Sunday, December 21, 2008

Experience life in the Indian Himalaya

If you consider yourself a responsible tourist, are interested in learning and sharing experiences with a community different to your own, and would like to get an insight into what life is like living in a rural village in the Indian Himalaya, then consider a village stay with the people of Dhanpo.

If you do not speak Hindi please email:

Vipin Unniyal at . Vipin is the English-speaking liaison.

If you speak Hindi please contact:

Meena Devi, the President of the women's self-help group, or her husband Narayan Singh Tomar, directly at the following telephone numbers:

Landline +91 (0)1360 277522 or
Mobile +91 (0)9411392877

Dhanpo is a small village in the foothills of the Himalaya. The village is located a couple of hours drive beyond the hill-station of Mussoorie in the state of Uttarakhand, northern India. It is a beautiful area. You can do a number of day hikes, visiting the villages, fields, water mills and temples around. Don't be surprised if you're invited into people's homes for a cup of chai and a chat. The Yamuna River is also only a few kilometres down the road, and a locally owned company offers rafting excursions during rafting season. The photos here give you a sense of the village and the surrounding area.

We were accommodated in a new building that was constructed in 2005 for the local women's self-help group. The accommodation was more than adequate for our needs, with electricity, a bathroom with running water, a kitchen with gas cooking stove, pots, pans, etc, beds and ample bedding provided. The organic farming practiced in the village meant that our diet consisted entirely of fresh, healthy and incredibly tasty local produce

You will need to rent a car or taxi from Mussoorie, Dehradun or Delhi in order to reach the village. Mussoorie is an hour drive from Dehradun, the de-facto state capital of Uttarakhand. Dehradun is about a seven hour drive North of Delhi. Alternatively, the train from Delhi is a much more pleasant, economical and environmentally friendly way of reaching Dehradun.

My wife, son and I were privileged to be able to visit and stay in Dhanpo on several occasions during 2008. The villagers in Dhanpo were incredibly hospitable to us throughout our stay with them. We were truly made to feel one of them. Our son, who turned two while we were there, loved living in the village and found that his family had suddenly expanded ten-fold.

As far as we know we were the first foreign guests to stay in Dhanpo for a lengthy period of time. The women's self-help group is now eager to invite other people to come and experience Dhanpo for themselves. I agreed to help them in this enterprise by creating this blog. After all the hospitality they showed us over an extended period of time, I felt this was the least I could do and I hope some good comes of it.

If you're interested in farming, and particularly organic and sustainable farming practices, then I recommend you make the effort to visit Dhanpo. Here are a few photos of the farming that goes on in and around the village:

If you have any questions for me, I'd be more than happy to respond. Send me an email: , or make a comment on this blog.