India can be quite overwhelming at first. Not everyone has the advantage of a local friend to hold your hand and show you the ropes. We’ve made up a list of those families who’ve decided to open up their homes to people exactly like you. They’ll provide you a place of shelter and comfort from which to set out each morning, armed with their best advice and priceless hospitality.
Munnar is soaked deeply in the travel styles of a bygone century—the summer convalesence. Families from the harsh, dusty plains would save up and ship out for a month in the hills. There were no more amenities than a roof over their heads and a cup of tea in the mornings. Sometimes entire families gathered together to recoup. Often it was just an elderly couple making full use of their retirement years. Early morning walks and a half packet of biscuits with the morning newspapers. Idly snapping off a tea leaf as you stroll through the waist high rows of bushes. Settling in under a pile of musty blankets for an early night kept us sane through the rest of the chaotic year.
Jade promises you exactly this rebirth. Take a long soak in the beautiful pool and watch your fingers wrinkle up. Pull on a sleeveless cardigan and discover the mountains. Listen to the call of the birds carried in on the fresh cold air. Bicker over breakfast and debate over dinner. Just let go and embrace the strange sense of purpose that infuses the tea plantation life. jademunnar.com
Ditch the beach, there’s a whole other side of this bountiful state to explore. Most notably its intricate network of rivers. Overhung with coconut trees and carpeted in soft sparse grass, they’re blissfully unpopulated by tourists. Set out from Olaulim’s sprawling, hammock-strewn yards with a bellyful of finger-licking local produce and fresh sea-food. Traipse down the meandering village lanes. Come to the family or other travellers for tips or a couple of words in the local language that might help you bag that bargain in the market!
Dr. Samvit Audichya is a man with a cause. Not only does he firmly believe in grassroots movements and working with the rural poor, but he intends to help you understand it too. Pick a room in his family’s beautifully located home away from the touts and tourist traps and get to know his amazingly hospitable family as they explain t you their people and their passions. Request a home-cooked meal on the rooftop, and they’ll be happy to let you join in in the cooking.
Jaipur Friendly Villa, Jaipur
The website of this vast family home is lined with accolades from travel companies and review websites across the country. Luxury and word-class facilities combined with the intimate care of a family make for the perfect trip. Two airy green terraces make for the perfect spot to recuperate with freshly brewed tea and the city of Jaipur laid out before you. All the amenities of a high-end hotel, from WiFi to Air-conditioning, set this place apart from the simple homestays that usually make it onto these lists.
A cushy little BnB run by two friends who’ve spent years in the tourism industry and yoga and reflexology community respectively. Well furnished rooms, simple rules, good food. It’s a good option for those worried about the over-congestion or safety issues of Delhi because it gives you a chance to step into the local life without stepping too far out of your comfort zone. Get to know your hosts, they have some worthwhile knowledge to share, and your trip will be easier for it.
Mr D.K. Burman, the owner of this three story megalith within 15 minutes of the Taj Mahal, is an Agra local and a ‘fountainhead of knowledge’, according to his user reviews. His home features walls decorated with cultural paintings, a chess lounge to butt heads with him at and a lovely terrace garden. The sophisticated website gives you a whole list of facilities from Doctor on call to Children’s Park in the Neighbourhood, though his guests seem most enamoured by the delicious food and great conversation.