Sarmoli – Munsiyari Uttarakhand

Sarmoli is a small village situated just a kilometre away from Munsiyari, Uttarakhand. Nestled in the backdrop of the Panchachuli Range and located above the wild Gori Ganga River,  Sarmoli offers captivating views all around.

Sarmoli
Mesmerising Views from a rooftop at Sarmoli Pic Credit: Padmavati Madipalli

The village has gained popularity for rural tourism in the past couple of years, thanks to the loving efforts of Malika Virdi and her husband Theo, who left their city life to settle at Sarmoli, with an aim to develop this village and empower the village folks to be ecologically and financially sustainable. Today the village of Sarmoli has evolved as an ideal rural tourism hotspot offering 14 homestays, each distinct yet part of the natural surroundings.

Learn More about Munsiyari and Sarmoli HERE

Visit Sarmoli to experience its natural pace, stunning mountain views and soak up what the local communities have to offer.

Founder of Maati Sangathan 

malikaMalika Virdi is the name behind Sarmoli’s development in the recent years and with her efforts, Malika has helped the village women to understand their rights and get access to a range of livelihood options besides helping in farming and daily chores. Malika is an M-Phil in Social Work (Delhi University) and this makes her, perhaps, the most highly qualified sarpanch in the country.

Malika was also part of the 8 women team who took the challenging Trans-Himalayan expedition, which was flagged off on 26th January 1997 as part of the Golden Jubilee year of our Independence. They covered thousands of km across India, Bhutan, Nepal and climbed many passes en route to reach the final destination in the Karakoram in Ladakh on 15 August 1997. She is one of the women (‘1000 Women for Peace’) who was also nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

‘Matti Sangathan’ was Malika’s dream and is a local community foundation for women that encourages them to address their day to day life struggles related to earning a livelihood, food security and giving them the confidence to fight back to lead a life free of domestic violence. Malika’s efforts have helped women of Sarmoli fight against domestic violence, alcoholism, adopt higher education and become economic and socially independent by improving agricultural practices. While Malika heads the Homestay Program at Sarmoli village along with Van Panchayat, Mr Ram Narayan has also joined them a few years back and is actively now working together towards Sarmoli’s development.

Under Malika’s guidance, the women make local products and the benefits go back to the village’s development. Having the concept of homestays help them to rent out a part of their homes for tourists and in return gives them a chance to earn some extra money. It’s a responsible model of rural tourism and prevents the construction of hotels and commercial places that would spoil the beauty and ecological balance of the place. Some women are also getting trained to become your travel partner or tourist guides to come along for nearby treks.

Conservation Work in progress at Sarmoli Village Pic Credit: Alamy.com

Munsiyari offers numerous trek options along with some really nice & easy short treks.

  • Mesar Kund (old and new): is also called Maheshwari Kund or Meshar Kund
  • Dhanadhar ridge from where you can get a 360-degree view of the mountains, the Gori River and the valley.
  • Thamari Kund – 3-4 hour trek

    Thamari Kund – Sarmoli, Munsiyari Pic Credit: Sachin Chausali
  • Khalia Top Trek – Via Balanti (Half Day)
    Khalia Top – Via Kalamuni (Same Day Return)
  • Maheshwari Kund Trek – Half Day
  • Nanda Devi Temple Trek – Via ITBP Danadhar Ridge ( 3 km – approx 3-4 Hours)

    Nanda Devi Temple – Sarmoli, Munsiyari Pic Credit: siddhartha das
  • Masterji’s Museum & Darkot Handicraft Village – 3-4 hoursThis Tribal Heritage Museum belongs to Dr. S.S. Pangthi who is fondly known as Masterji. He is a traveller, trekker and has put together interesting collectibles and antiques in his house at Nanasen Village.
  • Trek to Alpine Meadows of Chiplakot Bugyal – 30 km

    Long Treks from Munsiyari
  • Milam Glacier – 8 Days Trek
  • Ralam Glacier – 8 Days Trek
  • Nanda Devi East Base Camp – 8 Days Trek

Visit my travel blog on Munsiyari for details on treks & other adventure activities during your stay at Sarmoli.

