Sarmoli girls lead ecotourism venture in Uttarakhand

* The migration story is finest captured in a proverb that the locals generally use: Pahad ka paani aur pahad ki jawani pahad mein nahi rukti (the h2o and youth of the mountains by no means keep in the mountains)

* The homestay programme gives travellers like me a glimpse into superior-altitude village lifestyle

* What I beloved the most was the easy but delicious Kumaoni foodstuff

* Some 7km from Sarmoli, in the 100-year-previous Darkot village, women have turned the neighborhood custom of knitting and weaving into livelihood


When the scorching summer heat commences beating down on us, we start off hunting at colder spots for respite. We just can’t halt raving about the benefits of being in the mountains — the wooden lodges, clean air, blue skies, birdsong, pleasurable weather, fresh new food items and so on.

Highlands could glimpse stunning from a distance but the moment you take away your rose-tinted eyeglasses, a grim actuality stares again at you.

All over 3.3 million men and women — a lot more than a third of Uttarakhand’s inhabitants — have migrated from its rural spots since the formation of the state in 2000. Agriculture and tourism are not ample to sustain homes, so the metropolitan areas are where the people of the state transfer in look for of work opportunities. The consequence: Ghost villages with zero to 10 inhabitants. In accordance to a report by its migration commission, Uttarakhand had 1,700 ghost villages by 2018. These incorporated destinations occupied by significantly less than 1,000 citizens. And in 4,000 villages the circulation of folks moving out is a consistent.

The migration story is finest captured in a proverb that the locals normally use: Pahad ka paani aur pahad ki jawani pahad mein nahi rukti (the drinking water and youth of the mountains in no way keep in the mountains).

Is there a way to quit this craze?

I located the clues concealed in the villages of Munsiyari, a hill station situated in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.

Three decades in the past, a lady named Malika Virdi, an intrepid mountaineer and social activist, still left Delhi to settle in the village of Sarmoli. She not only fought for the legal rights of the gals of Sarmoli but also trained them for option resources of income. The year 2004 observed her launch the Himalayan Ark Homestay programme, beneath which the persons of Sarmoli opened their homes to vacationers. From uncomplicated mountain folks, these women became Munsiyari’s gals of mettle. Now they mature their very own meals, knit clothing and operate homestays.

Powerhouse: 3 generations of a family members that runs a homestay in Sarmoli village   –  IMAGES: ARCHANA SINGH


The homestay programme offers travellers like me a glimpse into large-altitude village life. Right here, you can gradual down, detox your lungs, watch vibrant butterflies and birds, and go on scenic hikes to sacred forest ponds through oak- and rhododendron-lined trails. You can slumber in rustic village rooms and wake up to the view of majestic snowy Himalayan peaks.

What I liked the most was the simple but tasty Kumaoni food items. My host, Saraswati Thakuni and her granddaughter, Bhanu, cooked a lavish spread — madua ki roti (made with nearby finger millet), dwelling-grown pahadi pink rice, bhatt soup (made with Kumaoni black bean), timur ka saag (created with a medicinal Himalayan plant), bhang ki chutney (wild hemp condiment) and lots of additional. To full the rustic enchantment, the foodstuff was cooked on a chulha (mud stove) and served in bell-steel thalis on the kitchen area flooring.

Although relishing the hospitality at Sarmoli, I learnt that the homestay programme also contributes to the sustainable growth of the area, which is remarkably vulnerable to local weather adjust. Virdi, the programme founder, filled me in on the back again story: “This girls-led company was founded in 2004, through village forest commons recognized as van panchayats. Ahead of 2004, mother nature-centered and local community centred tourism was virtually a non-extractive livelihood solution.” The team was concerned in the restoration of substantial-altitude lakes and forests, and communities. As a final result, Sarmoli, below the steerage of van panchayat sarpanch Virdi, is now synonymous with ecotourism in Uttarakhand. The women of all ages have also introduced down migration to the cities by involving villagers in their function. Right before the pandemic, Sarmoli homestay homeowners ended up earning at least ₹1.5 lakh a calendar year

Designed in Munsiyari: Angora wool creations with the title of the maker


And, it is not just the homestay programme that is empowering ladies. Some 7km from Sarmoli, in the 100-year-outdated Darkot village, women have turned the neighborhood tradition of knitting and weaving into livelihood. This took off a several decades in the past when, beneath a governing administration scheme, family members here were given Angora rabbits to rear. Right now, just about every female in Darkot knits and sells her solutions through ladies-operate cooperative established-ups such as Saras and Maati. Aside from Darkot, there are about 12 villages in the location in which more than 50 females knit unique sorts of outfits — from woollen capes to cardigans, shrugs to socks. These goods — together with the title of the creator described in the label — uncover their way to the neighborhood marketplace and buyers in other parts of the place via other collectives.

That is a single way of maintaining Munsiyari with us. For a closer association, there is constantly the rustic comfort of a Sarmoli home.

Archana Singh is a freelancer writer based mostly in Delhi

Vacation log


Having there

  • By air: Fly to Pantnagar (336 km from Munsiyari) or Pithoragarh (125 km from Munsiyari) and then acquire a taxi.
  • By educate: Just take a educate to Tanakpur or Kathgodam equally are close to 200 km from Munsiyari. Hire a taxi for the journey onward.
  • By road: The journey from Delhi to Munsiyari is about 580-km long and requires somewhere around 17 hrs. A night time halt at Almora or Nainital is recommended.

When to go

March to June or September to Oct.


Sarmoli Homestays mobile: 94111 94041 and 99177 89950. The tariff is 1,800 (distinctive of GST) per evening.