10 Heritage Homestays to Book Right Now - Part I

10 Heritage Homestays to Book Right Now - Part I
The grand interiors of Shri Joravar Vilas Palace, Photo Credit: Shri Joravar Vilas Palace

A beautiful place of stay can make a holiday. We've found some extraordinary, and not-so-well-known, homestays in heritage bungalows and mansions for your next break. Watch out for the second part!

Karan Kaushik
April 18 , 2021
12 Min Read

A boutique hotel is one thing but staying in a heritage property like it was your home is something else. It's a different experience to stay in an old bungalow or palace, surrounded by antique trappings, excellent food, and the company of hosts who have plenty of interesting stories about their rich past. 

Here’s a list of five lesser-known heritage homestays in India, where you can have a truly memorable vacation. 

The Sirmur Heritage Stays 

Nestled in the tranquil hilly environs of Nahan, the Sirmur Palace traces its journey to 1621, when Raja Karam Prakash of Nahan laid its foundation. Over the years, various buildings were added to the complex by different rulers. Today, the palace is being run as a heritage homestay and welcomes writers, birdwatchers, wildlifers, artists and yogis throughout the year. The ancient property provides the perfect atmosphere for a laidback vacation where you can read a book, take pictures of chirping birds and wake up to the sound of swaying trees. The best part, the property has its own forest. Yes, you read that right. You will have a private forest for yourself where you can enjoy a trek or simply stroll around. 

Read: Maharani Gin

 
 
 
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The stained glass windows under opulent arches in the rooms speak volumes about the palace’s princely past. The drawing room here has hosted many important dignitaries. Crystal chandeliers, handmade tiles and imposing artefacts add to the property’s charm. A 400-year-old peepal tree in the palace courtyard has many a story attached to it. The food is excellent here. Ask for patande, a popular breakfast dish which originated in Sirmour. It’s basically a desi version of pancakes and you’d really enjoy it with stewed apples. 

Location: Villa Round, Nahan, Himachal Pradesh. Phone: 09997480170.

Shri Joravar Vilas Palace 

After spending a day or two at the Shri Joravar Vilas Palace, you will be surprised that this gorgeous heritage property is so little heard of. The homestay is a result of painstakingly restoring the rich heritage that the rulers of Santrampur left behind for future generations. The palace was built in 1926 by Saheb Shri Joravar Singh, who was looking for a quaint retreat away from the place where he held court. Today, the palace is being looked after by his great grandson Paranjayaditya and his wife Mandakini, who live here and also welcome tourists who want a taste of royalty. 

Read: Cities Through the Lens of 5 Artists

 
 
 
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A post shared by Shri Joraver Vilas, Santrampur (@shrijoravervilas) on Sep 26, 2019 at 6:30am PDT

The property is surrounded by lush Aravallis and positioned upon a lake. The villa features stunning interiors conforming to the Art Deco era of the 1920s. On offer here are five stunning rooms embellished with classical colonial style antique furniture. Meals are predominantly Gujarati, and served in their impressive kapchi room or the Neem Chawk, a courtyard overlooking the lake. When here, you can explore the small town of Sant and visit the inviting Raj Mahal and Hawa Mahal along with some ancient Hindu temples. 

Location: Santrampur, Dist Mahisagar, Gujarat. Phone: 02675-220009, 09879013118.

Website: royalsantrampur.com

Lotwara Heritage Homestay 

Rajasthan offers ample options for a heritage stay with countless boutique properties, but Lotwara Garh is yet to garner its much-deserved share of fame. Located on the bank of river Banganga, the royal structure was raised by Thakur Ganga Singh in the 17th century and presently serves as the residence of his descendant Thakur Giriraj Singh and his family.

 
 
 
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Read: The Beguiling World of Revenge Travel

It's a fine example of traditional Rajputana architecture with an invincible boundary wall, a porch, lavish rooms built around a courtyard, a kachahri or court, and chhatris. The Prince Room comes with a study desk, a dressing corner, antique furniture. Then there’s the King Room with gorgeous stained glass windows and two interconnected bedrooms. It's big enough to occupy two families comfortably. And finally, there’s the Queen's Room which has many jharokhas to enjoy the fresh air and observe the outside world. Lotwara is famous for its large population of peacocks  who will be your constant companions. From Lotwara Garh, you can visit Abhaneri (11km), famous for the Chand Baoli Stepwell and the spooky town of Bhangarh.(60km).  

Location: Village Post Lotwara Via Manpur, Dist Dausa, Rajasthan Phone: 09929648512, 09460765756, 08178335056.

Website: lotwarafort.com

Itachuna Rajbari

From Rajasthan, let’s move to the royal heritage of Bengal. About an hour’s drive from Kolkata, the Itachuna Rajbari in Hooghly is a perfect heritage homestay for those looking to unwind in a royal setup. Also known as ‘Bargee Danga’, the rajbari has an interesting history. It was built in 1766 by the ancestors of Safallya Narayan Kundu. It is said that the Kundus or Kudans were Maratha warriors who settled in West Bengal and started their own trade here. Today, the heritage property is managed by Basav Narayan Kundu and his family as a heritage homestay, with an aim to boost village tourism. 

 
 
 
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It is divided into five mahallas or portions: a village courthouse, a ballet dancing hall, kitchen house, guest house and an andar mahal for ladies. Rooms at the rajbari are attached to an open garden terrace adorned with antique furnishings and a beautiful fountain. The royal rooms overlook a manicured garden and an open portico. You must not miss out on the splendid sunsets from the pukurpar (pond) here. The authentic Bengali cuisine served here is oustanding. From Luchi with Shaada Alu Tarkari, Dhokar Dalna and Shukto to the sumptuous Kosha Maangsho, the menu represents some of the best of the traditional Bengal kitchen.

Location: Itachuna Village, Panduah, District Hooghly. Phone: 09674537940, 7003121811.

Website:www.itachunarajbari.com

Email:info@itachunarajbari.com

Varikatt Heritage, Trivandrum

One of the most charming places to stay in Trivandrum, the Varikatt Heritage homestay lies in the heart of the city at kissing distance from all major sites. The over 150-year old Indo-Sarcenic style villa has been beautifully restored and will take you back to the days of the Raj era. behind it is a beautiful love story of a British lady and an English tea planter based in Munnar. It is said that somewhere around the 1850s, one Ms Blanket sailed to India on a voyage to look for the tea planter she had fallen head-over-heels with. She built herself a palatial bungalow in Trivandrum, the capital of the erstwhile Travancore state. 

 
 
 
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Read: 10 Heritage Homestays To Book Right Now- Part II

To her surprise, one fine morning, she was visited by the tea planter after he came to know about the lady’s love for him through his friends in Trivandrum. When they returned to England, the bungalow was occupied by legal luminary advocate P Abraham who named it after his family. The villa also served as an important meeting point of politicians during India’s freedom struggle. Today, it is managed by Col Kuncheria and his wife, who are members of the present generation of the Varikatt family. The house features airy high-ceilinged rooms, tiled roof to beat the tropical heat, spacious verandahs and a kitchen connected to the main house by a covered verandah. While here, you can visit fascinating temples and museums, handicraft shops and zoological gardens located in proximity to the homestay.

Location: Poonnen Road, Trivandrum, Kerala. Phone: +91 4712336057, 09895239055.

Website: https://www.varikattheritage.com/
Email: roy@varikatt.com

The article was first published in August, 2020. 


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