Nayana's homestay was a revelation that unpeeled in layers, taking its time, a refuge from the dust and crowd, its warm, cosy interiors clean, eclectic, and fulsome. The home cooked food provided by Borgi da and the excellent breakfast by Maku cushioned our stay at Chhota Kothi, providing comfort food that was light on the stomach.
The itinerary that Nayana di planned for us to the terracotta temples and the zamindari past of Birbhum was an invigorating experience, an eye-opener that we would love to revisit.
The late-night chats, sitting curled up in her cosy drawing room by lamplight was just what my jaded, exhausted mind required. We couldn’t have asked for a better getaway than this to unwind, find our mojo again and rejuvenate.
We felt safe, cared for, and nourished, truly a holiday to remember and yearn for again.
Words fall short to review this beautiful and peaceful abode 'Chota Kuthi; - which we thought is truly a home away from home. The first highlight of our trip has been the ever friendly, charming, generous and fun host of the homestay - Nayana di! A scintillating conversationalist, one who has travelled over 58 countries and comes with myriad experiences, knowledge and illustrious heritage ofcourse - our incessant chats or "adda" with her every evening has left us deeply enriched. We simply loved the way she hosted us for 3 nights, looking meticulously into every details to ensure our stay is seamless and memorable. From guiding us how to reach her home, suggesting quick/offbeat sightseeing spots (whatever is possible in the pandemic - we visited Surul Rajbari and the beautiful terracota temples this time) with the ever dependable Nobi da, the Toto man, unique shopping recommendations, food/eatery choices - in everything her warmth. hospitality and welcoming environment stirred my heart.
The second highlight is ofcourse her elegant home, situated in a beautiful green neighborhood, where a number of antiques and beautiful artefacts from her travels across the world have a story to tell; some breathtaking works of art & historic photographs that adorn the walls of the home. The ample verdant lawn houses a number of interesting plants and trees and with many species of birds - a photographer's delight indeed (my husband was thrilled). The open terraces are great for tea time (with yummy 'Beguni" in the evenings. We loved the airy front and rear verandas of the house which are ideal places to relax and soak in nature in its entirety. My room was spacious, comfortable, aesthetically done and had all the amenities including an inspiring bookshelf.
And it would be a shame if I didnt mention the awesome, delectable food that we had during our stay. Maku di, rustles up delicious meals, her Spanish Omlette for breakfast is legendary now, and we were lucky to have sampled some of her lip-smacking Santhal dishes. We ordered our lunch and dinner from Borgi da, another excellent recommendation from Nayana di - and his food is absolutely extraordinary and came at reasonable prices. In every way it felt like we are at home, unwinding and enjoying to the fullest.
Thanks very much Nayana di! This is a heavenly homestay and a visit to remember forever. We are definitely coming back.
Nayana's Homestay is a great place to stay in Shantiniketan. It is a beautiful property in a good location. Myself and my husband, Abhiroop visited the estate with our 19 months old daughter Abhyalaxmi along with a close friend.
Breakfast and stay both were both delicious and comfortable respectively, thanks to Maku who happens to be Nayana's trusted staff. The room was clean and the property seemed well maintained. One should mention a very important aspect of the property which happens to be its well planned architecture, which allows proper cross ventilation and keeps the rooms comfortable even if one is not using the air conditioning. Food can also be procured from outside and Nayana did recommend some amazing places. Even at the time of writing this review we are still conversing about the kebabs, the thalis and that particular eggplant dish. They were just WOW!
Both my husband and myself had visited Shantiniketan before, but never did we explore it the way how Nayana made us explore. She accompanied us to the historical terracotta temples in the middle of nowhere, the Rajbari ruins and the Ionic columned Durga batis, all of which were not just soul touching but also left both of us speechless. This was across the Shantiniketan & Birbhum region and this must be mentioned that she is also very well acquainted about all the important spots in Bishnupur and Murshidabad. One should at the least stay three days and plan their adjoining trips with her.
P.S- The famous Haat(market) of Shantiniketan is at its grandest in the weekends and it is very close to her estate. If you are not travelling in your own vehicle and even if you are, do avail the services of the Toto Driver Bapon(Toto is a large electric tuk tuk which can more or less comfortably accommodate 4 adults). He is well behaved and is knowledgeable about the history of the local destinations within Shantiniketan.
tl;dr: Lovely property, great location, amazing breakfast & really really helpful and interesting hostess. Just choose this place if you can afford it. It's totally worth it.
