What is a homestay?
To many, a homestay is just cheaper vacation accommodation. Not so. Initially, homestay was a term used mostly in association with students and NGOs who would travel to foreign countries, and use the accommodation provided by a local, usually in his own house. The host would accommodate the visitor in his own home - hence the word homestay - and the visitor would be for the duration of his stay there be almost a member of the host's family. He would participate in many of the normal household activities of the family, while attending to his studies or other activities for which he came. The benefit of the homestay plan, apart from way cheaper accommodation during the vacation, was for the tourist / student to get a chance to study lives of the locals at close quarters and actually particpate in it - something which is difficult if you are going on a chartered trip to some remote country.
Homestays in Kerala and the rest of India
Homestays, at least organized properly, was not too common in India, and it came to Kerala even later. Homestays started officially only a couple of years back - in 2001-2002, when the tourism department of Kerala officially announced the start of the program, even offering its own recommendations / certifications to homestay houses if they met certain standards. The programs seems to be a success - part of the reason is that tourism in Kerala is geared to the elite tourist with sophisticated tastes - which means no partying, discos, drug scenes - but an interest in the social and cultural heritage of Kerala and its great scenery.
In the case of Kerala, a homestay works perfectly in certain circumstances. Like, for example, if you are a tourist who is interested in understanding Kerala deeply, but would not like to spend the heavy stuff at hotels and to tour operators, then a homestay is worthwhile. Kerala is one of India's most successful states when it comes to tourism, and the homestay program seems to caught on like wildfire there. Quite understandable when you consider that for all its natual resources and beauty, employment opportunities in kerala are quite limited, and suddenly anyone who needs to make both ends meet and has his own lad and traditional house suddenly has a chance to make it in the burgeoning tourism industry there.
Of course, everyone just cannot be a homestay guest. In normal ciscumstances, a homestay would involve interacting closely with the household, and unless you have s serious interesting that, homestay would not be a good idea for you. On the other hand, many of the new homestays that have come up in Kerala and the rest of India are practically hotels disguised as homestays. In such places, not only are you forced to take part in activities which you may not want to - but at the same time, you have the freedom to if you feel like it. Also, the homestays in Kerala are hardly run by poor villagers pr tribals but by the traditional middle class - and they are usually not restricted in matters or clothing or diet - which can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Here we have chosen our list of top homestay vacations available in
1. Homestay in Tharavadu Heritage Home
This is a decent resort, but still maintaining its heritage looks and architecture. There are a total of five bedrooms, 2 with air-conditioning - a must in hot and humid Kerala (when its not raining cats and dogs, that is). There are swan, duck and fish frams, as well as the host can arrange houseboats and motorboats for you to travel the backwaters around the place. The Tharavadu Heritage (Tharavadu means ancestral home) is located in Kumarakom, the place where the last Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari vajpayee vacationed once. Overall, Kumarakom is a pretty scenic place, you can just while away your time to the lapping waves reading a book, go out and visit the local village-folk, go cruising around Kumarakom in anything from a small row-boat to a houseboat. Or visit the nearby bord-sanctuary do do some bird-watchhing. All in all, a great spot for a homestay vacation.
Between November and March is the perfect time for birdwatcing when the migratory birds would start landing up. You can contact them at
Homestays Kerala offers several homestay vacation plans around Kerala. You can find their homestay locations in the hills and high-ranges, near wildlife sanctuaries or near lakes or the sea. Choose whichever u want!
vacations - Homestays Kerala
1) Spice Plantation Bungalow, Kottayam in Central Kerala. Kottayam is considered the rubber capital of the world, and where the Catholics and Christians of Kerala are
concentrated in. It is also the most literate district in India.
2) Planter's Bungalow, Vagamon Hills. This is a place where you can stay high in the hills and where the clouds kiss your head. Mists, hot coffee..
3. Heritage Bungalow at Alleppey. Stay in this homestay near the backwaters, surrounded by water, paddy fields... If the water is your scene, this is where you should go.
4. Kochi heritage stay - Kochi is one of the ancient ports of India, and there are backwaters quite closeby. Great for seafood, and once you get away from the main Kochi town, you are back in your island of peace.
5. Homestay at Periyar, Thekkady. This is very close the famous wildlife sanctuary, and you can go trekking or climb a few trees or go boating in the Periyar dam.
The people at www.namasteindiatours.com
can arrange a heritage homestay in the home of a Thakur in rajasthan. In a post in Indiamike, they say that the village has no infrastructure for tourists, though the rooms in which they have flushing toilets. Rajasthan is as far removed from Kerala as you can get. Generelly, village folk are illiterate, and the caste system is still being practiced. People are vegetarians, and so there is no chance of eating anything non-vegetarian. But you get, on the other hand, is a real traditional homestay with all the thrills and hardships attached. This is a real Indian village, unlike the villages in Kerala where everyone is literate and facilities abound. To get to know what most of India is like, the Rajasthan homestay is perfect. Contact them for more details.