Making a case for conscious travel, a number of family-run accommodations across the country introduce tourists to eco-friendly practices and community development.
Travelling is an enriching experience, opening your eyes to new cultures and ways of living. Sustainable tourism is emerging as a major trend around the world, as people come to realise the ecological and social impact of tourism. These 10 sustainable homestays in India show how travellers can contribute in the development and preservation of their favourite destinations.
1. Yangsum Heritage Farm in Sikkim
Imagine waking up in the midst of towering mountains each morning. Located in West Sikkim, Yangsum Heritage Farm promises a magnificent daily view of the Kanchenjunga. The farmhouse, run by Thendup Tashi and his wife Pema, was built in 1833 and remodelled in the 90s. The 44-acre farmhouse abounds in local produce and blossoms. The ambiance and food is unapologetically local—and incorporates seasonal and organic produce as much as possible.
Check out Yangsum Heritage Farm, head to their website.
2. Le Maison de Ananda in Majuli, Assam
This eco-chic property is located in Goromur, a district in the renowned river island of Majuli. Built by a French couple in 2005, La Maison de Ananda sets new standard in conscious hospitality that reflects an appreciation of nature and local cultures. The bamboo cottages on stilts replicate the Mishing community’s traditional houses and the cuisine on offer is a mix of Assam’s various cuisines. You can also hire scooters or bicycles and ride to remote villages and monasteries or undertake a fishing expedition.
Know more about Le Maison de Ananda, Assam on their Facebook page.
3. Pahadi House in Kantal, Uttarakhand
Pahadi House is a labour of love and an open invitation for travellers to experience the Garhwal region at its authentic best. Located in Kanatal as well as Kunaon and Hathipaon, the homestays are essentially restored household of villagers who have moved away to cities. Village walks, hiking, adventure sports, star gazing, organic farming and volunteering are some of the ways to soak in the local culture here. The property offers complimentary Wi-Fi and is pet-friendly too!
For more on Pahadi House, check out its official website.
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4. Chalet Mon Ami in Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu
The lush hills and valleys of the Nilgiris make the destination a popular travel haunt in India. Chalet Mon Ami is located in Kotagiri, one of the three popular hill-stations in the region besides Ooty and Coonoor. The bed-and-breakfast joint offers three rooms and a spectacular view of the tea plantation surrounding the property. Home-cooked meals, a laidback ambiance and the verdant Blue Mountains add to the appeal of this cosy property.
Check out Chalet Mon Ami on its website.
5. Akkarakalam Memoirs in Alappuzha, Kerala
Kerala has witnessed a tourism renaissance in recent years, its Ayurvedic heritage and scenic backwaters drawing travellers from around the world. Akkarakalam Memoirs is located in the popular tourist haunt of Alappuzha, surrounded by coconut trees on a green river bed. Go night fishing or cycle around the villages, indulge in Ayurvedic treatment and live amidst nature in the property that dates back to more than 150 years.
Know more about Akkarakalam Memoirs via its website.
6. Sanjiv’s Aira Holme Retreat in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
A cosy property in old Chotta Shimla, Aira Holme Retreat is a two-room homestay run by Sanjiv and her husband Billy who is an artist and INTACH conservationist. A hit among travellers from around the world, the family property dates back to the British era and has been restored by the owners using locally sourced materials. Sanjiv has planted a variety of flora and fauna around the property, offering a farm-to-fork dining experience as well.
Know more about Aira Holme Retreat on Facebook.
7. Makaibari Tea Estate in Kurseong, West Bengal
The Makaibari tea plantations are among the finest sources of tea in India. As travellers increasingly wish to experience plantations from within, the local workers and volunteers have opened their houses to welcome guests. Traditional dishes arrive from the kitchen, cooked using local produce, and the ambiance is simple and wholly authentic. The profits from the venture are given back to the families for community development initiatives.
For more details on Makaibari Tea Estate, click here
8. The Homestay Taras in Ladakh
A minimal guesthouse, The Homestay Taras is nestled amidst the snowy Himalayan peaks and showcases a different side of Ladakh. The homestay is located near the new convent for elderly nuns in Nyerma and offers a means of livelihood for the nuns. It encourages guests to participate in the daily activities of the property and imbibe the nuances of Ladakhi culture from the gracious hosts.
Check out The Homestay Taras on the Ladakh Nuns website.
9. Arco Iris Boutique Homestay in Curtorim, Goa
A few years ago, Bennita and Ganesh left behind the hustle-bustle of city life with their children to settle in Goa. The family turned a crumbling Portuguese mansion into a quaint homestay filled with plants, pets and laughter. With the family living next door, expect a sense of being in a second home. Bennita and Ganesh are also helpful in suggesting unique experiences for guests and helping them with transport and itineraries.
Know more about Arco Iris on the property’s website.
10. Apani Dhani Eco-Lodge in Nawalgarh, Rajasthan
This family-run guesthouse in the Shekhawati region shows a different side of Rajasthan, away from the decadence of palaces and heritage homes. The property is inspired by local architecture and incorporates natural resources, and the vegetarian food served is sourced locally and from the guesthouse’s garden. The Apani Dhani team encourages guests to engage with the local people and also donates a part of its profits for community development.
Check out Apani Dhani via its official website.