The Wayanad way of life

If waking up to birds chirping, enjoying fresh home-cooked meals and being surrounded by nature is your thing, then explore a homestay with SaveAGram in Kerala. Your visit will leave you feeling rejuvenated, and your stay will help empower the villagers hosting you.

MEET THE NAMBIAR FAMILY

Kesavan Nambiar lives in his ancestral home in Wayanad, Kerala, with his wife Sumathi, their son Rijesh and daughter-in-law Sowmya, and granddaughter Niranjana. A forward thinking man, Kesavan grows all his produce organically. Working with the SaveAGram initiative, he has opened up his home and farm as a homestay, so that he and his family can preserve and share their peaceful way of life, while earning an income to better run their farm.

SaveAGram (gram is Hindi for village) was founded by Amala Menon to offer rural homestay experiences in India, thus keeping traditional village culture alive while providing host families with a source of income.

These are villages that God created in the best way possible.

Amala Menon,
Founder of SaveAGram

NATURE, CULTURE, FOOD

Awaken to the sounds of nature and step out for a leisurely walk in the morning mist. Explore the village and its surrounding forests, and you may even find a waterfall only locals know about. Learn about or even take part in local customs, or visit ancient temples. Come back home to a freshly-cooked meal by Sumathi, who uses organic produce picked from their farm to create mouth-watering dishes cooked over a wood-fired stove. Around the house, Kesavan cultivates rice, beans, pepper and other crops using organic methods.

You will live in Kesavan’s ancestral home, built traditionally and maintained with great care and attention. The simple but cozy house has two bedrooms for guests and a refurbished bathroom.

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE COMMUNITY

Wayanad is home to the largest population of indigenous people in Kerala, and a school was founded to provide free education to some 250 children, who might not otherwise go to school at all. Visits to the school can be arranged for you to spend time with them.

Kesavan stands proudly in front of his home. The home he was born in and the home her granddaughter Niranjana will grow up in.
Rice is a part of the staple diet in Kerala and the paddy fields of Wayanad are in the valleys. Due to increasing cultivation costs and low profits, these holdings are shrinking.
Kesavan looks over his freshly cultivated, paddy fields, cradling Niranjana his granddaughter. The family is busy preparing for the day ahead, which will go from cool morning to blazing afternoon.
Everyone in the Nambiar family has their own set of tasks and responsibilities for the house, homestay and the farm. Kesavan’s son Rijesh starts his day at 6am by milking the family cow.
Dawn bird calls are the perfect soundtrack for yoga. The serene environment away from the city’s hustle-bustle encourages a meditative state.
It is the end of pepper season and Kesavan climbs up to pick one of the last fruiting vines. Pepper is a coveted cash crop in Wayanad, often referred to as ‘black gold’. Kerala has a long history of exporting pepper, dating back to the days of the silk route.
Kesavan says he was born a farmer, but is an artist at heart. He is frequently starting DIY projects around the house, painting and organising local theatre performances with his friends.
Kesavan’s wife, Sumathi learned to cook from her mother, who also loved to feed people and passed down all the special family recipes to her daughter.
All the ingredients for Sumathi’s delicious sambar.
Sumathi and her daughter-in-law, Sowmya, prepare a scrumptious and healthy breakfast.
Amala, the founder of SaveAGram digs in!
Rijesh, Sowmya and their daughter are the future of the farm and the homestay. Fortunately, they share Kesavan’s passion about keeping things the way they are.
Lunch doesn’t get fresher than having beans picked straight from the farm’s vegetable patch.
Sowmya prepares lunch in a hurry, because she is attending the big annual harvest festival in the village, where she will also get to catch up with friends.
All the farming families in the area gather to pray for an abundant season. The festival culminates in a big feast.
For nature buffs, a lush, tropical jungle perfect for hiking surrounds Wayanad. The trek upstream, led by Kelu our lovely guide, ends at a magnificent waterfall. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the breathtaking view.
These children live in very remote areas, and without this school, they would not have access to proper education.
Education is free for the students. They receive books, pens, medical care, food and accommodation. The classrooms are very simple: a few wooden benches and a blackboard.
Amala, the founder of SaveAGram, supports the school in many ways. She encourages SaveAGram guests to spend some time with the children so both can learn from each other.
With some help from students, the chef makes roughly 750 meals per day in this kitchen. They are simple meals of rice, dal and vegetables.
Students sit on the floor to enjoy their lunch. Some chat between mouthfuls.
These girls love to sing and dance, and their repertoire is broad — from their favourite pop songs to traditional tribal dances.
Photo Credit: Gayatri Ganju
Tap to view more photos

THE DIFFERENCE YOU MAKE

PRESERVE A WAY OF LIFE, GIVE THE GIFT OF EDUCATION

Not only will you empower the Nambiar family through the homestay so that they can continue with (and share) their way of living, your visit to the village school may even inspire you to do more, such as by volunteering to spend time with them.

GETTING THERE

From the international airports in Chennai, Bangalore or Mumbai, take a domestic flight to Calicut or Mysore. From there, hire a taxi for the two-hour scenic drive to your host's home. Alternatively, it is a six-hour drive from Bangalore or Kochi airport. Your host can help make all transport arrangements.

TRAVELLER'S NOTES

Try the refreshing coconut water
Listen out for a chorus of birds in the early morning every day
Have a go at the freshly laid eggs
Try milking the cow early in the morning
Ask Kesavan to take you on a walk at sunset
For mobile phone reception, you may need to go outside the house
If you’re a coffee connoisseur who can’t live without your daily cuppa, bring your own
Safe drinking water is provided, but bottled water is also available in the nearby town
Don’t leave any plastic behind
Temples require you to get permission before taking photos

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