Want to experience local food made by Apatani women and the wooden homes of the Chakesang tribe? A travel storyteller lists four eco-friendly homestays across the Northeast
We began our journey across India in the Northeast and in just two years of travel we’ve been back here twice and covered Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and some parts of Assam. During our journeys, wherever possible, we opt for homestays as they give a better understanding of the tribes and cultures unique to each state. Be it our stay at a caretaker’s house in Riphyim village, in central Nagaland, or the three days we spent with a family at Bam, Arunachal, we’ve met people who have opened up their homes to us and allowed us to foray, if only for a brief moment, into their lives. Here’s our pick of four sustainable homestays that offer you a glimpse into the way of life among local tribes in the region.
Chada Homestay, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Chada Homestay was our first in the region, and among our favourites. Run by Punyo and his wonderful wife Kaka, the house is located in Ziro, made famous for the Apatani women with intricately tattooed faces and the well-known Ziro festival of music.
Chedda Home, Ziro
Chedda Home, Ziro | Photo Credit: Hoshner Reporter
The beautiful Chada home is set amidst their vegetable garden and bamboo forest and built in the traditional Apatani style, where the kitchen is the centre of activity. Kaka plies you with delicious food, including her famous bamboo chicken, while the chatty Punyo is happy to feed your curiosity. The food is local, most of which comes from their gardens, including the famous bhut jolokia chilli, white pumpkin, tomatoes, beans and herbs.
Ziro is a four-hour car journey from Itanagar. A night’s stay: ₹2,400 for two, including breakfast and dinner. To make a booking, call 09436047891
Konyak Tea Retreat, Konyak Village, Nagaland
Morning Coffee with a view in Konyak Tea Retreat
Morning Coffee with a view in Konyak Tea Retreat | Photo Credit: Hoshner Reporter
The Konyak region is famous for the tattooed head hunters, a practice which was slowly phased out in the early half of the 20th century. Today a few men remain of a dying generation, but the best way to understand their traditions and the unique tattoo art is to spend a few days with Phejin Konyak, who is deeply involved in her community and the conservation of its traditions, at her beautiful Tea Retreat. Set atop rolling tea hills, not a common sight in Nagaland, Phejin’s home is warm and inviting, full of wonderful smells of Naga food cooking slowly in pots that hang over a wood fire and stories of her chronicles across her land.
The Konyak Tea Retreat is located in the Shiyong village of Mon district in north Nagaland and is a five to six-hour drive from Dibrugarh airport in Assam. One night’s stay: ₹5,000 for two with all meals. For details, call +91 1234567890
Homestay in Phusachodu village, Nagaland
View of Phusachodu from the Village church
View of Phusachodu from the Village church | Photo Credit: Hoshner Reporter
Naga villages outside the main cities remain largely unchanged even today. We spent a few days in Phusachodu, in the warm and welcoming home of the Rohu family, members of the Chakesang tribe. Their traditionally built wooden home has the distinctive cross beams in front, a sign that the senior male member had thrown the village a feast for his wedding. The food is seasonal and any unused produce is fed to the cattle or made into manure.
Phusachodu village is about three hours from Kohima. A night’s stay: ₹1,000 (plus meals). Book through Explore Nagaland or India Trail.
Mawlongbna Travellers Nest, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya
Mawlongbna | Photo Credit: Hoshner Reporter
Nestled in the Protected Community Forest, this is the perfect getaway for a few days of activity and adventure. The simple yet comfortable log cabins offer a number of different activities including cannoning, trekking and hunting for fossils endemic to this region. We spent a few days exploring the many secrets and legends of the closely guarded forest and eating delicious Khasi food.
The Mawlongbna Travellers nest is located in Lawbah village, about 75 kms from Shillong. One night’s stay: ₹2,400 for two. Details: facebook.com/mawlyngbnaecotourism
Writer Ambika Vishwanath and photographer Hoshner Reporter are the team behind The reDiscovery Project, who travel around India attempting to uncover the country’s many stories and secrets. For details, visit their blog: www.rediscoveryproject.com