Homestay with a difference in Sarmoli

Even as villages offering home-stays become increasingly common in the Himalaya, there are some that are different. Sarmoli, located on the slopes above Munsiari town in Uttarakhand, offers an experience that few others can. Sitting on the balcony of a house with a breathtaking view of the valley below and a line of snowpeaks on the horizon, we could see why Sarmoli is an ideal location for sensitive tourism. Till the mid-1990s, visitors would stay at Munsiari town or move on, providing little to the local rural economy. When Malika Virdi and E. Theophilus (a couple who came to do environmental and livelihood work) made Sarmoli their home in 1992, Malika realised the potential of running a nature-based and community-owned tourism enterprise in the valley. In 2003, on being elected sarpanch of the Van Panchayat (village forest commons), Malika helped build the capacity of several rural women to start such facilities, linking forest conservation work to tourism as a sustainable livelihood option. Many women converted an existing room into a guest room with some internal redesign. If, however, this was not available, Malika helped them get loans to build an extension. Today the village offers 15 homestays, and about 25 households are involved in tourism activities… Read more

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