View of Panchachuli Peaks from Sarmoli – Pic Credit: Debarshi Das

Thanks to the efforts of Shivya Nath, an incredible traveller and writer, the village locals learnt the art of posting pictures for the world to see and now runs its own Instagram account@VoicesofMunsiari that share amazing pictures, videos and stories about their daily mountain life!

Staying at Sarmoli lets you explore the local culture by being part of the community, savouring the delicious Kumaoni cuisine (brown Manduva Chapatti, Gahat daal, Lingoda Saag and Jhingora Kheer to name a few) and live the village life for a while. You stay would include homemade meals, loving care of the villagers and of-course some precious personal stories shared.

But remember, the Homestays here are not like the typical ones that cater to your whims and fancies. Please be prepared to clean the rooms and wash the dishes yourself including the laundry. Consider it your home away from home and respect the locals.

Sarmoli Homestay Pic Credit: shumei_there

Staying at Sarmoli

Sarmoli Homestay Tariffs: Starts at 1350 per person per day (includes meals)

Contact Person for Booking: Malika Virdi +91-9411194041 (M) 05961-222367 (O) Email: malika.virdi@gmail.com
Mr. Ram Narayan +91-9411194042 Email: ramnarayan.k@gmail.com

Other Stay Options: Forest Rest House (FRH) & KMVN at Munsiyari along with a variety of low – to medium budget hotels in and around Munsiyari are available. For details on Hotels at Munsiyari, click here.

For Other Hotels at Munsiyari CLICK HERE

Directions to Reach Sarmoli Village from Munsiyari: Just after the Women’s Cooperative Bazaar, located on the Madkot Road, take the left uphill dirt road. You shall pass a stream with small waterfalls and then come across a giant old deodar tree and that’s the landmark of the village. With prior bookings, someone from the village will be there to take you further to your place of stay.

Important Word of Advice

  • In the hills, the roads are narrow and the travelling time depends on the weather conditions. Remember to carry adequate food and water for the journey.
  • While travelling to the Himalaya’s it is advisable to carry salt as there are blood-sucking leeches!
  • Sarmoli homestays offer you a chance to ‘live like a local’ for the time you are there. These people open their humble homes for you so please respect their living style and try to understand what is expected of you as a guest. There are limited food options and frequent power cuts. Solar lamps are provided, but remember to charge them.
  • There are no washing machines and fresh sheets will be available every 3rd day! Prepare to wash your clothes and clean your utensils.
  • Try and spend time learning and experiencing their daily life and follow their routine during your stay.
  • If you are travelling for a longer duration, it is good to connect with the local and volunteer for their conservation projects.
  • Spend your time here interacting with the locals, experience the love of a village community. Read the book you have in your backpack, write a journal and just take a break. BREATHE WELL.
  • Plan your trip only if you are prepared to live like them, understand their culture and happy to let go of the comfort luxury all of us are so used to.  

Blogs to Read Before You Go:

Shooting Star – Shivya Nath

Times of India Article

Videos on Maati Sangathan helps you understand how the Maati Foundation helped empower women and went beyond conservation of forests to responsible eco-tourism platform.

