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.
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
Malika 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.
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
- 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)
- 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.
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.
Staying at Sarmoli
Sarmoli Homestay Tariffs: Starts at 1350 per person per day (includes meals)
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:
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.
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 – Haldwani – Kathgodam – Bhimtal – Bhowali – Khairna – Almora – Chitai Temple – Barechina – Dhaulchina – Sheraghat – Udiyari Bend – Thal – Birthi Fall – Kalamuni Top – Munsiyari
Route 2: Delhi – Hapur – Gajrola – Moradabad Bypass – Kashipur – Kaladhungi – Nainital – Bhowali – 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 – Kosi – Someshwar – Kausani – Baijnath – Garur – Bageshwar – Vijaypur – Chaukori – 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.