My stay at Himalayan Orchard Huts along with my partner has been one of the most memorable holidays ever. With temperatures soaring as high as 50 degrees in cities across the Gangetic belt, the population was scurrying over to the nearby hill stations for some respite. Me and my partner while wanting to do the same, however, did not want to end up at a place that was overcrowded and generic in nature. In our search for an offbeat experience, we landed up at Himalayan Orchard Huts, a cozy homestay nestled among beautiful hills on the outskirts of the main town of Chamba. Surrounded by plum and apricot orchards, hills with plentiful vegetation and pastures, and skirted by the Sal river, the location of this place is perfect for a calm and quiet stay, away from the synthetic world. The beauty and lure of this place is not confined merely to the terrain. Our hosts, the Dhamis, were extremely cordial, warm and welcoming people who treated us like members of their own family, ever remaining true to the spirit of a homestay. The room that we were offered was spacious, cozy and well ventilated. The washroom too was clean and spacious with continuous supply of hot water. The structure of orchard huts is made of wood and clay which lends a refreshing earthy feel to it. One of my favourite pastimes during the stay was to sit in the balcony and behold the pristine beauty of the faraway mountains while indulging in existential talks with my partner. Also, there were the added benefits of a swing and a hammock in the yard, sitting upon which you could stare at the moon peeping from behind the trees in the evening. One of the most wonderful things about this entire experience was the food here. As I was recovering from a phase of overwork that was accompanied by an overdose of junk food and followed promptly by a bout of illness, I was worried about the quality of food which I had to survive upon while travelling. However, the superbly healthy and tasty food that we were offered during our stay in fact assisted my fast recovery. We were served a number of delectable local dishes from the royal cuisine of Chamba. The food here is prepared with organic ingredients grown in farms maintained by the hosts themselves. If one wanted to venture out beyond the comforts of the homestay, one could take short treks into the nearby villages or go sit by the riverside. The people in the area are quite hospitable and helpful as well. Our stay at this serene and calming place offered me and my partner an opportunity to get in touch with our authentic selves and connect at a more intimate and spiritual level. It created lots of happy memories.
I just had the pleasure of a 5night stay - 3 nights at Orchard Hut and 2 nights at Ridgemoor Cottage. I did not want to leave. You could easily spend a week in each place. And I just had a taste of Chamba town! Need to come back.
First you are welcomed like a family member and leave feeling like you are leaving your family behind! Everyone is wonderful and you will not go hungry. FOOD- Food is some of the best I have had anywhere! Can’t begin to list the dishes I loved - too long - but the bitter gourd and the pickled rhododendron dish is my very favourite!
ROOM- so comfy and I had a big room with lots of storage space, great bathroom with hot water for showers. You have your own spot on one of the many porches to soak up the atmosphere.
GROUNDS- the Dhami family pioneered tourism in this area. The homestay has evolved into a very special place. You are surrounded by organic gardens, fruit trees, forest and 49species of birds! You can sit in a swing chair, on the porch or on the yoga deck or lounge in a hammock. Or you can go for a walk and explore the surrounding village.
The path up from the road and across the bridge is accessible for most people - good solid path just take your time if it’s hot.
COTTAGE- Heaven on earth! Truly one of my favourite places I have been. I am a mountain girl at heart and this place is so peaceful. It is surrounded by meadows - shepherds come and go with their goats and sheep and of course the wonderful mountain dogs. Then the views of two Himalayan ranges. You can just hang around here and do day hikes or do a longer hike from a few days to weeks! Next time a longer trek for sure.
Thank you Prakash, Sneh Lata, Didi (Phalguini), Nitin and Maureen. And Pointy! I am so looking forward to returning.
Orchard Hut is a hidden gem nestled deep in the mountains with breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountains. However, to wake up to this celestial landscape you must do a short hike to the homestay accompanied by a porter to carry your bags. Every single step is well worth it in order to wake up to the sounds of nature in a beautiful Himalayan eco-friendly home with all the necessary amenities. The moment I arrived I was warmly greeted by the patriarch Prakash Dami surrounded by his loving family including his wife Sneh, his son Nitin and daughter in law Maureen, his other son Vinayak, his daughter Phalgun and 2 grandchildren Rupash and Krishna. Soon after the family invited me to participate in a traditional welcoming Himalayan ceremony and then presented me with a beautiful wool hat distinctive of the Chamba area. At this point, in my journey I knew I found a new home away from my own! This is a true family business whereby each person contributes their talents in order to make it a HUGE success. Everything the Dhami’s offer from trekking excursions in the Himalayas, to traveling opportunities in India through their travel agency Mani Mahesh, to Indian cuisine, to understanding the Himalayan culture and traditions comes from the heart. Mr. Dhami’s son Nintin and his wife Maureen are world travelers. They both have extensive experience leading adventure seekers in all corners of the world. Their passion for traveling and trekking is contagious and their hospitality is genuine. Their son Vinayak has received his undergraduate study in hospitality and is pursuing a graduate study in business and is an expert trekker leading climbing excursions throughout the Chamba area. His daughter Phanguli and her husband play a critical role in running the family business and their children are a great source of energy that quickly light up any room.
