Leh, a small city perched in the high mountains of Ladakh needs no introduction. For tourists, the internet is brimming with information about the Land of High Passes from its stunning locations, history, architecture and culture to a largely friendly populace. (Image above of Nyamshan House/Stok Eco Village Homestay)
During the pandemic, the region has become home to tourists looking for a sea of calm in these cool climes and escaping their daily mundane existence in the cities marked by intense noise, heat and pollution. Whilst you are in this stunning paradise, a homestay gives you the chance to unwind and explore the beauty of the place in all its authenticity.
Here is a list of the eight recommended homestays in Leh district, Ladakh, for your next expedition.
Nyamshan House/Stok Eco Village Homestay:
Run by Stanzin and Etsuko, a Ladakhi-Japanese couple, this homestay offers visitors the complete eco-friendly experience from the home constructed largely of mud to the Ladakhi-style dry compost toilets. Using 100% organic vegetables and dairy products to prepare the food, tourists are offered a combination of traditional Ladakhi and Japanese food as well. Tourists also have access to a telescope, which they can use to witness Ladakh’s stunning night skies.
Location: Stok village, Spungrul, Leh
Contact: 94198 30945/94192 20676
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 3,500/night
Rabsal House: Although situated in the heart of Leh town, Rabsal House offers discerning travellers a chance to escape the noise, find their peace of mind and enjoy a chance to immerse themselves into the local culture. Marketed largely to solo travellers, women-only groups, couples and small families, Rabsal House is run by Mr Stobdan and his wife. The meals served at Rabsal House are largely based on vegetables grown in their own organic garden.
Location: Lower Changspa, Leh – Ladakh
Contact: 9906979444/9797504004 (Email Address: email@example.com)
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 3,400/night
Himalayan Farmstays by HIAL: An initiative of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL) founded by innovator and educationist Sonam Wangchuk, this location contains a series of farm stays (home+farm) situated in the village of Phyang (approximately 19 km from Leh). Most homes here are attached to a farm, where villagers grow seasonal vegetables while guests participate in the experience. HFS curates activities and experiences around these homestays that allow guests to experience an ‘authentic Ladakhi lifestyle’.
Location: Phyang village, Leh district, Ladakh
Contact: +91-111-222 333 1 (Email- firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 1,320/night
AstroStays: Ladakh is also known for its clear night skies, a dream for astronomy aficionados. Leveraging the region’s starry night skies, the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), a non-profit working in Ladakh, and the International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU OAD), came together to set up a programme called Astronomy for Himalayan Livelihood Creation (AHLC). Astrostays is the first project of the AHLC.
Under this project, tourists engage with rural and remote regions of Ladakh with access to clear night skies and also live in their homestays. The first one was set up in Maan village near the famous Pangong-Tso lake, where you have resident Tsewang Dorje overseeing matters. Members of the community trained in the basics of astronomy and how to operate a telescope and conduct night sky viewing sessions for tourists. Today, there are five operational Astrostays.
Location: House No 1, Village Maan, Pangong Lake, Dist. Changthang, Ladakh-194201
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 4,900/night
SEWA Homestays: Under the Hum Sab Ek (‘We Are One’) initiative jointly run by the Self Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), a non-profit, and the online portal Airbnb, women in the village of Phyang, Ladakh, are being empowered economically by helping them turn into homestay hosts. Thus far, 10 homes in Phyang villages have been listed on the online portal, but the one which has garnered the most attention online is the one hosted by Chery Dolma. Visitors can truly get a flavour of authentic rural Ladakhi life by living in these homestays, while also empowering the local women running these homestays.
Location: Phyang village, Leh district, Ladakh
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 2,000/night
Namra Villa: Hosted by Dosang and Dolma, this homestay is located 5 km away from the Leh airport. It’s a good spot for tourists to just unwind and reclaim a sense of calm with the property surrounded by a variety of different flowers, apricot and apple trees.
Location: Sankar Road, Namra House, Leh-194101
Contact: You can contact the host on Airbnb here.
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 3,300/night
Jade House: Hosted by Tsezin, this boutique homestay boasts of an organic vegetable garden, a mini apple and apricot orchard and a natural spring. They have a farm to table approach to the food served at their property. The homestay also organises curated local experiences such as gastronomic tours and heritage walks.
As one reviewer on Airbnb notes, “A stay at the Jade House is unquestionably a special experience with an exemplary blend of plush accommodation, warm hospitality and good food.”
Location: Spangchenmo, Chubi Road, Leh
Contact: email@example.com or you can WhatsApp them directly here.
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 5,500/night
Himalayan Homestays: In 2003, the Snow Leopard Conservatory-India Trust (SLC-IT) started the pioneering Himalayan Homestay Programme in Rumbak Valley of the Hemis National Park to help villagers offset the financial loss they suffered after losing livestock to snow leopards. So far, the SLC-IT has helped establish over 200 homestays across Sham Valley, Rong Valley and Zanskar. These homestays are in critical snow leopard habitats or along popular trekking routes. Besides engaging with local families, tourists can also explore other facets of these villages.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
Tariff: Upwards of Rs 800/night for 1 person
The beauty of homestays is their ability to personalise your experience thereby giving you a small glimpse of how residents live their lives.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)