This 500-Year-Old House In Raithal Is A Unique Homestay

The design of this 500-year-old house in Raithal, Uttarakhand, is inspired by Koti Banal architecture, which is considered quake-resistant. The home-turned-homestay has weathered several earthquakes
Raithal Homestay
Raithal HomestayHomestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana

Thriving with local life and culture, Raithal's slow-paced charm will leave you mesmerised if you are visiting this village for the first time. Surrounded by the Gangotri, Kala Nag and Srikanth peaks, it is an ideal destination for nature lovers and hikers. While the village serves as the base camp for the Dayara Bugyal Trek, not many know that other than farming, locals earn their livelihood through homestays, community programmes, working as trekking guides, porters, and honey collectors.

Adding to Raithal's rustic charm are its houses. Built on the lines of traditional Garhwali architecture, these houses offer an insight into the region's architectural heritage. One such example is the earthquake-resistant multi-storeyed houses inspired by "Koti Banal" architecture, that are perfect for Uttarkashi's disaster-prone terrain.

The allure of these quaint houses continues to stand out, and they have emerged as popular tourist attractions. With fears looming large over the gradual extinction of these historic buildings, many have been converted into homestays. Topping the tourist checklist is the 500-year-old Raithal Homestay. Away from the city din, tourists head to this homestay to spend quality time and learn about its quake-resistant history.

Raithal Homestay
Raithal HomestayHomestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana

Known to have weathered three earthquakes, the homestay is the ancestral home of the Rana family. With mud rooms and intricately designed windows, the homestay is a perfect spot for those seeking solace in the lap of nature.

Prithiviraj Singh Rana, who currently runs the homestay with his father, Vijay Singh Rana, has spent his childhood in the three-storeyed house. Now, he shares his tales of childhood with the guests, who come here to experience the comfort of the mud rooms.

Raithal Homestay
Raithal HomestayHomestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana

"It was in 2017 when an NGO named Balajee Sewa Sansthan, in collaboration with the Uttarakhand government, realised the tourism potential of Raithal and added our heritage property to the tourism map of the region," said Rana.

This 500-year-old house has protected generations of the Rana family in all seasons and calamities. "I don't even have a count of the number of earthquakes it has withstood. However, in the devastating earthquake of 1991, almost all the houses in our village were wiped off, barring our house and a few others that stood strong," added Rana.

The durability of these houses is because of the scientific excellence of Koti Banal architecture, which relies on locally available materials.

"Substances like mud, stone and wood from Deodar trees have been used in the construction of our house. The roof slabs, called 'Pathali' in Garhwali, keep the interiors cool in summer and warm in winter. All these elements collectively make the foundation and structure of the houses strong and long-lasting," Rana said.

Facilities At The Homestay

Inside view of the mud room at the homestay
Inside view of the mud room at the homestayHomestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana

Enveloped by fruit orchards, the three-storey homestay has one room functional for the guests, accommodating up to six people. The restroom, comprising a western toilet, geyser and other amenities, is in front of the mud room. Accompanying the room is a balcony overlooking the valley, allowing guests to capture Instagram-worthy photos.

A tourist holding freshly plucked strawberries from the orchard near the homestay
A tourist holding freshly plucked strawberries from the orchard near the homestayHomestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana

For adventure seekers, there is enough space for camping and bonfires near the strawberry, peach, plum and apple orchards. "We also offer trekking tours to ensure guests have a smooth experience," Rana said.

Food At The Homestay

A Garhwali thali
A Garhwali thaliHomestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana

With home-cooked meals like dal chawal and sabzi roti, the food at the homestay is simple yet wholesome. "Our special menu includes local cuisine such as 'bhujji' (a concoction of wild greens), red rice, Mandwa (Ragi) roti, and loon (a condiment made of local herbs). This way, we can familiarise the guests with the culture of Uttarakhand," said Rana.

The Information

Getting there: The nearest city to Uttarkashi's Raithal is Dehradun. Once you are in Dehradun, you will be required to drive for another 6-7 hours to reach the village. On getting here, ask any local about 'Raithal Homestay' to take you to your stay for the next few days.

Address: Raithal Homestay, Raithal village, Bhatwari tehsil, Uttarkashi

Contact details: You can also contact homestay owner Prithviraj Singh Rana on 072488 76566 to reach the accomodation.

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