On the occasion of International Women’s Day, ‘Homestays of India’ (HOI) feels proud to share inspiring stories of some of its Successful Women Hosts. Through their work, they have not only made a difference in their lifestyle but also have changed the meaning of hospitality with their caring nature, eye to detail and cooking skills. These women followed their dreams in spite of all the odds and have made a mark in the society.
“Opening my house to strangers was a brave move especially when it’s just I and my mother-in-law who stay at home. I trusted my instincts and today I am very happy.”
A soldier’s proud wife and a shy lady who lives with her mother-in-law in a small Ladakhi village Spangmik near Pangong Lake at an altitude of 14000 ft. 11 year back there used to be only 6 houses in Spangmik. People used to camp in harsh condition and she provided food to them. With inspiration of an avid trekker, she opened her doors to travelers.
The biggest challenge was to arrange daily usage items from the nearest town Leh which at 160 km. But she was determined to get good education to her children and Homestay could be a great source of income. Vinod Verma, co-founder ‘Homestays of India’ met her about the same time and advised her to take local taxi driver’s help who used to bring tourist from Leh and offer him free stay in bargain to bring grocery, and it worked. Till date she is working on the same policy. It was a brave move as she lived with her small kids and mother-in-law only. She worked hard for years and now her dream is fulfilled. Her children study in Leh in good schools and she has a pucca home with a capacity of 12-15 people to get then higher education.
She strongly believes in and supports sustainable tourism and educates travelers coming to her Homestay near Pangong, to keep the lake and surroundings clean. She also organizes cleaning drives from time to time in coordination with her guests.
“Thanks to the concept of homestays, our village kids do not have to go to the city in search of work leaving behind their parents and beautiful homes close to nature”
Beena, a simple mountain lady from Kumaon region of Uttarakhand got married in a farmer’s family of village Sunkiya, Mukteshwar. She perfectly played the roles of a good wife, mother and daughter-in-law. But something was missing in her life. Her days were just going by without a purpose. That’s when she met HOI founders and was suggested to start the homestay. It’s been 2 years now, she is running her homestay successfully. Beena starts her day at 5 in the morning, tending to cattle, working in farms and ends it with serving an wholesome meal to the family and guests. Guests from all around the world relish the food she cooks.
Starting her Homestay in Sunkiya Village near Mukteshwar has exposed her to people from different parts of the world. It has also instilled in her the confidence and satisfaction of helping people make pleasant memories. In the process she has learnt a lot and is now Pradhan of her village as well. Coming from a humble background, she is now living life of her dreams.
“I feel inner happiness when guests appreciate my hospitality”
Shova is a simple lady from an orthodox Brahmin family of Himachal Pradesh. She started Naddi homestay in 2018 with an aim to raise funds for her NGO that provides quality education to the primary children in rural areas of Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh and also to be independent financially. When guests appreciate her hospitality she feels pleasure & inner happiness. Food that she serves comes from her home Kitchen cooked on Mud Stove with fire wood,
Today she is a happy independent lady who makes all her decisions herself. And she is also supporting the NGO.
“They need a home away from home and I am here to provide that.”
Mayborn aunty, as she is lovingly addressed, is a well-traveled multi-talented lady. She lives in the heart of Shillong city with her retired husband and daughter. In the same compound is her ancestral home – a beautifully built old colonial house. She has a special attachment to this house that is built by British tea planters in 1942 and was bought by her family in 1961. She rented it so that it stays under care of someone but the tenets did not take good care of it. So she decided to convert it into a homestay. This way she will be able to take care of the property herself and also will get some extra income for its maintenance.
She is hosting guests since 2014 and is thoroughly enjoying being a host. “They need a home away from home and I am here to provide that” she says. She does extra efforts to make experience of every guest a special one. Things like calling the guest in advance to know their food preferences and fixing the menu accordingly, spending time with guests and helping them plan their trip. Her caring nature and eye to detail makes her one the best HOI hosts.
“The phrase “less is the new more” can be best used to highlight the impact the homestay has on my thought process, lifestyle and quality of my life.”
Born and brought up in Ramnagar, Roopsi worked with a travel firm and always had an inclination to set up her own venture in the travel industry. She started Pawalgarh homestay in 2016 with an idea of community living while promoting healthy lifestyle choices and helping people connect with nature. The major challenge was to convince her family about this decision of leaving a secure 6 digit salary job and venture into the unknown. Also post setting up the homestay, the challenge was to stay true to the core idea without compromising on the financial viability. But her determination helped her reach where she is today.