Also, Mr. Dhami’s wife Senah is a food magician! She has taken her knowledge of different ingredients and how their combination works and made it an art. Her large assortment of regional and traditional vegetarian dishes are slowly cooked with rich, flavorful spices under burning wood. Most importantly, Senah cooks from the heart and that is what makes every bite so extraordinarily special. Also, she is so generous she shares her gift of cooking by providing a class to anyone interested in learning the art of Indian cuisine. Moreover, the time I spent with Prakash Dahmi was invaluable. He is a nature enthusiast, environmentalist, a storyteller, and a spiritual soul. I had expressed interest in meditation while there and Mr. Dhami took time to teach me. We had great conversations of the benefits of meditation and how to actually do it. The time and interest he took to further my knowledge was very special. I am so grateful to Mr. Dhami for providing me the opportunity to learn and experience meditation in the sacred peaks of the Himalayas. If you are a nature lover, a foodie, a trekker, or simply someone looking for peace and rejuvenation look no further! Come and experience it ALL at the Himalayan Orchard Hut. Honestly, it’s an experience of a life time which you will treasure always.
A stay at Orchard Huts is a wonderful experience. There is a bit of a hike to the property, but once having arrived, the hike is worth it. The kindness, hospitality and warmth of the Dhami Family is unmatched.
I had room #4 which was large, comfortable with lots of storage space. I appreciated the good lighting for reading in bed, and the availability of a power strip to charge up several devices at once. It would be very easy to live in this room for an extended time, but I was with a group and stayed only three nights.
This room is next to a busy stairway leading to the family quarters as well as the kitchen, which may be difficult for a light sleeper. A better choice would be Room #3, next door. Both rooms share a wide balcony which has ample tables and chairs. Any of the rooms from #1 to #4 would be fine.
As for meals, this is probably the best home-made food in all of India. All organic, much of it is from the family’s own farm, orchard and fields. It is beautifully and lovingly prepared by the Mrs. Dhami and her daughter Didi.
Wi-fi is available using a satellite service, I found it functions best when only a few persons are using it at the same time.
Though hiking is available and many in our group did either the more difficult or the easier hikes, I enjoyed sitting on the veranda and reading while enjoying beautiful views of the Chamba Valley. Mr. Dhami offered a meditation program each morning which I enjoyed very much.
My stay was a 5-star experience in spite of the difficulties of accessibility to the property for a out-of-shape, arthritic 71 year old, especially since it was unseasonably hot in late June.
I will never forget Orchard Huts and the insight to Indian life and culture gained during those three days.
This homestay is really THE complete package. Right from the moment you step out of the car and start the 30 minute trek up to the Dhami home, you know you're in for something special and unique. Pros:- 1) Authentic local Chamba home. You actually get to taste their local cuisine (Pahadi Khana) made with much care by Mrs. Dhami. 2) A very inclusive & warm family - we actually went around their son's marriage n attended their traditional dham. Despite being busy with the celebrations, we felt very well attended to. 3) Mr. Dhami has a lovely library and his knowledge of the Chamba valley, accupressure, palmistry, yoga, meditation is so vast... there is much to learn from him. He also collects some local artistry like Chamba paintings & Chamba rumaal and sells them through an NGO he's involved with. 4) The village trails further up from the home make for fun evenings with a great sunset view and waterfalls. 5) We are extremely thankful to Mr. Dhami for planning our overnight trek to Badi Jhamar.. It was spectacular. The guide was great & managed our naughty 4 year old so well. It was his first Himachal trek. The overnight stay at Ridgemoor Cottage was absolutely great..literally a 360degree view. Cons: 1) The only thing they could work on is the housekeeping in the room. Bathrooms were really neat, clean & spacious. Must be noted here that they were loaded with marriage affairs at that time.
There a'int much to do in Chamba except the Chamunda mandir, Laxminarayan mandir and the museum but this place is an experince in itself. A MUST Himachal experience a true travel enthusiast should'nt miss.