Although a bit slowly, but the home-stay culture is spreading in India. The newer generation is more into exploration and walking down the unconventional track. Place of stay influences your take-away from a trip. Staying with a local family instead of a commercial hotel is a unique experience. In a home-stay, you are not only privileged with emotional hospitality but also the daily chores of locals. Rather than money making, bonding is the basic theme of home-stays. Hygienic local delicacies are an added advantage. It’s like having a family away from family.
Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh is a land of Apatani tribe. There is a NGO called Ngunu Ziro which manages home-stays in Ziro. At present, five families have offered their homes for home-stays. There are a few hotels too but I will strongly recommend everyone to stay at home-stay. Home-stay families can stretch themselves to make us comfortable.
I stayed at Hibu Tatu’s home-stay. I rigged my tent in there lawn while my colleagues stayed in the rooms. We cooked with them in their kitchen. For the first time, I saw how chicken is cooked in bamboo shells. The lady there was excited to learn the recipe of Matar Paneer. Extra arrangements such as vehicle, local guide, bon-fire, tribal dance show etc. were organized by Mr. Tatu. They even offered us locally brewed home-made rice beer.
Interactive sessions with this home-stay family made us aware of some fascinating facts. For example the tribal women in Ziro used to be very very beautiful (they still are..: P) which made them vulnerable. So their faces were tattooed for their safety. They discussed about problems they were facing in running a NGO.
Tips for the Travelers: -
1. There are rain forests in Ziro. If you are planning for a trek, make sure you carry leech protection gears like gum boots, hat, leech guard and salt.
2. Try to plan your trip in monsoon. Although there is a little chance of road blockage due to landslides, but you will witness numerous natural waterfalls.
3. In the month of September every year, Ziro festival of music (ZFM) is held here which is an international festival and attracts a lot of like minded people. Plan your trip accordingly.
4. Fish, butterfly and caterpillar farming is done in Ziro which can be witnessed with locals.
5. There are bastis (small villages) near Ziro which gives an exposure to rural life.
I have uploaded the photographs of visiting cards of the home-stay owners. For any queries or info, you can inbox me at firstname.lastname@example.org