We stayed here in the third weekend of Aug2021. Since I didn't book the place myself, I wasn't sure what to expect beforehand. But as soon as I got off the Toto (thoughtfully arranged by Nayana Di) and took one look at the house and the grounds, I got my breath taken completely away!
"Beautiful" doesn't really do the place justice. It's a two-storey house sitting in an island of lush greenery. The grounds are strewn with huge trees. Mango, Coconut, Batabi-lebu (pomelo according to the internet), Taal (Palm) are the few that I could recognize but I'm sure, actual, literate folks will be able to name a lot of the rest. I especially loved this makeshift bench made out of tree-logs in the garden. And there was this one tree that's just adjoining the house that was lit up by fireflies in the evening and managed to look quite enchanting.
The house itself is beyond impressive. Nayana-Di goes for a maximalist decor and the place is filled with little nick-knacks that she has accumulated in her extensive travels. To paraphrase her: "It's not about what one uses to decorate but how one manages with the stuff one has." And there's furniture that's almost a hundred years old! The walls of our room had this rustic look which I really loved. There's a nice terrace on the first floor where one can hang out and chill as the sun goes down.
Maku who stays on the property made us delicious breakfasts everyday. Do NOT forget to check out her spanish omelette! For other meals, there's a place close by that will send you delicious, home-like food at very reasonable rates. Speaking of reasonable, get the contact of the Toto person Bapon from Nayana-Di and go sight seeing with him. He's punctual, well mannered, well informed, helpful and his rates are quite reasonable.
I have to mention Ronnie, who's the in-house pet and is one of the most friendly and cool dogs I've had the pleasure to meet.
I've saved the most important bit for the last: Nayana-Di herself. She's an amazing hostess. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience and can keep you enthralled with tales of her travels, history of Calcutta and indeed on any subject that you'd like. She's also very helpful. Arranging for an interesting and varied breakfast everyday, making sure we have arranged the rest of our meals, advising us on places to visit and at the same time giving us enough space - she did it all and enabled a perfect vacation for us.
Thank you so much Nayana-Di & we'd love to visit again the next time we're there. Although, this time, I think we'll visit in the winter and try to stay longer than 3 days.
PS: She actually packed "Taal-er bora" & a "batabi-lebu" for us while we were leaving!
Absolutely elegant and gorgeous.
We just returned from a delightful stay with Nayana and Maku at Nayana's Homestay. In the heart of Shantiniketan, a 3-minutes from Shonajuri'r haat - this is where you should be.
It is actually difficult to describe Nayana's home (and not a house) in a few words - but if I may, you'd be blown away to discover the level of minuteness and care that the owner has poured into her home, to make it an absolutely refreshing place to stay. Full of antiques, terracotta and some really grand furniture - this place itself deserves to be called a destination.
If you are a future visitor, you have a choice from either of two large, fully furnished bedrooms - each with attached baths. Maku, her caretaker, would take care of all your needs. While breakfast is included, you have an option of ordering food through Nayana from a nearby shop called Borgi. I ordered dinners for both my nights and I would strongly recommend you do. The food was really delicious and the Kashmiri mutton that came along with the Mutton thali was absolutely brilliant. Do try ! Noyona & Maku would make all efforts to make your visit memorable.
The house is located on huge land (over a bigha) and has a huge garden in front, full of mango, coconut and other trees. The entire setup keeps the surrounding very cool and breezy. Do make a visit upstairs - it has 3 separate balconies - very intelligently constructed.
If you like heritage, I think you'd enjoy your evening chats with Nayana, who could give you snippets from the old Shantiniketan and the Tagore family (I forgot to mention that Nayana is herself from the illustrious Tagore family itself). Details on that - I leave it to you to discover :-) But otherwise, you'd find yourself surrounded with books of all variety, antiques of all sorts - collected from all over the world, and some delightful paintings. And talking of paintings, one of them actually has a hidden switch at the back (yes! - just like those Dev Anand movies of the 60s).
Pro tips: (1) Maku is a gem. Her sense of embroidery would amaze you. Her creations have a lot of takers even from the international market.
(2) Do not forget to taste the wonderful micro-cookies that Nayana has. They are really different.