On June 2013, when Kedarnath floods devastated all what came in its way, a thriving rafting resort at Rishikesh was also devoured by the relentless flood waves. The owners, two young guys hailing from Uttarakhand, had put all they had into the rafting business. The floods may have devastated their business; however, their unflinching will to succeed against all the odds grew even stronger. Together, they came up with the idea of Pahadi House – an eco friendly homestay that has since become a torch-bearer for promoting rural tourism in Uttarakhand.
“After our resort was engulfed by the floods, we returned to our villages and decided we cannot give up now. It’s now or never.“ recalls Abhay Sharma, who hails from the Neelkanth, Pauri Garhwal. Migration has been a major issue in Uttarakhand that left houses empty and villages ghost. “We thought, why not use these abandoned houses and turn it into a homestay, keeping intact the heritage? Thus, Pahadi House came into existence.” adds Yash Bhandari, who has his roots in Akhodi village in Tehri Garhwal.
In search for a perfect destination, the duo zeroed in on Chopdiyal village at Kanatal, just 48 kms from Mussoorie. They leased two abandoned houses in a dilapidated condition and gave it a makeover reviving the Pahadi essence that once lingered all around this forsaken house. They aptly christened their eco friendly homestay as ‘Pahadi House’. The architecture strongly resembles a traditional village house in Uttarakhand. Moreover, the mesmerizing view of the snow clad Himalayan peaks from Pahadi House adds to its charm.
The gamble paid off. With over 4,000 guests including 400 foreign tourists, Pahadi House has become a favorite haunt for people looking for a calm, secluded and peaceful place amidst the verdant hills. The scrumptious Pahadi cuisine as well as the Pahadi lifestyle experienced at the homestay has left many tourists in awe. However, the USP of Pahadi House is its balance between being a hilly homestay yet offering ample convenience and amenities to its guests.
Abhay and Yash not only successfully managed to restart their hospitality venture, they did with giving back to the community they grew up in. “To help few families earn a livelihood and promote eco tourism in our native Uttarakhand with the help of Pahadi House, it’s a dream come true for us.” adds Abhay Sharma. The favorable reviews and reception of Pahadi House at Kanatal has led the duo to expand their venture. “We have circled out couple of locations at Hathi Paon, Mussoorie and Kunao village, Pauri. They will be ready soon.” assures Yash Bhandari.
Over a million tourists travel to Uttarakhand every year. A responsible government should support the ventures like Pahadi House. They not only encourage responsible tourism in the state but also offer employment opportunities to the local population. Only then issues like migration and unemployment that marred Uttarakhand for decades will resolve once and for all. With the help of rural tourism, it maybe our one last shot to revive and rejuvenate Uttarakhand’s culture, heritage, traditions and values which is heading towards obscurity.