Morachi Chincholi doesn’t quite conjure up images of swanky resorts, or plush villas where one can enjoy lush grasslands. Instead, it has quiet surroundings that are occasionally interrupted by the lilting meow of peacocks. The music in the air, to me, evokes the tunes of ‘The Song Is You’, the famous melody by Jerome Kern.
This is the unofficial peacock sanctuary of Maharashtra—an unassuming hamlet that claims to play host to a staggering 2,500 peafowls. It’s a number higher than the current resident population of the village!
As the name suggests, Morachi Chincholi is a village of tamarind trees and dancing peacocks. Local legend has it that many tamarind trees were planted in the village during the rule of the Peshwa dynasty, which attracted peafowls to this village. Since the peacock was the vehicle of Hindu goddess Saraswati, the villagers fondly took care of the beautiful birds, and allowed them to coexist for generations. In fact, our host in the family-run Mayur Krushi Paryatan Kendra said that the locals planted tamarind trees surrounding their farms to help the national bird of India thrive. Apparently, the relationship is symbiotic, as the birds also help out the villagers by feasting on crop insects and keeping snakes away.
The village is perfect as an offbeat spot for a day picnic, or a weekend getaway to escape the humdrum of city life. But if you think dancing peacocks and flying peahens are the only attractions at this rustic village, then you are in for a treat. Being at the forefront of Maharashtra’s agritourism scene, Morachi Chincholi also offers a visit to a local organic farm and pomegranate orchards. You can also enjoy a simple meal of organic vegetables, and their gavran (country) chicken elevates the experience to a whole new level. If this isn’t enough, the friendly villagers are also ready to walk an extra mile to arrange a bullock cart or a tractor ride, so that visitors can venture into practical lessons on organic farming and irrigation. Don’t forget to team up your peacock sanctuary experience with a hurda party organised by villagers to experience a slice of rural life. Available during chilly winters, hurda is a tender roasted jowar snack accompanied by chutneys made of dry coconut, garlic, and chilies. It’s a great addition to bonfire night celebrations with your family and friends.
During our time in Morachi Chincholi, we were quite overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the terrain. We had walked through a pomegranate orchard and caught a glimpse of dancing peacocks at a distance, just visible through the ruby-green foliage. We also understood organic farming techniques as they were patiently explained in depth. A pride of shimmering blue and green, with the backdrop of lustrous ruby-green farms, and a knowledgeable host surely concocted a magical day.
Morachi Chincholi is best reached by road. It is located on the Pune- Ahmednagar highway, at a distance of around 55 kilometres from Pune (which has the nearest airport) and 185 kilometres from Mumbai. Regular buses also operate from these cities to the village. Packages start from INR 600 for a day. For self-drives, visit morachichincholi.com\
The countryside comes alive during and after the monsoon, and it’s not just due to the dancing peacocks. Note that accommodation in Morachi isn’t luxurious, but there are comfortable homestay options. Once you’ve enjoyed all the agrotourism activities on offer, here’s what else you can see:
Ranjangaon: Situated 20km from Morachi Chincholi, the Ganpati temple here is the final stop in the Ashtavinayak pilgrimage. Lore says that Ranjangaon is where Shiva invoked Ganesha to defeat the demon Tripurasura.
Nighoj: A tiny village with stunning, naturally-formed potholes—possibly the largest in Asia. Located around 25km from Morachi, these surface pockets were scoured out of the Kukadi’s basaltic riverbed, when heavy rains caused the river to gush down with incredible force. Geologists still study these rare landforms today.