Where can I stay in the Indian Himalayas?

Forest Rest House, Mastgarh, Himachal Pradesh


India accounts for more than seventy percent of the loftiest and youngest mountain range, the Himalayas. Accommodation choices in the Indian Himalayas, however, do not match its size and area. You can find ten different types of accommodations in the Indian Himalayas. All types of lodging, however, may not be available in all destinations. The choices also decrease, as you go closer to tree and snow lines and away from towns, villages, and other settlements.

1 Dharamshalas

Dharamshalas are generally associated with religious institutes. Dharamshalas, synonymous with budget board and lodging, offer dormitories with shared bathrooms and toilets and / or independent rooms with attached washrooms. Many free dharamshalas expect sizeable donations, whereas others charge a nominal tariff. The mid- to high-end dharamshalas ask high price or expect big donations for additional modern amenities. The kitchens serve simple vegetarian food.

2 Forest Rest Houses

Forest departments of the Himalayan states follow the tradition of building rest houses for the employees. The departments allow general public to book the rooms for reasonable rates. Kitchens are integral part of the rest houses, but the service depends on season, number of guests, and location of the rest house.

The rest houses are generally constructed amid or on periphery of the forests. Many rest houses afford beautiful views of the Himalayan landscape.

3 Government hotels

The Himalayan state tourism development corporations or other similar entities run hotels in the respective states. The hotel spectrum consists of budget, mid-end, and high-end accommodations. We stayed in many of these government hotels and made a few interesting observations:

  • Rooms are generally airy bright spacious due to good locations and layouts.
  • Menu, cutlery, and taste of food are almost same in all hotels in a state irrespective of the location.
  • Maintenance is not up to the mark in many properties.
  • The staff of these government-run properties has an attitude of a typical government servant. After completing probation, the job is done casually, as no one can easily fire them.

Browse the following websites of the corporations for more details:

Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (J.K.T.D.C.)

Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (H.P.T.D.C.)

Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. (G.M.V.N.), Uttarakhand

Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. (K.M.V.N.), Uttarakhand

Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (S.T.D.C.)

4 Home stay

Government approved home stays provide the best possible opportunity to experience unique cultures of the Himalaya.

A home stay means a guest room within the house of a local host in the selected destination. The room may feature an attached or shared bathroom and toilet. The host may / may not allow you to use the kitchen and / or share the dining area. The host however serves home-made food for a price.

The government approved home stays feature all the basics, but some of them may offer additional comforts for extra payment.

5 Pre-pitched tents

In some popular destinations, private companies and / or government offer fully-furnished tents with sharing toilet tents. You need not worry about pitching the tents and cleaning them. Like a hotel room, check in and live in the tent. A traditional hotel room and “tent room” however are not same. For example, the “tent room” generally does not feature cupboards and lockers with inbuilt locks. Bring the luggage that can be locked. Do not bring too many valuables. Carry only essential valuables and never leave them unattended in the “tent room.”

6 P.W.D. Rest Houses

Each Himalayan state has Public Works Department (P.W.D.). The department builds and maintains rest houses for its employees across the state. The rest houses, however, welcome general public as well. The lodging, usually featuring spacious rooms, charges a nominal tariff. The kitchens serve simple vegetarian and / or non-vegetarian food.

7 Private hotels

Traditional hotels, commercial ventures, are run solely for profit. The mountain range is dotted with a wide range of hotels. The amenities, services, and tariffs vary from destination to destination. The accommodation range includes guest houses, budget hotels, one to five star hotels, and theme resorts.

8 Rooms in temples

Many temples offer a few rooms for travelers. Advance booking for the walk-in accommodations is not easy, or rather impossible. The basic self-service accommodations are extremely affordable. The temple may offer simple vegetarian food or allow the traveler to cook.

9 Self-camping

Adventure seekers who are well versed in art and science of pitching tents can opt for self-camping. In some parts, they will find designated camping sites, whereas, in other parts, especially, beyond snow and tree lines, they have to locate a suitable grassy and / or barren pitch depending on the team requirements. They have to carry complete camping gear.

10 Youth Hostels

Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) offers both independent rooms with attached washrooms and dormitories with shared toilets and bathrooms for less than INR 1,000 per room, per night in a few Himalayan destinations.