Igniting Ideas For impact

Embarking on a transformative journey through six chapters, we traverse India's landscape, exploring pioneering startups and their revolutionary...

10 months

‘Just Slow Down’: Couple Quit City Life to Build Bamboo Homestay Surrounded by Nature

Situated in Kalimpong, West Bengal, Kabir Pradhan and Ahana Gurung's homestay is made of mud and bamboo. It's an ode to the couple's love for their hometown and commitment to sustainable living.

‘Just Slow Down’: Couple Quit City Life to Build Bamboo Homestay Surrounded by Nature

The sound of crickets chirping, the sun peeking through the dense foliage, and the distant mooing of cows in the nearby farmland create a serene backdrop as you sit on the porch of a mud house. Doesn’t that all sound like a dreamy break from the harsh city noises?

For most of my childhood, this picture-perfect dream was my life during the summer vacations. With my tummy full of delicious meals, I would simply enjoy spending my time exploring the farms near my grandma’s home with my little brother.

While all of this might sound like a far-fetched idea to you, there is a quaint home nestled in the sleepy town of Kalimpong that promises all this and more.

“Palighar is steeped in tradition and authentic rustic life. It is a two bedroom homestay where we try to connect our guests with the local culture, food, flora and fauna,” Ahana Gurung, the co-founder of Palighar Homestay tells The Better India.  

Returning to the roots

Born and raised in Kalimpong, West Bengal, the couple running the homestay, Ahana and Kabir Pradhan, were childhood friends. “We moved to different cities for our education and job but we longed for our home. That longing brought us back,” shares Kabir. 

Ahana shares how in the small hill station, with fewer work opportunities, “most of the talent moves out.” 

“Working outside is a common trend and the people from our generation never really come back home. Kabir and I always had this idea, that we would come home and do something that would employ more local people,” she shares. 

For Kabir, who worked in the hospitality industry, starting a homestay seemed like a natural path. 

Kabir and Ahana moved back to Kalimpong to build homestay of their dreams.
Kabir and Ahana moved back to Kalimpong to build homestay of their dreams.

“We had a lot of ancestral land and farms that I utilised to make a farm stay and give people a peek into the culture here,” he says. 

Moving from the city to his homeland was a decision of a lifetime. Kabir took the leap in 2016, quit his job and moved. 

His move was soon followed by Ahana in 2020. “We were fortunate enough to have ancestral land in a great location to begin with. While Kabir worked on building the property, I worked remotely to market the property before finally moving back,” says Ahana. 

In 2018, Palighar opened its gates to its first guests. Since then, the homestay has hosted over 500 happy guests. 

Steeped in tradition and sustainability 

Palighar is the kind of homestay that smells of customs and traditions with a mix of luxury and nature.

“One thing that we wanted to make sure that the homestay gives the guests is an authentic escape from their city lives,” says Ahana. 

Kabir shares that growing up, he noticed how the houses in the area were being modernised. “The old-school mud homes with sloping bamboo roofs, which were the essence of the area, were all gone. In losing our traditional architecture, I felt like I was losing the customs and traditions too,” he says. 

Wanting to preserve the traditional culture, he decided to use a traditional technique called Irka to make the home. “Essentially, what the technique involves is using bamboo, wood and mud to make the home. The mud, mixed with dung and straw, is plastered on a wooden frame woven with bamboo,” he explains. 

Additionally, Kabir explains, “We also made mud bricks which are baked in the sun. We used the land from our own property which helped us reduce our carbon footprint. We were really conscious of the impact we have on the nature around us.” 

Additionally, Ahana also points out that another reason to use mud is that it is a natural coolant. “While the temperatures in these areas have typically been low, we are seeing hotter days now. We wanted to use a method that keeps the house cool naturally which is why we used mud,” she says. 

The place is a short walk away from a riverside where you can enjoy picnic with your family.
The place is a short walk away from a riverside where you can enjoy picnic with your family.

The homestay currently has two ensuite rooms and a common dining area. The property is located on 3.5 acres of paddy and maize fields. It offers scenic outdoors with a glimpse into the mountain farm life. 

“We have multiple lawns for you to take walks in and a gazebo-style seating area where you can sip delicious Darjeeling tea,” says Kabir. 

Besides being made with natural materials, the homestay also follows an eco-friendly philosophy.

“We minimise the use of practice. We encourage our guests not to bring their own water as we provide them with filtered water over bottled water. We also compost all our kitchen waste and leaves. This compost eventually goes back to our fields,” says Kabir. 

He also shows the process of mulching and composting to the guests to encourage them to pick up the practice.

The place is also a haven for bird watchers and nature lovers. “In the last seven years, we have tried to make a habitat for butterflies, insects and birds. We see a lot of different insects and birds flocking in the area such as Rent Vented Bulbul, Common Tailorbird, Gray Treepie etc” says Ahana. 

How to spend 48 hours at Palighar

Besides spending your time admiring the traditional cottages, there are a few activities that you can indulge in at the Palighar Homestay. 

Ahana, the brains behind the activities, says, “As a destination, Palighar is outside the town area of Kalimpong. The guests who ideally come and stay with us are looking for a calm vacation and that is what we try to give them.” 

Once the guests arrive, the couple briefs them about the property and the surroundings. “Once they have settled in, we also give them a list of activities that we do. The guests can walk with us and trek to the villages nearby,” Kabir says. 

“During the trek, we encourage them to interact with the villagers and understand their ways of living. If our guests are interested, we also explain the various aspects of terrace farming with a live demonstration. It’s a common practice in the area,” he adds. 

Additionally, the guests can also go on a longer trek to River Relli, where they can have a small picnic. 

“We also hold cooking classes for the guests who want to cook our traditional dishes. The dishes that are served are all traditional Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese dishes used with ingredients from our farm and the surrounding farms,” shares. 

The homestay is built using bamboo and mud.
The homestay is built using bamboo and mud.

She continues, ”Living in the city and eating pesticide-infused foods made me realise the importance of farm foods. This is why I wanted to ensure that all my guests get a truly farm-to-table experience.”

Hosting hundreds of guests so far, the couple emphasised the growing trend of slow travel. “Initially we only had guests from outside India staying with us. However, we are currently seeing a shift in trend and hosting a lot of people from across the country,” says Kabir. 

If you found our stories insightful, informative, or even just enjoyable, we invite you to consider making a voluntary payment to support the work we do at The Better India. Your contribution helps us continue producing quality content that educates, inspires, and drives positive change.

Choose one of the payment options below for your contribution-

By paying for the stories you value, you directly contribute to sustaining our efforts focused on making a difference in the world. Together, let’s ensure that impactful stories continue to be told and shared, enriching lives and communities alike.

Thank you for your support. Here are some frequently asked questions you might find helpful to know why you are contributing?

Support the biggest positivity movement section image Support the biggest positivity movement section image

If you wish to stay at Palighar, book your visit here

(Edited by Padmashree Pande; All pictures credit: Palighar Homestay)

This story made me

  • feel inspired icon
  • more aware icon
  • better informative icon
  • do something icon

Tell Us More



See All