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All reviews spanish omelette home stay large garden warm hospitality local delicacies creature comforts yellow house haven of peace flowering shrubs art loving tall trees home away from home a wonderful stay personal touch would love to go back necessary amenities living room
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Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

I spent the past week in this rustic town in a beautiful homestay run by the multifaceted Nayana, a 6th generation Tagorean. Between jobs is a good time for reflecting and realigning with self. This was the second time I stayed with Nayana in Santiniketan. I had family accompanying me for the first two days, and I stayed on solo for the next 5 days.

Attention to detail is truly her strong suit, and she made sure we were well taken care of. She organized a day out for us with Nobi Da, her trusted Toto driver specifying pitstops which would appeal to all of us - we soaked in the historic houses within the university precincts, visited Amar Kutir and picked up handlooms and hand crafted curios, and visited the Sanibaarer Haat which my mother in law fell in love with. Maku Didi, Nayana's well trained and affectionate house help, made us home cooked breakfasts every single day(poori chola, Spanish omelettes) and ensured we had tea and coffee when required.

Once my folks left, Nayana and I spent time traversing the dusty bylanes of this beautiful town, exploring the temples and ruins of Birbhum district(as a specially curated tour), meeting with artists and potters(friends of Nayana), alums of Kala Bhavan who have made Santiniketan a home away from home. It was wonderful to meet the well known artist duo, Rashmi and Kingshuk Sarkar, and Lipi, the owner of Lipi's pottery studio. I also found my way to Subarnarekha, a book store which sells old and new books, and found a few gems. Nayana treated me to Bellada's melt in the mouth butter cookies, which I purchased by the dozen. She also made me a wonderful dalia khichdi with accompaniments(including chuna mach) for lunch, and a delicious pasta with ham for dinner during my stay. Most afternoons, I ordered home cooked non veg meals from Borgi Da.

Nayana is twice my age and yet we connect like two peas in a pod. Languid mornings and afternoons spent reading and writing in her beautiful, aesthetically done up property really helped calm down my nerves. There are about 25+ bird species to be found on her campus, filled with trees and greenery. We went up to the terrace post dinner most evenings and spent time under the moonlit and starlit skies.

Nayana is a great conversationalist, and a wonderful host. She is great with textiles and supports multiple causes of social impact. She is perceptive and lets you have your space. She is now opening her homestay for month long workcations from April - September, and I intend to go back during the monsoons. Her property now has very easy wifi, and I would absolutely recommend it for short and long term stays.

I have attached a few pictures from my lovely stay in Santiniketan.

Date of stay: March 2021
Trip type: Travelled solo
Thank ShrutiParija
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nayana gangooly, Owner at Nayana's Homestay, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Dear Shruti , it was such a pleasure to host you again after all these years and meet your lovely husband. Thank you very much for your amazing support and encouragement. Wishing you the best for all your new projects and hoping to see you back at Nayana"s Homestay soon.

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Reviewed 2 weeks ago

These days, "homestay" is a much-abused word in these parts of India. For a property tagged as a homestay, one didn't quite know what to expect -- an aspiring hotel or a toned down resort. Nayana's Homestay restored one's faith in that word. The "Chhota Kothhi" is a homestay in the truest sense of the word: you feel as if you are part of Nayana's household.
The bungalow itself is beautiful, a lived-in and organic space reflecting the owner's eclectic taste. Both the bungalow and its owner could make you feel at home immediately. Nayana is a wonderful host and an excellent conversationalist, ever ready to chat on any and all subjects under the sun. She knows the area very well and can guide you on all things Shantiniketan, from sourcing a "khesh" cushion or a rare book to the best restaurants around.
The homestay's ecosystem also includes Ronnie, the friendly pet, Maku, who could rustle up a mean spanish omlette, and Nobi, a Shantiniketan old hand whose toto you can depend on, night or day. The location of Chhota Kothhi is very convenient: Sonajhuri haat is a stone's throw away, and the Biswabharati campus an 8-min toto ride away.
We spent a very relaxing and delightful couple of days at Nayana's homestay, browsing through her large book collection, listening to her stories, and birdwatching in her large garden. We would love to go back again -- I think there are more nooks to discover in that wonderful homestay.

Date of stay: March 2021
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Mitul S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nayana gangooly, Owner at Nayana's Homestay, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Many thanks for your very kind words. It was wonderful meeting you and Dhiman. I oft find it difficult to explain what a HOMESTAY actually means and about " Nayana"s Homestay " in particular. Thanks much for highlighting this for future guests. As I like to believe, people come as guests and leave as friends and this is certainly the case with you. Hope to see you back here soon.

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Reviewed 2 March 2021

5 days with Nayana, in her beautiful Shanti Niketan world, stirred my soul. Her hospitality and the warm, welcoming environment she nurtures at her homestay - including her eclectic team of Maku- her efficient housekeeper, Ronnie - her resident four-legged beast, Nobi - her toto-man and Shibu - her driver and fellow explorer - along with time spent with members of her local community of artists and artisans - friends like family - transported me to a new dimension. I fell asleep each night before my head even touched my pillow, with each day packed with new experiences and great conversations. If you are searching for a place to explore Shanti Niketan slightly deeper, then base yourself at Nayana’s Homestay - and take her recommendations for where to eat, what to see, and how to go about it. Her rates are supreme value for money, every meal (home-cooked and ordered in) was a triumph and the location perfect as a base to explore Bolpur, Birbhum and even Bishnupur or Murshidabad for day trips or on foot as she is walking distance from so many interesting places too. My room was spacious and comfortable, with clean linen and a large double bed that could easily sleep 3. I had a clean bathroom and hot water. The common areas are strewn with fascinating items she has collected on her travels, her bookshelves are teeming with delicious books, and her walls full of interesting art. I loved the fact that there was great cross ventilation with a spring breeze always wafting through the house, golden sunlight streaming through the windows and birds chirping in the trees. I was pre-warned about the mosquitoes, and didn’t get bitten even once as I used repellent and there were mosquito coils and plug-ins to chase them away - they seemed like friendly country mozzies though, and not the nasty city ones! I can’t wait to return and can’t recommend this delightful homestay highly enough.

