palette of Mahindra Singh’s nursery. The furniture again was from England and can easily be distinguished from any other of its time. The dresser was decked with adorable baby goat panels while the rocking chair and the bed had their own set of animals. The element that stood out was a matching stove, dedicated to the nursey. Near the ceiling, the wall had panels of little planes, which as the guide informed us was a detail added by Yashwantrao, since he knew how to fly and loved it.
The room just above the foyer, had a balcony with a glass door set in a wooden frame. It lined directly with the telescope for a line of sight with the sky. I can only imagine how pretty that must have been, given the lack of air pollution back in 1940. The rear view of the palace is equally enthralling. It overlooks a valley of endless green made up of forests and farms.
Over the last few days of my trip, I befriended a fellow guest family at Hideout. My new friend was a model by profession and was visiting the region with her two children. Her husband was a ship captain and thus was at sea for many months at a stretch. Thus, the mother and her children were well accustomed to go on short trips to break out of the city life monotony.
I talked with my new friend for hours. It felt like I had known her forever. It gave me an insight into her modelling projects and how she was proud of this career which she had just started two years ago. We also openly talked and laughed about tabooed topics and the evening felt inspiring and empowering.
The next day, me and the daughter of our hosts, joined our new friends as they headed to Dehrja River, which was a 10 min drive from Hideout. In terms of the natural beauty that the region offered, Dehrja River had to be the highlight. As soon as we reached there, it started drizzling but the rain gods were just getting started.
A few women were washing clothes by the small dam constructed on the river, but that water only drained in the central part of the river. The river was wide and the water flowing on the sides was pristine. With our footwear in our hand, we jumped over a few rocks and waded through the water to reach a spot in the stream where pace of the water packed enough fun but was not risky at the same time. We plopped our belongings on the patch of steady ground near us and immersed ourselves into the magic that the rushing water brought with it. We were hit by water on all sides, including from the top, since the dark clouds which were holding back till we settled in, had finally given in.
We splashed, we played, but most importantly, we lay. The water entering my ears, muted all the other sounds, making me feel the most peaceful that I had felt in years. The temperature was just right and it felt like nature personally drew a bath to pamper me.
My last few days on the farm were spent reading. I was reading the book ‘Sapiens’, written by Yuval Noah Harari. He talked about how Europeans ventured into new lands, learnt about them, eventually took over them and destroyed their people. The story of Hideout Farm was similar but yet so different. When the hosts Sangeeta and Hemant Chhabra moved to the obscure village of Zadpoli, they could have set up a commercial establishment with a consumerist mindset and faded out the the rusticness of the place. Instead, they chose to make an organic produce haven to act as an escape for city folk. They integrated and employed the tribal community and adopted all sorts of animals. In the evening when Sangeeta aunty calls all the ducks back to the coop, it feels like a mother quacking out to her children. After all, the farm and all its plants and animals are one big family.