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Northeast India: Homestays for a taste of local life

By Manasee Joshi 22 October 2020

Header image courtesy of Pulak Bhagawati (via Unsplash)

A scenic land tucked up in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, this untouched piece of heaven has been provoking travellers from far and wide to explore its magnificence. Bestowed with an impeccable diversity of landscape, that boasts rocky terrains, luxuriant green covered mountainsides, tranquil lakes, lush forests with a fantastic array of exotic flora and fauna, and breathtakingly beautiful cascading milky waters, the north eastern region of India is simply surreal to the core and begs travellers around the world to come there and lose themselves in its charismatic magic!

A homestay in this paradisical land can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both homeowners and travellers. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in a culturally rich experience and witness the rural life at its finest. Usually tucked away in the mountains, far from the turbid and constantly bustling cities, life definitely happens at a slow pace here, yet has everything going for it. So, whether you are among those intrepid spirits planning a trek through its lush landscape or simply a curious traveller seeking an unforgettable local experience, these homestay options are ideal for enjoying a fulfilling sojourn in northeast India.

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Nestled amid the mystical mountains, standing high at an elevation of 1500meters near the foot of the Rhododendron Sanctuary, is this refreshing retreat beautifully crafted out of the reclaimed wood from the nearby forests. Imagine yourself waking up to the sprawling views of the Indo-Nepal border, catching sight of the soaring Kanchanjunga peak, and a faint hubbub of the local markets at a distance—Dhungay Homestay ensures that you are in the perfect place to experience all Sikkim has to offer.

And much like any authentic travel experience is incomplete without vibing with the locals, the owner, Mr Kunwar Chhetri, very welcomingly invites you for a guided village walk where you stroll along the picturesque trails, indulge in local activities, give village-style cooking a whirl—all of this while assimilating with nature. There are also community-based excursions that allow you to become familiar with the local traditions and lifestyle. And while you’re busy feeling your life slow down for the better, the Chhatris will brighten up your day even more by dishing out piping hot plates of freshly-made momos and their special wildberry chutney at the end of a fulfilling day.

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By Manasee Joshi 27 August 2020
By Sue King 9 June 2020

Diezephe, Nagaland

Land of the once-fabled head hunters, the warrior community of Naga tribals who fearlessly took on Japanese army during the World War II, and home to 16 major tribes, each having their own language, traditions, and beliefs, there is hardly any match for the kind of diversity this tiny mountainous state of Nagaland offers. Such is the enormity of its cultural and traditional legacy that getting to know one tribal culture would only mean scratching the surface. But as they say, “Everybody has to make a start somewhere.”

Located around 13 kilometers off the Dimapur airport is a quaint creative haven that not only allows tourists to enjoy peaceful scenery but also meet with skilled weavers and artisans. At Diezephe Crafts Village, one can experience authentic village life and get an opportunity to engage and interact with Tenyimei community, the earliest inhabitants of this village, who have been practising the centuries-old art of hand-knotted weaving, intricate woodcarving, pottery, and delicate bamboo and cane works. Diezephe’s owner Ms Sonnie, your free-spirited, gentle, and genial host, will ensure that you get a genuine experience of Nagaland’s natural beauty, rich tradition, and warm hospitality.

The undulating pine-covered hills of Shillong belong to one of the wettest places on earth. Here, the monsoon season lasts longer than anywhere in India, thus making it a proud home to some of the most stunning waterfalls, serene lakes, and a centre for water sports activities. The area also accommodates some of the unexpected, most charmingly remote homestays for those who need a merciless digital detox.

Ever fancied living in a traditional Assamese style architecture with bright and spacious rooms, beautifully furnished wooden floors, bamboo plastered walls with a charm from the colonial era? Aerodene Cottage in Shillong is a 60-year-old fully renovated and restored boutique homestay that combines the old-world charm with modern amenities. A pretty-as-picture patio and a balcony overlooking an acre of lush woods make this cosy cottage home to ultimate solace.

If you’re a nature lover, there’s tremendous nature around to explore. From taking a day trip to the fascinating root bridges of Cherrapunji, exploring many of its mystical caves by foot to taking a stroll along the quaint English countryside-style streets filled with picturesque gardens and fresh country air, be sure that you’re in for a one-of-a-kind experience while you stay here.

Arunachal Pradesh—a veritable treasure house of nature tucked away in the mighty Himalayas so little known that only a few have been named, let alone explored. The beauty of this land will seem delusive with snowy mist, unexplored passes, hidden lakes, and monasteries at some of the remotest places. Yet there’s something inviting about it that makes you want to decide that it’s time we explore this ‘Garden of Eden on Earth.’

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By Apple Mandy 9 October 2020
By Scott Dunn 16 October 2020

When talking about detox, very few things come close to the peace and tranquillity of Arunachal. Reyi Homestay, located in the small hilly town of Aalo, does perfect justice to Arunachal’s captivating beauty by offering its visitors an opportunity live amongst gorgeous sunset views from the rooms, amber coloured orchards, pretty gardens, and panoramas so magnificent that one couldn’t help stepping outside to count the stars at night! These artistic pine-and-bamboo houses with spacious verandas accommodate several elegantly furnished bedrooms for large groups, an open-plan sitting room with wood burning stove for endless frolics, a spacious living area, and a backyard for enjoying sunbeds and barbecue nights.

Enveloped in a massive 44 acres of virgin forests dotted with organic farms of fresh seasonal vegetables and vast clusters of pine, Himalayan alder, chestnut, and magnolia trees is a gem of a homestay named Yangsum Heritage Farm. At this chic rustic getaway, it’s all about mountain-meets-modern interiors and farm-style gourmet meals. Breakfast is delivered straight to your door while three-course scrumptious meals are served in the glass-encased cosy restaurant overlooking the lush fields at the foothills of the Himalaya.

A walk into the lobby of this humble family-run farmhouse will begin with a gentle, soothing, earthy aroma. The Tibetan-style rooms are done up in neutral palettes accented by desert reds, burnt oranges, and touches of blues. And when you are ready to peel your eyes away from the stunning views of Khangchendzonga group of peaks and the skyline of the Singelila Range from your window, you could try your hands at farming, village walks, bird watching, or learning Sikkimese cuisine prepared from fully organic vegetables cultivated in the farm premises.

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Manasee Joshi

Contributor

Manasee is a Hong Kong-based freelance writer by profession and lover of fascinating cultures, lip-smacking cuisines, and a vibrant social life. Having worked as a travel guide all across APAC, Manasee has dug deep into historical fun facts, architectural styles, and the best places to eat and drink in the places she visited. As a travel writer, Manasee aspires to inspire readers to follow in her footsteps. After a long day of work, you can find her binge-watching Netflix shows with a glass of crisp wine.

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