It is the time for a reality check about rest houses managed by the Forest and Public Works departments of Himachal Pradesh. Although I have seen boards stating that Tourists are Welcome in front of these rest houses, tourists cannot rely on these budget accommodations. The Public Works website also quotes rates for private persons. However, getting a room in these budget rest houses is not easy for tourists.
Recently, I telephoned the Public Works Department (P.W.D.) rest house at Mandi to book a room. Here are useful insights from the conversation:
- Advance booking can be done just two (2) days before the check-in date.
- Phone is the only way to book the room.
- A room can be booked only for two (2) days in advance.
Since I was not happy with the response of the P.W.D., I telephoned the forest rest house at Mandi to book a room. It was not encouraging either. Here are takeaway points from the conversation:
- No advance booking
- Walk in the rest house. If a room is vacant, you may be accommodated.
Once earlier also I tried to book a room in the forest rest house at Nagrota Surian to meet the migratory birds. However, my request was turndown because the department needed rooms for its employees who were deputed for the bird counting.
The superintendents of these rest houses cited the following justified reasons for unfriendly responses:
- Rooms are very limited (2-3).
- Rooms are mainly meant for the employees of these departments who are traveling for official and / or personal reasons. So they are given preference.
My advice to tourists who are of course not working for these two departments is that they should look for other budget options ignoring the Tourists are Welcome boards. Tourists may try their luck in case they have no other options.