Being a host has been an enriching experience. The sheer level of satisfaction she gets from the fact that she is contributing in creating an awareness about sustaining the surroundings we have.
“There is so much of learning and sharing when you have interactions with people from all walks of life.”
Shalini is a yoga mentor and lives in a joint family in Jaipur. Meeting people and making new friends would always make her happy so she thought of starting a homestay in 2016. The idea of opening the home to outsiders was not welcomed by her Father-in-law. But she was able to convince him, somehow.
Today she is running her homestay successfully and all her family members help her run the show. It’s not just her hospitality but also her knowledge in Yoga that makes a difference. Hers is the one of most popular homestays and is favorite amongst people visiting Jaipur.
“I feel proud to be able to create livelihood and generate employment within the valley.”
Indira Bharti lives with her family in traditional Himachali house made of wood and stone in Tirthan valley. After ‘The Great Himalayan Park’ was declared as World Heritage Site, tourism in the area increased. Looking at the demand of the hour, she along with her family decided to develop the house as a homestay. Being a traditional Himachali family she felt it as a great opportunity to showcase the Himachali culture to travelers from around the world. Also it will give a good exposure to her and the family. The main challenge was to get the funds for upgrading their home (like attached toilets) to cater to the needs of travelers and promoting it online.
In just 2 yrs not only has she been able to get her homestay recognized as one of the best homestays in maintaining tradition and culture but she has also generated good employment for the local youth. Engaging with new set of people every time they have guests, getting to know about their work, culture, lifestyle etc. have taught her a lot. She is happy that she has grown and developed a lot in the process.
“I believe it’s not only its landscape and architectural beauty but also its art, culture and food habits that makes a place interesting.”
Mechanical Engineer by qualification and Interior Designer by profession, Farida started her homestay in 2016. She likes to interact with people and that is one reason why she decided to open up her home to tourists and adventure travelers from all over the world. She is passionate about Khasi culture and hence want people to experience a stay in Khasi home, learn about their food and culture.
The biggest challenge in running a homestay, she feels, is that most Indian travelers are not familiar with the Homestay concept and expect facilities like intercom, room service and a restaurant with food available anytime. But now it’s changing. People are understanding the concept of homestays. Just in 2 years hers is one of the most sought after homestays in Shillong.
“My dream is to create a small heaven in mountains where people can come and stay in harmony with nature”
Vlatka, a Pharmacist from Croatia came and fell in love with India and its people, got married to Pankaj and decided to live here forever. Her dream was to create a small heaven in mountains where she can stay in harmony with nature and share, learn and spread her knowledge with others.
So she, along with Pankaj, started an organic farm in a small village Raila in Uttarakhand in 2011. It was a totally abandoned land tucked away in cheer forest. They worked day and night to develop this wild land into an organic farm. They planted fruit trees, harvested crops, created a garden and made it a dreamland for nature lovers.The place is now full of flowers, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
She has now opened up her space – a 100 year old traditional mud and stone house, to people as well. All the meals are prepared from produce that comes from the organic farm.
She is now living a life of her dreams!.
“Within a span of 3 years, I not only have friends from different parts of India but I have friends from Germany and US too.”
A Textile Designer and an artist, Viju Naidu likes meeting people. Her homestay in Indore is a combination of art & nature and she was confident people would like to come and relax at her place so she started the homestay in 2016. Training by MP tourism helped her set up the homestay and sites like Homestays of India and Airbnb are helping her get regular inflow of guests. The income that she earns from homestay goes back into upgrading the quality of her home.
Meeting people from varied backgrounds and knowing about their life has changed her outlook towards life. She is happy that today she is never alone. She has guests coming from all over the world and some of them are now friends for life.
“It has created employment opportunities for our neighboring people.”
A fashion designer by profession, Deepika chose to stay at home and take care of the family after marriage. She has a beautiful home in Rangri near Manali, so she along with her mother-in-law Reshma, decided to start a homestay. Her mother in law has very good knowledge of local cuisine, spices, and pickles. And she herself is a very good cook. So with an idea of hosting people at their place came as a welcome decision. The homestay near Manali has increased the earning as well as has given employment to the neighboring people.