A new concept named ‘Pahadi House’ has evolved in the Chopdiyal village of Uttarakhand. The village was sparsely populated and the old stone and mud houses in the village had been reduced to mere ruins. This was mainly due to the rapid emigration of the inhabitants of the village to other towns and cities owing to the lack of resources in the village and in search of better opportunities.
However, things have changed since this innovative concept of ‘Pahadi House’ was implemented by Abhay Sharma, who is in the rafting business in Rishikesh and his friend Yash Bhandari. The isolated traditional houses of the village have now turned into tourist spots. Tourists from not just India, but all over the world come to live in these houses. The houses have been renovated to give them a traditional look. This is not just helping to preserve the traditional culture of the place, but also providing employment to the people of the village, who don’t have to turn to big cities in search of employment. During the stay, tourists are served the traditional food of the place and they can spend a peaceful time in the beautiful natural environment.
The man behind this whole idea, Abhay Sharma has been in the rafting business along with his comrade Yash Bhandari for years. Abhay actually belongs to Neelkanth in Pauri, while Yash is from Ghansali, Tehri. The two had a resort in Ghattugad, which was completely destroyed in the 2013 disaster. However, they didn’t give up and in May 2014, they began the renovation of these isolated houses to turn them into Pahadi houses. The concept has been a huge success and attracts tourists from all over the world. Around 3000 tourists have visited the Pahadi houses, more than 400 of which are foreigners. According to Abhay Sharma, the whole idea behind the concept of ‘Pahadi House’ is to prevent people from leaving the village, as well as promote tourism in the area.
Here is an interview with Abhay Sharma, to know more about his innovative venture.
Name of your organisation: Pahadi House
Location: Kanatal (Uttarakhand)
Date of establishment: 16 may 2014
Website – www.pahadihouse.com
Social media platforms: www.facebook.com/stayinvillage
Can you tell us about yourself and your experience in Tourism?
I have an experience of 10 years in the tourism industry. I have been in the rafting business in Rishikesh for years. I had a resort in Ghattugad with my friend Yash Bhandari, which was destroyed in the 2013 disaster. So, I have been in the tourism business for quite a long time and have learnt a lot about the industry. I also did lots of community-based programs. I was involved in waterfall clean up with Mysore children and renovated the government school during a community-based program for school children.
The inputs involved in the business of the ‘pahadi house’ are mainly the three most common ones that you need in any kind of business- Money, time and Energy. I would consider my output to be the fame and recognition that I earned through this business. People now know us as ‘Pahadi people’. The concept of the Pahadi House has also been appreciated by the U.K. government. This is a huge achievement for us.
The Pahadi house has emerged as a trend. It has become a great source of income for the people of the village. We are now encouraging the people of the village to renovate their old houses and start their own homestays. People use the Pahadi house as an example and work along the lines to expand this idea. This has promoted tourism in the village. The youth can now earn in their homeland itself, and this acts as a check on the migration to big cities in search of employment opportunities. We are also conserving the traditional culture of the place as well as presenting it to people from all over the world.
Pahadi House Home has won the "Best Host" Award in Homestay Category from Yatra.com
The cause has also been supported by the U.K. government.
What was your vision behind Pahadi House?
Our Resort in Rishikesh (Elephant brook) was washed away due to the cloudburst in 2013. Rather than again pursuing the same business plan we decided to do something that could revive our culture and heritage. Thus Pahadi House was conceived and the world came to know more about our region.
In a short time, we have clients coming from all over the world. This is helping the local community by providing them more employment and business opportunities without moving out of the villages.
We also take care that whole village ecosystem is involved in our project. We procure local grocery, vegetables, fruits and dairy from the locals. We engage locals as our staff also.
We serve local cuisine so give our guests a complete glimpse of Uttarakhand culture.
Did you have any particular reason to choose this region for setting up Pahadi House?
This is fruit growing belt with lot o natural beauty, which gives us an opportunity to serve locally grown food to our guests. Since all food is procured locally, the village economy also gets a boost.
The Pahadi houses are the old renovated buildings made of mainly stone and mud. These were built in the traditional style but were neglected when outward migration started.
Due to lack of maintenance, the houses were reduced to ruins. We renovated these houses preserving the unique traditional style and design of the house.
What are your future goals?
We plan to put together around 10 new Pahadi houses now in next 2 years as we have had good experience with the existing ones and the working of this whole concept is well understood now. We are also planning to introduce a complete Garhwali Cuisine, to help the tourists to get to know about the local culture. We also plan to provide time to time training to our team members, so that we can carry out this venture more efficiently.
We also plan to set up juice and cheese making plants to enhance employment opportunities in our villages.