Rest Houses of Himachal Pradesh: A Perfect Place for Digital Nomads

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Travelling is an integral part of my life. It acts as an elixir. Travelling has helped me evolve as a person. For me travelling is meeting people, eating with them, knowing their culture, staying at homestays, luxury resorts, hotels and creating memories that stays for lifelong.
By IMTIAZ ULLAH

As travelling is slowly but surely kicking in post pandemic, the social media is buzzing with concepts like work from hills, work from mountains. These are coming up in wake of the new normal and as an alternative to Work From Home concept. In a nutshell, work from home has given impetus to the concept of Digital Nomad. The world has now become our Workplace, the most important requirement is good internet connectivity. This also will give rise to affordable places to stay and also long duration stay.

HOW IMPORTANT IS ACCOMODATION FOR YOU DURING TRAVEL

The idea of accommodation varies from person to person. For some, it means staying very close to nature like eco stays, homestays etc, some people would like to splurge in a luxury resort, beach resort and some would like to enjoy the service of a luxury five star hotel. You cannot say which one is a better option. It is purely a personal choice.

PWD Guest House at Barot. Image: Suraj Dutta

The state of Himachal Pradesh has always been very close to my heart. I have travelled extensively across this state. During the years of travelling, I have stayed at eco stays, homestays, luxury hotels, resorts etc. But my personal preference has always been the guest houses run by Himachal Tourism or the FRHs. In today’s scenario i.e Work From Home, the FRH and guest houses can be a very good alternate.

Many of our readers, friends and fellow travellers have asked me about the best places to stay in Himachal. To these questions, I say there cannot be a thumb rule. “You may not like what I may like” so before giving a recommendation I always try to understand a traveller’s mindset and preference.

To give one example, one of my friends from Assam, who was travelling to Himachal with his family for the first time asked me about a good place to stay in Manali. Without asking any further questions, I recommended a homestay owned by my friend which is a perfect place for me. On reaching there, my friend called me saying, “I was expecting a luxury hotel or a resort but this has turned out to be completely different”. I had to convince him of the excellent service and the place of location. But ultimately, he liked his stay and had a wonderful experience.

Through this blog, I will provide a guide to the FRH, HPWD and HPTDC guest houses. I will also present a photo gallery of various guest houses that I have come across during the course of my travel across Himachal Pradesh.

Forest Rest House at Multhan. Image: Suraj Dutta

 

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THESE GUEST HOUSES

Don’t expect something extraordinary or fancy in these guest houses. But what sets them apart from regular accomodation is their location and the scenic beauty. If you are seeking solitude and tranquility these are perfect for your stay.

These are my personal favourite because I always like to stay away from the regular humdrum of the town. I love to live close to nature and spend time with the locals. This provides a peek into their regular livelihood and culture. If you have similar preference then you can definitely head to such guest houses. But if your preferences are different, please refrain yourself from booking a stay at such guest houses.

Forest Rest House at Mandi. Image: Suraj Dutta

PURPOSE OF THESE GUEST HOUSES

These guest houses mostly cater to visiting officials and politicians. Hence, getting a room is not always assured. But if a room is available you can definitely stay here. Another important thing to note here is – as these guest houses are primarily meant for government officials, there is every possibility that your confirmed booking is also cancelled if some officials arrive to stay. Government officials will always get preference over common travellers.

HOW ABOUT FOOD

It is always advisable to carry your own raw vegetable, meat to the guest houses. The prospect of getting cooked food solely depends on the wish of the caretaker. You can pay a little extra to the caretaker to cook for you. I must tell you I have tasted some of the tastiest food prepared by the caretakers. Very simple yet very tasty. If the caretaker refuses to cook, you will have to find another place to eat and if the place is very remote you have to rely on anything that is handy with you or readily available in the local shops.

Forest Rest House at Rirkmar. Image: Imtiaz Ullah

HOW SAFE ARE THESE GUEST HOUSES

If you are a couple, travelling with your spouse or any other ladies, then please check out how remote the area really is. I am not saying that these places are unsafe but it can definitely make some people uncomfortable. Just adding it as a point here because it is definitely something to consider beforehand. Moreover depending on the remoteness of these places, phone and internet connectivity can be a concern. Please be mindful of this.
To mention a real time incident from the Janjheli HPWD guest house. In one of my stays here, one night, some of the local people were drinking at the dining room and were considerably high. As soon as we entered the room to have our food, they passed some comments on my wife, they also tried to eat from our cooked mutton. When we resisted they caught up a scuffle with us and ultimately, we had to complain to the local administration and it was sorted. Please note- this is the only bad experience during years of my travel in Himachal. So please refrain from forming judgement on the basis of this. The entire state of Himachal is safe for travellers, solo travellers and even women travellers.

HOW TO BOOK FOREST REST HOUSES

Step 1: Visit https://himachalecotourism.org/
Step 2: Click on the book online option and see the available rest houses in any particular region.
Step 3: Choose the rest house you wish to book.
Step 4: Choose number of guests and number of rooms, you wish to book and click on check availability.
Step 5: If rooms are available, choose the number of rooms and click on “book now”.
Step 6: Fill out your details and make the payment online to confirm your booking.
* The Khajji Cottage, Khajjiar can be booked by visiting: http://hptdc.in/index.php/the-khajji-cottage-khajjiar-devdar-hotel/

PWD Guest House at Janjehli. Image: Imtiaz Ullah

CONTACT OFFICIALS DIRECTLY

PWD Rest Houses or Circuit Houses can be booked by contacting the booking official of the area you are visiting or also calling the SDM office. You can get in touch with them over the phone, or if you are travelling, then you can directly go to the office and book there. After checking the availability, the PWD office will issue you a slip, which you will need to handover to the caretaker/chowkidar at the rest house. Getting the booking in PWD Rest Houses over the phone is a bit tricky and time-consuming at times. Pls follow the link below to get the list of PWD rest houses in Himachal Pradesh with contact number of the concerned officer incharge for booking.
http://hppwd.gov.in/rest%20houses.htm

Imtiaz Ullah is a Corporate Attorney, Travel Writer with The Traveller Trails and also acts as an advisory member of NGO- Sarvahitey. He is the founder of travel website- www.nomadlawyer.org His travel philosophy is exploring new places, meeting new people, knowing the culture, eating like a local, all with a full time job. He always believes in the idea- “Don’t just be a traveller, but a Responsible one”. He is involved with various projects that aims at upliftment of the society and also promotes responsible and volunteer tourism. According to his words, “Mother nature has given us beautiful places to explore. It’s our duty to payback”.
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