Himalayan Staycation

Himalayan Homestay, an Ark of Rural Empowerment

The Himalayan Homestay Project is an initiative in the Indian Himalayas that aims to empower rural communities through sustainable tourism. The project was initiated by Anshu Jamsenpa, a mountaineer and social activist, and her husband Tsering Wange, a cultural curator and development expert. 카지노사이트

The project involves working with local communities to create private accommodations that offer visitors an authentic experience of rural life in the Himalayas. Designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly, the families use traditional materials and techniques in their construction and operations. They also aim to bring economic benefits to local families by helping them earn a living and maintain their traditional way of life.

Meet Kamla

As Kamla WhatsApps me, I picture her wrapped in warm layers in a saree as the winter sun bathes her home through the large glass window. Just a few hours ago the sun would have risen over the five snow-capped Panchachuli peaks and bathed the remote mountain village of Sarmoli in an otherworldly light. The village is located in the Munsiari district of Uttarakhand, near the Tibet-Nepal border in the Greater Himalaya region, an 11-hour drive from the nearest airport and railway station. Many of those mornings in 2016 I met Kamla for the first time.

Like many women in Sarmola – and the nearby villages of Shankhdhura and Nanasem – she runs her household as part of Himalayan Ark, a community-owned social enterprise dedicated to responsible and helpful travel in the region. As COVID-19 decimated tourism revenue worldwide, Himalayan Ark shifted its focus from tourism to enhancing digital skills, reviving traditional crafts and long-term food security. When we were talking on the phone about the Omicron variant threat, Kamla admitted that yes, the pandemic was a big jhatka (shock). But as a community that has weathered many storms over the years, they always sail together no matter what the wind direction.

Secured Homestays

Kamla didn’t always have the confidence – or the ability – to welcome strangers from all over the world into her home. When the passionate mountaineer Malika Virdi moved to Sarmola in 1992, the women actually only had a modest income from agriculture or daily work on construction sites as a means of subsistence.

About a decade later, when Malika was elected sarpanch (president) of van Panchayat, a rural organization that has been committed to sustainable forest management for 70 years, she decided to change the situation by combining protection and livelihood. “Forest use needed regulation, but why would anyone be interested in protecting something they depend so desperately on [for fuel and feed]?” Malik mentioned in a recent video call. 온라인카지노사이트

A community that celebrates its cultures

What drew me to Sarmola, however, was not the tourism fair model, but Himal Kalasutra, a mountain festival for locals (no tourists, although they are welcome). Villagers across the Gori Valley gather to watch birds, learn outdoor activities like yoga or the ultimate frisbee, and test out digital tools like Wikipedia.

Took a birding trip through oak and deodar forests teeming with blooming red rhododendrons, enjoyed a yoga class in the surreal landscape of snow-capped mountains and mist, and cheered on the locals as they boarded the high-mountain marathon Khaliya Up, a spectacular one Alpine meadow at 3500m (8000ft elevation gain for 20km) – better for slowly walking through townspeople like me. I later learned that in the true spirit of community ownership, the hosts of Himalayan Ark keep 80% of the proceeds and voluntarily donate 5% to community development – 2% goes to the Van Panchayat and the 3% goes to a fund that offers.

Offers interest-free loans to community members to modernize their private homes. Over the years, volunteer visitors have contributed to the development of the Himalayan Ark by sharing their knowledge of local geographic mapping, environmental issues, women’s rights and rural tourism development. “They get a glimpse of the Himalayan community and make lifelong friendships,” says Malika.

Back to tradition, looking to the future

COVID-19 has spared the remote hilltop villages of Munsiari the worst of the pandemic, but it has robbed them of their most vital livelihood. “Tourism was about sharing our rural lifestyle with travelers,” says Malika. “The pandemic has taken tourism away from us, but we continue to live a rural lifestyle.” After the initial shock, Himal Prakriti, a non-profit Himalayan Ark, quickly began developing alternative sources of income for the community, powered by CSR funds and individuals Donate.

With a renewed interest in agriculture and food security, some landowners and guides were trained and paid to build circular houses – small robber-proof greenhouses made from locally available galvanized iron pipes. “We set up vegetable and forest nurseries and distributed seeds such as peppers, cucumbers, fenugreek and broccoli,” enthuses Kamla.

Himal Prakriti has reached 100-150 farmers in the Gori valley so far, many of them women. He then set about reviving a long-lost craft, beginning with the likhai workshops: the intricate hand-carving of walnuts, a skill once only possessed by the men of the Ohri community. Until a few decades ago, houses across Kumaon featured Likhai-decorated doors and windows, but when the demand for traditional houses waned, many craftsmen gave up their craft. 바카라사이트

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