Date of stay: February 2021
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank htglen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nayana gangooly, Owner at Nayana's Homestay, responded to this reviewResponded 4 March 2021

It was such a pleasure to have you visit and to introduce you to this part of Bengal. It was an absolute treat to watch you imbibe the experience with wonder and appreciation. I'm truly grateful for your incredibly kind words and generosity and most of all, your generosity of spirit. Everyone who met you here was touched by you and your positive and appreciative nature. Please visit again. Soon.

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Reviewed 11 February 2021

Before I begin - let me share something here! When the pandemic struck and I was locked down for three months alone - I got to think a lot and started to imagine some new places.

I imagined a kind of home where its walls were not too high but still made me feel safe, where I could breathe in fresh air, feel the grass beneath my bare feet, see and 'smell' the greenery around... all I really wanted was open spaces that could still be closed. Paradoxical much?! Well, that was how my mind worked and wandered as the world around me steadily locked down. Small and random thoughts like that of balconies, flowering shrubs, soft cushions, big cups of tea, the call of babblers in a tree early morning – they would bring me joy.

Little did I know that during my two-night visit to Shanti Niketan, I would discover that those stray images that I would relentlessly daydream of in those many months is a REAL place –only it is even better!

Chota Kothi is truly a home away from home – and staying here is an experience that has been curated by Nayana to give you the experience of an ERA gone by, but sprinkled with plenty of creature comforts and warmth that only she brings to the table.

The rooms are spacious and filled with curios and books that immediately inform you that the owner of this home is someone who is a well-travelled, art-loving, bibliophile. There is so much art and history within the confines of her home that you could spend a few hours of a misty morning just looking up at her pictures and decor and exploring her garden. You will find a lovable companion in Ronnie who is essentially, a prescribed happy little pill. Seriously, every office or home needs a Ronnie to bat away those Monday morning blues – he just bolts in and the energy of a room gets turned up!

All the basics are there, and if there is anything else that you need – you can request the caretaker, Marku who keeps the place clean and sparkling and cooks up delicious meals. Marku’s Spanish omelette is now the stuff of legend– it is the way those mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes blend in oh-so-perfectly together that gives you a kickstart to the day!

The crown jewel in Nayana’s Homestay is Nayana herself. She is brimming with knowledge and stories and a fierceness that comes with being an independent and resilient woman, and knows her town like the back of her hand. If you have the random-est of questions about Tagore, Birbhum district, Bangla cuisine, the Vishwa Bharti university or tribal/Bangla/Contemporary art – Nayana has the answers, or could guide you to place or moment where you will get the answers! Getting to know her better whilst this trip was the cherry-on-top of an already delightful cake, and I cannot wait to sample more, someday… and hopefully soon!

Things to note:

• Some mobile networks are patchy and there is no Hi-speed Internet or Cable TV connection. If you are someone for whom that is important, or you are considering using the place to ‘work from home’ – you will need to bring your own broadband dongle as a backup. Chota Kothi is not a place for “work” (in my opinion!) – use the time and space to switch off devices and recharge your own batteries instead!

•Mosquitoes are abundant (and usually bearable!) – but a good repellent is required and make sure to close your bedroom windows during the early hours of the evening, so that your night remains peaceful and uninterrupted by this menace.

• Prantik railway station is super-close, so factor it in for all railway bookings!

• Always wear your most comfortable, easy to slip-on and slip-off walking shoes – the town and neighborhood – actually, even the larger district of Birbhum is designed to be explored on foot or the occasional Toto (electric rickshaws).

Date of stay: February 2021
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Chiteisri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nayana gangooly, Owner at Nayana's Homestay, responded to this reviewResponded 13 February 2021

Dear Chitrisri, it was such a pleasure to host you. I love it when people who are really open to the environment and new experiences visit. Nayana"s Homestay is simple. Not glamorous. All creature comforts of a " posh hotel or residence " may not be available but we spread the little warmth we can and nothing is better than a good chinwag ( adda) after a long day. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed our little neck of the woods. Mosquitoes come and go..and as you said...a good repellant work. ( they don't kill, they annoy..bad enough), and maybe ill try to get a broad band connection that works...let's see. Thanks very very much for your kind and supportive words. Can't wait for your next visit to Nayana"s Homestay ,( Chota Kothi).

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Reviewed 24 January 2021

I want to keep returning to Shantiniketan in large part due to Nayana's hospitality. She's the consummate conversationalist and an evening with her always keeps me and the other guest(s) on our toes. Nayana's knowledge of Shantiniketan and West Bengal is unparalleled and she can also do side tours for an additional fee. We visited some palaces and terracota temples. Next time I hope to go to Murshidabad with her too. The house itself is also lovely with ample room to find different places to chill out and relax. The garden is beautiful and the homestay is situated in an area where one can take lots of walks in different directions. This homestay is great value for money and I'll keep coming back when I can!

Date of stay: January 2021
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank zigeumac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nayana gangooly, Owner at Nayana's Homestay, responded to this reviewResponded 26 January 2021

It was such a pleasure to explore Birbhum and its wonders with you. Thank you very much for your kindvwords. Do return soon for more adventures.

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