People who are well versed with such things, for them the Darbargadh (small fort) which is the Devpur Homestay would have been a dead giveaway. To fools like me it just looked mighty impressive! Imagine my surprise when I was told by people later that Mr Krutarthsinh Jadeja and Mrs. Yashodhara Jadeja (the owners) are closely related the royal family of Bhuj. Here I was, with such a close brush with royalty and I was completely unaware about it!
Kutch was a last minute trip for me. I was supposed to fly out to Thailand on Sunday and on Thursday evening I got to know that the trip was not happening. I sat on the net for 4 hours without even blinking looking for a reasonable airfare. At the last moment cheap airfare was out of question. My second criteria was that it should be someplace warm, I didn’t want to freeze in cold. I got reasonable airfare for Ahmedabad and Kutch was the region I narrowed on. All good so far.
I also managed to get a train ticket from Ahmedabad to Bhuj, it was a 7 hour journey. I still had to get a roof over my head though, at least for the first day. I did not look for a homestay first. It was only after getting defeated by the hotels of Bhuj I searched for a homestay in desparation. The hotels I liked only had an expensive room and I am still not used to spending thousands of rupees for one night stay. I am now glad that I didn’t settle for a hotel.
So, I really stumbled upon the Devpur Homestay. I could get to the homestay site only through Sangeeta’s blog, otherwise I get only third party websites. I straight away called Mr. Krutarthsinh ji and cajoled him to give the lower priced Lal Bungalow Annexe room to me. If he was surprised that I was traveling solo, he did not show it. He asked me to drop a mail, which I promptly did, mentioning my blogging credentials as well. Then I hoped it would work. When he replied in the affirmative I could see my trip really happening.
The only doubt was now about the fog. If we got fog at Delhi my flight would get delayed and I would miss my train connection. But the fog gods were kind to me as well. I messaged him from the train to ask for a taxi and he gave me Mr. Siddique’s number. So by the time I reached Bhuj, I had a taxi waiting for me and a roof over my head as well.
Bhuj to Devpur is 40km but when I visit Kutch again, I will still stay at Devpur. As the taxi neared the village I saw an ornate window. I told myself that I would walk that way to the place to click a picture! In a few seconds my taxi took a turn inside the complex, that ornate window was the part of the homestay! I was at Devpur Homestay. I was welcomed by Mr. Jadeja’s mother in the traditional way, with a tika, prasad and a garland. I was offered tea and that is the real test for me for any place. If they offer me tea and are generous with it, I am ready to like the place instantly. It was chilly and peaceful in the evening. When I went to my room I liked it as well (see the video at the end of the post), it was comfortable and well appointed. You can have a look at the rate card here. I was staying here for two nights.
At dinner I asked Mr. Jadeja what could I do the next day? I also asked if he could suggest me what to do for this trip! He planned my itinerary for the next 3 days, put me in touch with 3 hotels and arranged two taxis for me as Mr Siddique was not available the next day. I could not have asked for anything more. I jokingly asked him if he charged a consultancy fee for all this and he laughed it off. And all this while, the other guests (two couples from Mumbai) and I had no clue about their royal connection!
The food was home cooked. The first day Mrs Yashodhara was not at home so when I asked what was the soup he laughed and said “don’t ask me! Let my wife come back”. But he took a guess and said it was cauliflower! I loved the food. The only downside of the place is that it is close to the village temple that blasts prayers at 4.45 am for about 30 minutes. The first day it caught me by surprise, the second day I opened half an eye and went back to sleep again.
The school is at the back of the Darbargadh (small fort) and when I said they had a big playground they told me the real playground was a little distance away! They are very fond of the school but when I was there it was closed.
From Ahmedabad Airport I wrote a thank you SMS to Mr. Jadeja and he wished me Bon Voyage. I then said that everyone told me they were connected to the royal family and there was a silence. I further asked if I wrote about it it on my blog would they ban me from future visits? I was assured that it would not be so! I surely want to take Chhavi along the next time I visit Kutch. If I could have it my way I would drag Seshadri along as well!
This was not my first homestay but after this trip I am going to look for homestays first and hotels later!