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Tourism in Uttarakhand’s Darma valley gets homestay boost

Located close to the India-China border, the picturesque Darma valley in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district is abuzz with tourists for the last two months

dehradun Updated: Apr 08, 2018 21:45 IST
BD Kasniyal 
BD Kasniyal 
Hindustan Times
A village in the remote Darma valley in Uttarakhand. (Amit Sah /HT Photo)

Located close to the India-China border, the picturesque Darma valley in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district is abuzz with tourists for the last two months. And the visitors have a different experience – they stay in local villages to get up close and personal with the exotic beauty of the valley.

The concept of homestay is fast picking up in the valley that falls on the tracking route to Panchachuli glacier, thanks to the initiatives of the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), a state government undertaking.

About 125 families in the valley are now providing homestay facility to the visitors. In its efforts to boost tourism, KMVN has given them training and ensured sanitation facilities for the guests.

“On the lines of Pindari, Namik and Sundardhunga track routes of Kumaon region, we have developed homestay facility in the Darma valley villages of Dantu, Dugtu, Baling and Nagling,” said TS Martolia, general manager (tourism), KMVN.

According to Darma valley villagers, a motorable road from the national highway at Tawaghat has been linked up to Dhakar village, about 50 km from the highway.

“We have written to the chief secretary that road links to Sela, Chal, Bonn, Philam and Sipu villages will further boost tourism in the region,” said Sundar Singh Bonal of Bonn village.

“We also want thrust on horticulture and organic farming in high Himalayan villages of Darma to make the valley self-sustainable,” said Manoj Nagnyal, another villager.

The Darma valley with a population of nearly 5000 in 12 tribal villages is 70-km-long from Tawaghat towards the last India-China border post; it gets bifurcated toward the north from Tawaghat, some 17 km from the border town of Dharchula.

“The valley is rich in tribal culture and heritage, and is endowed with snow-covered Himalayan peaks, glaciers, scintillating river views and dense birch forests,” said Nagnyal. “The bark of these trees ware used by sages to write Vedic hymns,” he claimed.

Dharchula and Munsiyari sub-divisions of Pithoragarh district have four tribal valleys -- Drama, Vyans, Chaundas and Johar. Vyans and Johar valleys have been promoted as tourist destinations; homestay tourist facilities have been developed on Munsiyari-Milam track route in Johar valley, and on Chota Kailash-Narayan Ashram track route in Vyans and Chaundas valleys.

“We want our valley to be developed on similar lines to make it tourist-friendly,” said KS Phirmal, a social activist from Drama valley.

Villagers have also urged the state and union governments to revive Indo-Tibetan trade from Gyanema and Chakra marts. In the distant past, tribal traders from Darma and Johar valleys used to reach these marts to trade with their Tibetan counterparts.

“While Vyans and Chaundas valley traders used to trade in Taklakot mart, the Tibetan marts at Chakra and Gyanema were accessed by traders from Johar and Darma valleys,” said Nagnyal.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 21:45 IST