The mountains, lush green valley, and the fresh air tingling on your face make you want to stay there. Apart from enriching your mind, body, and soul, it provides insight and experience of the surrounding areas and a glimpse of nature tourism.
Since the last decade, many people, including youngsters, have migrated from the mountains and the Himalayan region for better livelihoods and work opportunities. Sarmoli, a tiny village in the Munsiyari region surrounded by snow-capped Panchachuli peaks, defied the trend.
Whereas the world was moving towards the metropolitan city, Sarmoli was refurnishing itself for nature tourism, and a cluster of homestays has turned the place into a favourite for all tourists.
It was to the credit of Malika Virdi, an active social activist and ardent mountaineer, that the change happened. She is also the founder of Himalayan Ar, which provides luxurious homestays with top-notch services, nature tourism, expeditions, and adventure sports.
Not only that, but she is a calming example of employing native villagers, as well as hospitality and many other things.Mad4India brings another story of nature tourism to India with the Himalayan Ark.
Himalayan Ark: Nature Tourism
In 2004, Malika Virdi founded the Himalayan Ark, a homestay program. The program, which was solely run by women, encouraged visitors to experience the area through the eyes of the locals in exchange for being treated as guests rather than customers.
Apart from relishing the guests, the people of Sarmoli benefit from hosting them. It has given women a chance for change. Amidst the buzz, about 20 families profit from hosting visitors, and an equal number profit from serving as tour guides for the visitors.
Some women have decided to become guides and naturalists due to their extensive knowledge of the area’s flora and fauna. They take pride in educating the guests about the history, cultural setbacks, and knowledge of the place. Natural tourism has made a comeback due to people wanting an escape from city life.
Apart from promoting nature tourism, Malika Virdi has helped the villagers prosper in their lives. She trains them to entertain the host. The Himalayan Ark is entirely run by women and promotes nature tourism. It has boosted the morality of women’s empowerment as well as rural development.
As part of the Himalayan Ark program, the locals have created a variety of itineraries for their visitors, including strolls past the chestnut trees and treks in the alpine region.
The mountains display an echo of beauty and life. Staying at Himalayan Ark is an experience that allows visitors to learn about and explore our region’s rich culture, nature, and heritage through our homestay program.
Like every movement, setting up the Himalayan Ark was not easy for Malika Virdi. As much as she wanted to set up acre-free nature tourism for people travelling to the place, she also wanted the villagers, especially the women, to be aware of their rights. She knew it was not an easy task, but she educated, trained, and empowered them.
Apart from showcasing nature tourism, Himalayan Ark runs a homestay programme to provide world-class services.
Malika Virdi is an inspiration for many women and is an exemplary example of women’s empowerment. They have been catering to hospitality as well as promoting nature tourism and uplifting women and the local natives of the Sarmoli.
Mad4Indian wishes the Himalayan Ark the best of luck on their path.
Feature Image – Himalayan Ark
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