Lately, I have been catching myself dreaming of a life in the hills with an airy cottage, fresh air, long walks and generally, a slower pace of life. However, reality soon kicks in and I realize that it will remain a dream for a tad bit longer. Recently, I came across an article of a homestay outside Goa and it had me lusting again! I find myself being more and more drawn to the charms of a quaint home stay with locals over a glitzy, comfortable hotel stay. I remember reading somewhere that travel helps one discover experiences but for that one needs to stop trying to recreate comforts of their daily lives and instead succumb to the journey and the destination. I couldn’t agree more!
One of the things we’re trying to achieve with GoPo is to help ‘amateur yet, willing travellers’ like us break out of ‘cookie cutter’ holidays and experience something new and magical without being afraid of the unknown. By the by, did you know we’re launching something new and exciting in June? It’s a way to overcome this fear of the unknown by sharing the experience of someone who has tread that offbeat path before. Hence, in the run-up to our launch, we wanted to focus on emphasizing the importance of experiential travel and conquering FOMO (fear of missing out).
Kick-starting this series, is a round-up of our top five picks for home stays in the North East. Why home stays? Because, they give you an unparalleled experience, help you experience life like a local and ensures you’ll have stories to cherish and share for decades afterwards. On the other end of the spectrum, are the hotels... over a point of time, each room blurs into another and average recall time for each hotel may be at best 3-4 years.
Why North-East? Simple! It has pristine natural beauty that thankfully, hasn’t yet been ruined by tourism.
Hollonghabi Tea Bungalow, Digboi, Assam
Set within lush tea gardens, surrounded by paddy fields, this century old bungalow provides a memorable experience of life on a tea estate. One can enjoy walking through the estate, fishing, cycling and get a first hand view of the tea picking and processing process apart from the sumptuous, home cooked meals lovingly served by the hosts.
Hollonghabi Tea Bungalow. Image Source.
Bo-Ville Homestay, Shillong
A simple, no-frills stay at an old home in Shillong, Bo Ville is an old home that is perfect if you want to spend time undisturbed. The rooms look out onto a well kept garden making it ideal for travellers looking to stay for extended periods of time. While here, do enjoy the home-cooked meals and chat with the owners and other locals to get a flavour of Shillong.
Entrance to the rooms at Bo Ville Homestay. Image Source.
Yangsum Farm, Sikkim
A rustic, old Sikkimese home built in 1833 and re-modelled in 1966. Built with bamboo and wood and set in a 44 acre traditional mountain farm estate, need we say more? One has to drive through groves of Bamboo to reach here. You get the owners’, Thendup & Pema’s warm hospitality, scrumptious local cuisine made using the estate’s organic fruits and vegetables, and access to an open, mixed forest of pine, Himalayan alder, schima, chestnut, magnolia and rhododendrons. Apart from walks around the area, one can also opt for a class to learn Sikkimese cuisine.
Yangsum Heritage Farm. Image Source.
Le Maison De Ananda, Majuli Island
Majuli Islands in the Brahmaputra are India’s largest riverine island groups where the landmass floats. Unfortunately, the ecology of the place is in a precarious position where annual floods have caused a lot of erosion of the land mass leaving it to about a third of its original size. While government efforts to prevent erosion are not yet optimal, the place is slowly catching the eye of tourists who want to experience the life of the local Mishing tribe. Le Maison De Ananda is one of the prominent stay options here. With bamboo huts constructed on stilts, the place has simple, basic facilities making it very popular with solo travellers, experiential travellers and backpackers, alike.
Traditional Mishing Homes at Le Maison De Ananda. Image Source.
Angami Styled Cottages, Touphema, Nagaland
Nagaland is one of the remotest states and least explored states in India. It is also home to sixteen indigenous tribes. Touphema, one of the villages in Nagaland is among the few places where local tribes are practicing community tourism initiatives and use the revenue earned to for village maintenance and development activities. Here, one can stay in traditional cottages. The resort is self funded with each cottage built by a family of the Angami tribe. The village is located on a hilltop overlooking lush forested valleys and canyons that run upto a thousand feet deep.
Angami Cottages, Touphema, Nagaland. Image Source.
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