Before I put in my experience (a change of thought that got more pronounced in the Diu to Devpur journey, here’s a quick list of what will (and is) make homestays a trend?
- More of an experiential travel. Culture, food, people, there’s no better way of knowing it other than living under the same roof.
- You get the locals’ insights and a window that opens into the life of a new place.
- Friendly, decent folks compared to most of the hotels.
- Much safer than couchsurfing (at least for women), for most of the homestays are listed properties and you can do a whole lot of research while picking one.
- You get an offbeat itinerary like nobody else, for the homestay folks are the “experts” of the region.
- Opens up a whole lot of other opportunities, like volunteering, which you usually wouldn’t get to know of.
- Considerably cuts down on the stay expenses.
- Homestays make you feel safe (and are safe), for there is usually a family living alongside.
Homestays are a concept that’s slowly but steadily gaining acceptance in India.
While couchsurfing hasn’t clearly worked in my favour, owing to a ridiculous lot of message coming to my inbox (stuff that I would not like mentioning here), I had my share of apprehensions about homestays too. Though my viewpoint saw some change over the years, more than some word of thanks go to the homestay at Devpur (one of the best places to stay at Kutch).
Just before Devpur, I had one of those sleepless, troublesome nights at Diu when a horrendous, noisy birthday party was hosted inside the hotel. Calling up the hotel manager resulted in, “I’m not in the hotel. You should talk to the staff.. (For me, he, too, was staff)” response.
In the meanwhile, somebody with a drunk laughter had already knocked (banged) the door twice at around midnight. Knowing that the staff there was good for nothing, I had the Diu cops’ phone number on speed dial and the door doubly bolted. In spite of doing all that, my sleep was off and away.
Thus, already hassled with a horrible experience, I landed at Devpur. Around 5 in the morning, I was trying to make a bus driver understand the address. He nodded and assured of knowing the exact place. A cold and a very rickety bus ride later, I got off at a place that had Devpur behind by some 20 minutes.
Nearby, two village folks had a little bonfire, which I happily shared.
Standing in the middle of nowhere (it actually was Nakhatrana that got some good recognition in the recent release Ram Leela, though I realised it late!) in cold that seemed bent on creeping into my very bones, the best part of my journey started. This was how my fascination with Devpur Homestay started.
Mr Krutarthsinh Jadeja, who runs the place, sent a car to pick me up within 20 minutes. Tired and sleep deprived, I perked up when I saw the heriatge haveli-like structure that was the homestay (here’s the tariff card for Devpur Homestay)! An alluring calm was spread there. With a welcome that included an arti thal and flowers, I knew I was in for a good time.
Mr Krutarthsinh, his family, and everyone around are some of the most decent folks I’ve met in all my travels. The room had everything that would make you feel like home, the food was fresh and tasted like home too (unlike the too greasy and too formal hotel one). While the place has an history that I would want you to find out (I know it and it’s quite fascinating!), it was the people who made it so.
It felt like a home away from home, with school kids loitering around and other travellers happily lazing in the Sun. Christmas lights on the trees in the courtyard made the place come alive in the evening, as I sat there enjoying a cup of chai and listening to the evening arti.
I loved the mealtimes (even though I have always liked having food outside or in the hotel room itself!), with hilarious anecdotes coming in from someone or the other at the table. For this one time, I did not mind sharing the same table. And yes, I think I’m going back for some volunteer teaching at the school that’s housed inside the homestay 🙂
(This article is solely based on my experience; it is by no means a recommendation or direct/indirect promotion).
A request – If you agree with what I have written and know of a homestay based on your experience anywhere in India, do mention it in the comments section. Your effort will help me in maintaining a more comprehensive listing of such places. Many thanks.