The ideals of community service and a deep-seated regard for family tradition stirred early in the mind of this young boy, while still at school. It was no big surprise that the need to safeguard and promote local heritage came embedded in his DNA as we trace a lineage back to an erstwhile ancestor bestowed with the illustrious title of ‘Rai Sahib’ by the British Government back in 1941 for his generosity during dire times.
What was a searing spark gradually bloomed into a flickering flame as Kabir traversed remote regions and lesser known cities across the country through 2007 while in the employ of a reputed travel company. What struck him most during his travels was a stark realisation that the appeal rested in the fact that the local cultures were always given precedence to. These rural areas held on to their ethnic traditions in every facet of their daily lives giving the overall authentic character to the place itself.
That summer, Kabir returned to his hometown, Kalimpong a little wiser.
PaliGhar was thus borne out of an inherent need to preserve a family’s history, pay respect to the rich cultural flavours of their Nepali heritage while aiming to promote rural livelihood, protect local wildlife & provide education for the less privileged. With acres of ancestral lands to work with, the PaliGhar venture officially commenced in October 2015 and by January 2017 they opened their gates with a flourish.
Approximately 3 hours of uphill drive from Bagdogra Airport along typical winding narrow roads will bring you to the hill-town of Kalimpong in the Eastern Himalayan foothills of West Bengal. Once a critical part of the famous ’Silk Route’, Kalimpong is now another bustling town perched on a ridge above the river Teesta. If you push just a little further and brave an additional 30 mins drive beyond main Kalimpong town you will notice the terrain blending into verdant terraced paddy fields surrounded by dark blue hills. Gradually the fields open into a village called ‘Echhey’ – a panoramic open countryside stuck in time.
PaliGhar – An Experiential Farmstay beautifully merges into the picturesque backdrop, awaiting with its bounty of natural offerings from this side of the Himalayas.
Hawa Ghar overlooking the cottage at PaliGhar
A holistic experience in its purest form, PaliGhar offers a buffet of experiential travelling like no other with its range of authentic farm-life activities, quaint trekking trails along the Relli River and remote villages. Amusing sights & sounds greet you at every nook and corner with friendly villagers eager to share a cup of tea or a familiar tale.
Set against the scenic backdrop of a rural Himalayan countryside, this place celebrates local craftsmanship and the abundance of unique horticulture and floriculture found only in these parts of the region. Rustic and rural lifestyle merges in this world to occasionally spring up contemporary surprises like a hidden picnic spot, renowned floral nurseries and a glimpse into the nearby Himalayan Trust for Natural History of Art Institute.
PaliGhar offers travellers 02 guest cottages inspired by the traditional indigenous style of Himalayan architecture. Designed to complement the surroundings, the building style involves the use of all familiar natural materials available in the area and is constructed by workers from the community. While one of the cottages comprises 02 guest rooms, the second one comes along with an in-house kitchen and a common dining cum living space.
In keeping with the feel of a genuine Farm-life experience the PaliGhar kitchen dishes out authentic local Nepali cuisines sourced from their own organic kitchen garden.
Be prepared for your senses to be assailed with a heady mix of fragrant homegrown rice and a plethora of fresh seasonal produce lovingly prepared with traditional combinations of local spices.
While their Lunch and Dinner are simple set-menu-affairs offering homely Nepali food, they maintain a comfortable continental theme for Breakfast with few thoughtful options of local fare for the occasional guest request. For the eager culinary enthusiast, the PaliGhar kitchen is happy to demonstrate a detailed ethnic Nepali cooking routine and share a secret tip or two to take home.
The PaliGhar team have been pleasantly surprised with the turn-over of guests so far. It has been established that age is no bar when it comes to experiential adventures for the discerning traveller in search of unadulterated outdoors and nature. From single woman traveller to families & friends and elderly people, the guest list boasts of a delightfully mixed clientele stream. It is also interesting to note that many of these guests have arrived at the region and zeroed in on PaliGhar as a destination itself. The average stay for a guest at PaliGhar appears to be 04-05 nights, during which every activity in the farm is curated to suit the mood of the traveller. Guests leave PaliGhar with rejuvenated minds, wholesome bodies and refreshed souls to dive back directly into their busy lives.
It is heartwarming and a common sight here to find parents familiarising their children with the goodness of farm-life and encouraging them to participate in outdoor activities during their stay.
While a few local travel agents support this homegrown venture, it has mainly been ‘by word of mouth’ and traveller recommendations that have made PaliGhar the Farmstay Destination of choice in recent times.
Connect with PaliGhar
You can log into the PaliGhar Website for more details or tune into their Instagram handle @palighar and Facebook page for regular updates & enquiries. PaliGhar reservations may be reached via Air BNB, Booking.com or TripAdvisor.
In the recent past PaliGhar has also had its fair share of social coverage and has featured in a few prominent travel journos, each brimming with their own version of the delight in store at this place. Take a look :
Roots & Leisure
Tripadvisor has been abuzz with positive traveller feedback for quite a while and you can tap into the link below to read more:
Thank you for reading!
Stay tuned to Sketchywanderer for more vignettes of hidden places and spaces. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this blog.