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The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba


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Duration: 3 Days
Expenditure 9000
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 1/15 by Bee The Musafir
One can spend as many days at the Himalayan Orchard Huts given its peaceful atmosphere and budget pricing.

Some 12 km away from Chamba town, nestled on a green mountain, the Himalayan Orchard Huts homestay by Dhami family is a place one should visit at least once in a lifetime.

I call this homestay as my precious discovery. Confused after canceling Srinagar plan due to the ongoing unrest in the Valley (May 2017), I was left with options like Dalhousie, Khajjiar and Kalatop – the places I had already been to.

I browsed a number of travel websites and read a dozen of travel books and eventually found the Himalayan Orchard Huts– a homestay based on the concept of “back to the nature”. It had everything I was looking for – a home away from crowd, peaceful atmosphere, caring people, homemade food, somewhere up in the mountains with breath-taking views, fresh air, not even the fumes of fuel, and a place where I would get a complete peace of mind.

Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 2/15 by Bee The Musafir
There is no railway line in Chamba. It can be reached by road from Pathankot, Chandigarh, or Kangra. Click here to enlarge the map.

By the time I reached village Chadiyara, Batt, 12 km away from Chamba, I was hell tired after an overnight trek to Mata Vaishno Devi and continuous travel of about a week (from Goa to Pune to Delhi to Jammu to Katra to Jammu again and to Pathankot, and finally to Chamba).

On reaching village Batt, I was told that I had to climb the mountain to reach the Himalayan Orchard Huts. I hardly had energy left in me – but I was optionless!

Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 3/15 by Bee The Musafir
Right in the middle of this photograph the Himalayan Orchard Huts homestay can be seen. This photo was taken from a distance using zoom.

After crossing river Sal, I was supposed to walk up to Himalayan Orchard Huts using the trail. Though completely exhausted and sleep-starved, I somehow managed to reach Himalayan Orchard Huts. The moment I reached here, I suddenly started feeling energetic! All my fatigue vanished in the fresh air. I started feeling fresh. And, then came out an elderly couple –Mrs. Snehlata and Mr. Prakash Dhami – the owner of the Himalayan Orchard Huts to receive me.

Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 4/15 by Bee The Musafir
Car or bus will leave you on the main road. From there you have to cross river Sal and walk up a few miles up to reach the Himalayan Orchard Huts homestay.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 5/15 by Bee The Musafir
A traditional welcome by Mrs. Dhami. They gifted me a Himachali topi (cap) and explained the importance of the welcome ritual.

Their daughter Phalguni, the person in-charge of Himalayan Orchard Huts operations and an avid trekker herself, also joined the welcome ‘ceremony’. She was the one who planned and coordinated my stay and further treks.

I was allotted a spacious, well-equipped room. Though I wanted to relax; I preferred to spend time in their garden and balcony before it was dark.

Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 6/15 by Bee The Musafir
Sitting area in front of the bungalow. The pleasant ambience cannot be described in words.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 7/15 by Bee The Musafir
Watching sunset like this was a solace - you are in the company of nature!
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 8/15 by Bee The Musafir
The balcony area of Himalayan Orchard Huts.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 9/15 by Bee The Musafir
Sunset from balcony.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 10/15 by Bee The Musafir
The concept of “back to the nature” of Shri. Prakash Dhami makes Himalayan Orchard Huts homestay the most ideal eco-lodge.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 11/15 by Bee The Musafir
Balle-Balle with Phalguni didi’s son Krishna.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 12/15 by Bee The Musafir
Well-equipped rooms of single and double occupancy are available at budget prices.
Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 13/15 by Bee The Musafir
The side view of the Himalayan Orchard Huts. It has a library, balcony, a fresh water pool, and rest rooms.

I enjoyed the evening in the company of Mother Nature – watching sunset and playing with kids. The cute little kids first started playing cricket. In the very first shot, the ball went down the mountain! Then they started playing football. Again with the first kick, the ball went down!

In the evening, I was called up for dinner. There was one more guest – an English scholar doing research work on ‘Temples and Goddesses of Himalayan region’. She accompanied me. A grand dinner was served. ‘Madhra’, the special dish of Chamba, was new to me. It was very delicious. The pickles made by using local fruits and herbs were ultra-tasty! The best part of the dinner was that it was cooked by the ladies of the house – so it had to be extra-delicious!

Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 14/15 by Bee The Musafir
An elaborate traditional Chamba dinner. “Madhra” and a variety of pickles made of local herbs were served.

From Himalayan Orchard Huts, they organize treks to places like Jhamwar, Manimahesh, Kangra, Mcleodganj, Dharmashala, Panj La and Rulpuli. I picked up Rulpuli trek for next morning. Read: Rulpuli - an off-beat gem of Himachal Pradesh

They arrange solo and group tours, travels and treks under the name Manimahesh Travels.

Photos of The best eco homestay for wanderlusts – the Himalayan Orchard Huts, Chamba 15/15 by Bee The Musafir
Shri. Prakash Chand Dhami, the man who conceptualized and executed the best eco lodge.

Mr. Dhami has interesting anecdotes to tell. He has a vast experience in the domain of eco-tourism. He has a bank of knowledge on the cultural aspects and history of the region. An engineer who left his business at its prime, he is a pioneer of “back to nature” concept in Chamba. Back in 1991, Mr. Dhami left the urban ‘luxuries’ and decided to settle down in the mountains. Visitors, especially the foreign nationals exploring Himachal, use to halt at his home. This sowed the seeds of “homestay” idea and there begin the story which has now turned into a model eco-tourism homestay.

The challenge of maintaining an eco-tourist lodge is preserving the sanctity of natural surroundings with sustainable development, which Mr. Dhami with the help of his family members, has been successful in doing.

Only serious travelers, trekkers and explorers visit this place. There are some places which are one in a million; and then there are places which are once in a lifetime! The Himalayan Orchard Hut in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh should be in everybody’s bucketlist of places to visit at least once in a lifetime.

For me, as an avid traveler and as a nature lover, discovering Himalayan Orchard Huts homestay was a Eureka moment and being there was an accomplishment of year 2017! Thank God we have HIMALAYAN ORCHARD HUTS!

-Bharati Nadkarni is a Pune-based software professional. This article was written on July 24, 2017.


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