Distance Chart:

New Delhi to Munsiyari: 624 km
Nainital to Munsiyari: 300 Kms
Almora to Munsiyari: 192 km
Kathgodam to Pithoragarh: 200 km
Kathgodam to Munsyari: 280 km
Pithoragarh to Munsiyari: 150 km

Road Route Options from Delhi:

Route 1: Delhi – Hapur – Gajrola – Moradabad Bypass – HaldwaniKathgodamBhimtalBhowali – Khairna – Almora – Chitai Temple – Barechina – Dhaulchina – Sheraghat – Udiyari Bend – Thal – Birthi Fall – Kalamuni Top – Munsiyari

Route 2: Delhi – Hapur – Gajrola – Moradabad Bypass – KashipurKaladhungiNainitalBhowali – Khairna – Almora – Chitai Temple – Barechina – Dhaulchina – Sheraghat – Udiyari Bend – Thal – Birthi Fall – Kalamuni Top – Munsiyari

Route 3: Delhi – Hapur – Gajrola – Moradabad Bypass – Kashipur – Kaladhungi – Nainital – Bhowali – Khairna – Almora – KosiSomeshwarKausaniBaijnathGarurBageshwarVijaypurChaukori – Udiyari Bend – Thal – Birthi Fall – Kalamuni Top – Munsiyari

By Rail: Nearest railheads to Munsiyari are Kathgodam  (275 km) and Tanakpur (286 km). One can easily hire taxis and take frequent buses to Munsiyari from here.

8 thoughts on “Sarmoli – Munsiyari Uttarakhand

  1. You have painted an extremely rosy picture of Malika Virdi and her homestay. She doesn’t care shit about her guests and doesn’t even bother to respond to messages, emails nor find out if the guests are comfortable. The food served at the same homestay you have mentioned pics of, serves the most inedible food anyone could have eaten and I have stayed at some beautiful homes with even more lovely people in Uttarakhand and eaten some of the finest kumaoni food.

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    1. Hi Smriti,

      I am indeed surprised to find that your visit to Sarmoli wasn’t what you envisioned it to be. Travel brings with it different experiences and perhaps you would understand that the homestays at Sarmoli are not there merely to attract tourists but offer meaningful eco-tourism and interaction with the local community. Food definitely is not as per the food served at most of the attractive homestays that you must have stayed, but at Sarmoli, they serve what is ideally the simple and rustic daily diet of the people there. I don’t know Malika Virdi personally but she is doing a remarkable job in terms of providing the people of Sarmoli livelihood and reasons to smile and that is what matters in the end.

      I may sound upfront, but next time you visit a homestay please ask the locals on what really do they eat. You will be surprised how different it will be from the food the exotic homestay serves!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with Smriti Agarwal on the above comment! Indeed Malavika cares shit of her guests! She asks you to pay the complete amount for the stay in advance which is non refundable. The stay has no basic necessities for the amount you pay. You don’t even have a room heater when the temperature is around 0 deg and the guests are expected to manage with hot water bags! She gives a very rosy picture of the stays! Make sure you don’t fall for this trap. We have been a avid travelers and have traveled across the length and breadth of India – even to places where you don even have electricity and this has been the worst experience! I am sorry to tell you that Malavika is one of the pathetic hosts! The moment you give the feedback about the stay, you will feel the heat of her atrocity! She stops receiving the calls stating her phone was on silent. Calls you back later just to abuse you!

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    1. Hi Neha, First of its sad to learn about your experience at Sarmoli. For what I know Sarmoli homestays are an ideal destination for the intrepid traveller who seeks to explore the destination at their own pace and stay mindful of the local community.

      Sarmoli is a unique stay option and is definitely unlike other homestays that go beyond to cater to the basic necessities (I mean which real traveller needs the luxury of the house or a hotel while staying in homestays? its the rustic feel that everyone looks out, right?). Its a home away from home and the locals expect you to clean the rooms, wash the utensils and consider taking part in other usual household chores on a daily basis. They even offer clean linen once every 3 days which I think is quite nice.

      Its difficult to forget your earlier experience, but I’ll request you to travel again to Sarmoli and this time please consider staying at Kamla Pandey’s beautiful home to enjoy the surreal essence of this place. Welcome the community and be part of the local chores even if you are there for a short time.

