Ever since my first visit to a homestay in Tirthan valley I have fallen for them, I prefer them to hotels or resorts. They are so much more personal, equally or sometimes even more comfortable than hotels, have loads of character and above all that give you a chance to stay with the locals and maybe even indulge in food with them. Sharing recipe with them or talking about a custom they have. Just so much more insight, chatting away with them is in itself a pretty rewarding thing for me and my wife who anyways are chatter boxes.
In Munsiari, we in Shakhadhura side of Sarmoli Village with a lady called Basanti Rawat, from the first phone conversation with her there was a sort of a friendliness that came through. We reached her home and they have made two cottages with huge windows that open to the Panchachuli Peaks, they offer a small kichen as well in the cottage and a few books to read. Life in this village in Sarmoli was very calm and peaceful, about a 10-15 min walk from the road you are cut off from all sorts of noises that traffic could cause.
I and my wife both remarked many times whenever we stopped in our talks geez its so quiet, no noise, maybe some birds sometimes would chirp or an occasional goat braying.
Basantiji’s house was a pretty simple abode with comfortable chairs and beds and a pretty neat and clean washroom as well. Still work in progress it is, but, then all you need to spend time in the hills is just a base right!?
She would tirelessly keep asking us for tea, in the evenings she would make us Pakoda’s which she served with Bhaang Ki Chutney and the Pakoda’s were heavenly delicious! Always adorning a smile and insisting that we were not eating enough, we were trekking about and according to her you need the energy to walk!
The subzi of Lingdi found its way through one day, local daals, eggs made as per our request or her own version of kheema which we loved to bits. Home cooked food has its own beauty and eating local food whilst you are travelling even more so!
Her husband who had left army was known by the name of Raju Pradhan was a pretty interesting person to talk to, he was keen to tell us all about the surroundings, the people & Munsiyari. Equally keen to get info from us, chatty, and that suited us well. He even told us about Yarsa Gumbo, which I learnt for the first time, can you imagine there is a parasite that grows in a living larva, kills it and that piece of larva and the parasite when matures sells for Rs. 10lakh a kg!! Yes, it does, and I did wiki about it reading and the fact is true. Infact a lot of people locally are engaged in searching for Yarsagumba as it is called on the tall peaks. According to Rajuji in a month many people who go camping and looking for Yarsagumba come back with atleast enough bounty to get them 1-2 lakhs. Apparently a lot of people are even chucking their jobs here and switching to this!
Those are the perks of living with locals, apart from the Yarsagumba there were so many tales that were recounted and shared with each other.
If you ever go to Munsiyari, ensure you stay in the Himalayan Ark Homestay’s which are run by local women under the guidance of Mallikaji. Its an absolute no brainer. Here are a couple of pics, unfortunately I don’t think I took one with the cottage and view together, yea we used to sit and talk that much and walk as much too! 🙂