There are not too many ways to experience a time gone by –– yes, museums and digital archives are a wonderful resource, but they may lack the ability to truly transport you to a place and time where the culture differed from the current one and so did their homes.
Living in a home from the past –– from the colonial times –– makes for a rather immersive and wholesome way to experience history. It is sort of like combining a much-needed vacation with an opportunity to imbibe aspects of a bygone era. With an experience that varies from the luxurious 5-star hotels, staying at colonial homestays not only gives you a new perspective on holidays, but also several little anecdotes to take you back.
Across India, there are many colonial homes that now function in the capacity of homestays and welcome guests like you and I to be part of their journey. So, if you’re up for some history-filled, culture-bound homestay experience, we’ve got a few suggestions for you!
I. Lymond House, Ooty
Next time you plan to visit the ‘Queen Of Hill Stations’, skip the choice of a hotel, and head to this 150-year-old colonial heritage homestay. This 19th-century bungalow is owned by the Junaid Sait family, a prominent name among traders.
The Victorian decor is evident in the four-poster beds and the intricacies of the interior woodwork. The sprawling greens can be accessed by the rooms, and also give guests the opportunity to soak in the slow pace. It is also located at a convenient distance of 2.2 kilometres from the airport and 1.3 kilometres from the railway station.
Learn more about Lymond House here.
II. La Villa Bethany, Mussoorie
Sunita and Amarjeet quit their city jobs to transform a 100-year-old property in the sleepy hills of Mussoorie into a picturesque homestay for tourists. What once was a dilapidated 100-year-old, colonial cottage facing the majestic hills, retains the untouched charms of the 150-year-old building while actively incorporating modern, sustainable practices.
They also partake in rainwater harvesting and organic farming practices at La Villa Bethany.
Find out more about this colonial homestay here.
III. The Retreat, Bhimtal
The Retreat was once a tea estate and is now a wonderfully maintained home from colonial times. Bought by Frederick Smetacek Sr, Major General Madan Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana, and the Rani of Balrampur, the home was originally meant to host diplomats.
The home is traditional in all its sense and Bhimtal makes for the perfect setting.
Find out more about The Retreat here.
IV. Villa Saudade, Goa
This villa is 400-years-old and once belonged to historian Vasco Pinho. Standing since the Portuguese rule, it has lived through the colonial era, too. The house received a makeover from architect Rochelle Santimano who ensured the integration of local resources in the home, with most of the upholstery coming from the local Goan markets. The artwork all over the house also comes from Goan artists.
Now a trademark aqua-blue, the bungalow stands tall and proud as a wondrous homestay.
Find out more about Villa Saudade here.
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