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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Spend a day with a Himalayan family

This is a fascinating cultural exchange where you’ll get an insight into rural Himalayan life…

By Sumit Raj Vashisht
Director of Shimla Walks

Experience life in a traditional Himalayan village, where you’ll explore and dine with a local. The trip starts with a 45-minute drive from Shimla to Dhami, a village that was once a summer hunting ground for British viceroys. There you’ll meet your host, Kunwar Dushyant Singh, who has expert knowledge of the area’s nature, lifestyle and architecture. In fact, he’s spent much of his life in the jungles of Nepal and central India, showing people birds and tigers.

Kunwar will lead you on a nature walk in Dhami, where he’s identified around 80 species of birds, from thrushes to goldfinch and pheasants. The flora varies depending on the time of year, spring is particularly beautiful with alpine flowers while in autumn, you can watch the leaves change colour. There are amazing views of the northern mountains when the sky is clear, you can even see the snow-topped peaks of the Himalayas.

Kunwar will point out key landmarks and tell you all about his family history and life in a farming village. After the walk, you’ll return to Kunwar’s house to eat with his family. The food is home-cooked by his wife, who hails from the royal family of Tikamgarh. She makes typical Indian cuisine from the mountains, including lentil and bread dishes, as well as dumplings cooked in a large iron pan with mustard oil, served with yoghurt.

This is a fascinating cultural exchange where you’ll get an insight into rural Himalayan life, where people survive on agriculture, working in the fields and orchards, keeping cows and buffalos. If someone in the village needs to build a house, the whole community will come out to help and if there’s a marriage, everyone celebrates. It’s a close-knit place and the people are very welcoming.

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Alfred & Sumit Raj Vashisht

Sumit Raj Vashisht is a writer, poet and hiker born in the mountain town of Shimla. His father’s job as a railway engineer took him all over India, but he always dreamed of returning. After studying tourism at Delhi University and cutting his teeth in the capital as a guide, Sumit eventually founded Shimla Walks, which specialises in trekking and heritage  tours of his home town.
Sumit Raj, founder of Shimla Walks