The landscape of Indian homestays is not nascent in 2020. From quaint to vibrant and from budget to lavish, there’s no dearth of choice. But somewhere down the line, we seem to have forgotten the true meaning of a ‘homestay’. Here are 10 that will remind you of their true essence. By Rashima Nagpal
‘Gupta Ji’s’ Dak Bungalow is located on the outskirts of Peora — a quaint mountain village about three hours from Kathgodam railway station. It has been there since 1905. On what was once the Kathgodam-Almora-Bageshwar bridle road, a trade route, this typical dak bungalow served its purpose as an officer’s rest house. Some hundred years later, its present residents, Shubha and Pradeep Gupta found it and decided to refurbish it. Now they’ve been living there for over 15 years, and love to host conscious travellers who value the simple joys of living in the mountains.
The eco-friendly abode of Soumya Mukherji and Indrani Chakraborty, a young couple who’ve resorted to the slow life, Chandaka Homestay is located in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, near Chandka Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary. This one-acre property features five spacious cottages inspired by traditional tribal architecture, and are constructed using local material. Drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and no showers are some of the sustainable ways the hosts take pride in. Perfect for a family getaway, this place is warm and homely with a touch of wilderness.
A family-owned estate that is more than 150 years old, Darang Tea Estate is an hour away from Mcleodganj and 20 minutes from Palampur. Although the region is well known for its tea estates, it still remains largely unexplored as compared to its contemporaries in Himachal. All the more reason to call this 70-acre estate with four cosy cottages facing the snow-capped Dhauladhar range to call home for a few days.
Tucked in the quaint village of Parra, this Goan retreat shows you an unpopular side of the world-famous destination. One that is characterised by the chime of church bells, breezy paddy fields, home-cooked Goan food, and hundreds of years of heritage. For your next Goa holiday, consider this vibrant and tranquil space that is lovingly called Andaluzia.
The brainchild of a local interior designer called Farida, this one-of-a-kind villa is surrounded by evergreen trees in a quiet corner of Shillong. Tastefully done up, it has four en suite bedrooms, a cosy living room with a fireplace, a pretty dining area, and a spiralling staircase. It is one of those photogenic houses where each corner doubles up as a photo op. Get here with your friends or family for some quality time.
Situated in the rustic village of Salawas, on the outskirts of Jodhpur, Chhotaram Prajapat’s humble homestay gives you a taste of rural India at its best. Established in 2009, it belongs to a family of weavers that took its legacy of hospitality and service to another level by opening their home to visitors. From staying in mud houses to engaging in local activities, come here to experience a beautiful blend of traditional practices and modernity.
In the backwaters of Alappuzha, Nelpura is the family home of Chackochan and Salimma who see travellers from around the world all through the year. Featuring regional architecture, the house is made up of seasoned timber and is more than 150 years old. The laid-back vibe of its naturally blessed location and the enthusiasm of the generous hosts are something to vouch for.
If you want to know what it must feel like living in the middle of nowhere, here’s a solid chance. Spiti Sojourn, at the edge of Pangmo village in Spiti, is a campsite, a dhaba, and a homestay. But more than anything else, it is home to a local family that loves to smile in everything it does.
Nestled in an idyllic spot along the Konkan belt, near Ratnagiri, Atithi Parinay is a sprawling pet-friendly homestay. Ideal for a break from Mumbai and Pune, it offers an ethnic stay with modern facilities. Staying here comes with a choice of tents, and cottages, and rooms–all tastefully done up. You’ll be surrounded by two acres of lush green fields. The food here, cooked in traditional Konkansta Brahman style, comes highly recommended by visitors.
This has to be the most eclectic option on the list. Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat is nestled at the foot of the Maikal Hills, in district Kabirdham, a three-hour drive from the modern city of Raipur. It comes with five rooms, all opening onto shady verandas that surround a central courtyard. The host, Sunny Upadhyay, was born in nearby Kawardha, who fulfilled his dream of building a rural homestay in the temple village of Bhoramdeo back in 2003.