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  3. Hi
    Nice Pictures and nice article

    A friend sent me this link because I am a very frequent visitor to the Sarmoli (Himalayan Ark ) homestays. Infact since 2006. I visit for both work and holidaying. I have seen the growth in the homestays and marvel each time at new things and also how somethings remains the same – the warm people and the incredible place

    Any programme will have its share of disgruntled guests / clients and I guess Sarmoli is no exception but am a bit surprised at the harsh words used and the negative tone. Wow. However not knowing the exact situation that befell you let me tell you my experiences.

    I work and travel to a lot of Himalayan locations, west to east – Ladakh, Spiti, Kaza, Kullu Valley (Tirthan), Chopta, Wan, Roopkund, Auli , Malari , Nepal (Annapoorna region), Sikkim and Arunachal (Eaglenest). And have been doing so for 15 plus years. Needless to say I stay in a lot of places and in many so called homestays . So called because they are hotels and lodges masquerading as homestays, with non resident families and caretaker cooks. Sarmoli is one of the few places where I actually stay with a family. And I enjoy it very much – clean rooms, decent toilets with running hotwater, great food, very warm people and when required a sigri or a hot water bottle and of course sitting around the kitchen fire spinning yarns of both kinds. The Sarmoli homestays are not hotels and hopefully will stay that way. Electricity is not in their hands maybe if people in cities used less they would not just get their share but it would also save the environment.

    Wanted to point out a few things
    @Refunds – Across the tourism sector 100% advances is the norm. As are the deductions on cancellations. Am surprised you say non-refundable. That is not true – in fact I think it is slander. In my years visiting Sarmoli I have met students hosted for free, an artist who couldn’t pay stayed for a few weeks and paid a year or so later (after he became the director of a small museum in Vizag) Sarmoli homestays are a commercial venture but they are not about money

    @inedible food – Surely you are joking – In the 4 different homestays I have stayed (in Sankhdhoora and Sarmoli) the food has been nothing less than awesome – wholesome, fresh and incredibly tasty food – Poori’s with Bhang Chutney. the thick ragi rotis layered on with homemade ghee, red rice and the himalayan pepper (Teemur Saag), the sarson ka saag, kala jeera fried rice and then their tasty packed lunches. I wish more places made such inedible food

    @Abuse and heat – frankly this is nonsense I have made critical observations and in turn have been communicated with in a professional and direct fashion. I suspect the frankness and directness is not to your liking. Maybe people who splash their money around prefer the fake fawning of the types who service shops in Malls and cities and hold their hands out for tips The homestay people aren’t servants, they are professionals, and must be respected as such, doesn’t matter what personal equation you leave with

    I wonder if you actually spent time with any of the people – a walk in the forest with any of the senior guides is an exhilarating experience, like being in a real life Enid Blyton story, literally a thrill a minute, and after so many years I still can’t get enough and writing all this makes me realise I need to go back for more

    Across the Himalaya I am yet to see a community that does so much together – the kids are already better citizens that many of us will ever be, the women who work so hard and let not their troubles spill over. For them money is not everything for them community is everything

    May their food be inedible to the tasteless
    May their warmth be cool to the senseless
    It means more for people like me
    For the quiet shall always we welcome

    Hari

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Ashima, I was randomly searching the net and found this well written article. However, I was surprised to see the pictures taken by me on this blog. And some people who have written negative views do not even know the first thing about rural tourism and homestays. So I think we need to educate them more. I now live in Vizag and invite you to come and explore the city.

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    1. Hi Dipali,
      Thank you for your kind words and I am happy you liked the post. Yes, the pictures have been picked randomly from @VoicesofMunsiari and Flickr accounts; however, due to some technical issues last year, most content including copyright texts has got deleted. I am currently updating each post and being a mom to an active 7-year-old doesn’t give me much time too.

      Many travellers travel to seek luxury and comfort and are not open to adapt to rural or eco-friendly way to travel. Things are opening up in terms of people reconnecting and travelling to places to feel the real world and I am sure in time things will change.
      Do Keep in touch…

      Like

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