Government hotels in Uttarakhand by KMVN and GMVN

Uttarakhand is divided into two geo-political regions — Gharwal and Kumaon. The official/govt bodies that promote tourism in each region are Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN).

Both agencies maintain a couple of tourist rest houses and hotels in each region. This posts compares the hotel offerings of the two govt agencies.

Point of comparison KMVN GMVN
Region Kumaon Gharhwal
Condition Variable (usually good) Variable (No clue)
Availability checker
Location on map

Common map for both

The locations of the hotels are laid out on this custom Google Map. See screenshots below.

GMVN hotels in Gharhwal:GMVN hotels on a mapKMVN hotels in Kumaon:

KMVN hotels on a map

Into the Wild

Compilation of YouTube channels on primitive skills

And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.” ~ Jon Krakauer.

Since some time, the hobbyists and the thrill seekers have been showcasing their primitive skills big time on YouTube. Their otherwise silent videos pack quite a punch. For those of us who are into outdoors, we all have fantasized about living as a cave man, surviving off the Earth, relying only on the nature and our sense.

I am sharing a few popular YouTube channels on survival skills, primitive technologies, food foraging, shelter construction, and such. Go ahead and vicariously live your dream, for now, by viewing these channels. If you get into the trade, do share your channel in the comments below. Happy viewing!


Image attribution: “Into the wild” by Chris Eilbeck is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Why DTC and what is the approach?

Travel domain has much scattered content today. While we have tons of content, it is not dynamic, user-friendly, available on-demand, search optimized, and does not hand-hold the user.

Being a content aficionado, a travel enthusiast, and a content professional, the lack of content initiatives made me create DTC.


DTC platform provides next-level content by collating, compiling, and processing the existing content, and to come up with different presentations styles that allow for better content consumption depending on the nature of the content. The idea is to produce and share content that allows for efficient consumption, metadata-driven filtering, use-case based gradual exposure, automation, user-friendly presentation, and so on.

I know, I know! The big words make it sound too much to ask for. In simpler words, DTC strives to make travel content consumable with minimum effort.

For more details, see the DTC mission.


To achieve the above, I am open to crowd-sourcing and collaborating with a select few folks. Contact me if you understand the above or better yet, have indulged in the above or if you have a content business and can offer meaningful content leadership opportunities.

My travel diaries and community contributions

My photographs on Flickr. The album includes thousands of images available under the various Creative Commons (CC) licenses.
Flickr profile banner[Pro tip: Know these best practices to provide attribution for CC images, if you intend to use any.]

Almost 3k photos, 2K geo-tagged photos, 277K views, 455 tags, and 48 followers.

My travel video channel on YouTube. It offers raw footage to share the factual information about trail or road conditions, treks, interactions with locals, and video reviews of hotels/places/activities. I hope it helps other people make informed decisions or just do their share of arm-chair travel 🙂
Youtube travel channel banner

Close to 100 subscribers (soon), ~50k video views, and 150+ videos.

My forum discussions on Indiamike. Browse through my various engagements and contributions on the travel forums — long-form travelogues, bite-sized answers, road conditions updates, very detailed logistics info, and so on.

I am inactive on other some other communities like BCMTouring and DevilonWheels.
Ashish's Indiamike travel forum profile link Here’s requesting the readers to join some such community and give back to the community as and when you can.

Almost 800 posts with over a quarter million views.

This DTC blog. It hosts detailed information, how-to, opinions and observations, and compilations on the various travel-related topics. Also, see the corresponding DTC Facebook page.
Delhi Trekker's Club Facebook page

GPS tracks. I upload the trails and routes of my treks and road trips on Wikiloc. Use the info, to plan and estimate better and to discover new tracks.
Wikiloc profile with GPS trailsMore than a dozen of my Wikiloc trails are also displayed on Google Earth. Read this Google blog about the feature and how to access such trails in Google Earth.

Trailrank of ~250. Uploaded 25+ trails. Viewed 600+ times.

Google Maps contributions. I am a Level 7 Local Guide on Google Maps. I contribute reviews of various POIs and provide answers to queries.
Google maps local guide profile link

Answers 1000+    Places reviews 125+   Photo views 1 million+   Review views 10k+

Book Himachal Pradesh’s Forest Rest Houses Online

Himachal Pradesh’s two-third area is under forest cover. The forests provide sustenance to locals, weather buffering, tourism opportunities, wildlife preservation, and so on. To keep a watch over the forest resources, the state forest dept has always moved its personnel across the length and width of the state. The dept has a large network of inspection huts and rest houses that act as temporary accommodation for the staff.

Recently, the HP Forest Dept has created an Ecotourism society to focus on, amongst many things, livelihood generation through sensitive and meaningful tourism. The society also allows online booking of some of the rest houses. Note that all forest dept rest houses can be booked (conditions apply*) by reaching out to the booking offices.Himachal ecotourism website online booking option


Q. How do I book?

  1. Visit Click Book Online.
  2. Click Select Destination. Zero-in on a region/circuit.
  3. Provide dates. Click Check Availability. The available options are displayed along with tariff.

Q. What is the typical tariff like?
Rs. 480 to Rs. 1000. A few outliers are beyond this range.

Q. How do I find out the quality of the accommodation?

  1. When you see list of available options on the above step, Click More Info. You can read about the available facilities, see photographs of the place, and locate the place on a map. For example, see the More Info page of Prashar Lake FRH.
  2. Check online blogs for experiences of past visitors.
  3. Look for reviews of such places on travel websites like Tripadvisor.
  4. Look for geo-tagged photos on Google Maps or Google Earth, or just try a Google Image search.

Q. What amenities will be available at the rest house?
Typical facilities are decent parking, amazing location, clean bed, not-so-clean quilt, OKish bathroom and toilets, caretaker, electricity, and paid-for basic food.

Q. What are the related activities that can be done?
Relax’ orchard trip if a fruit plantation is nearby and the owners allow it; trekking; cultural explorations; and assimilating with locals and absorbing their culture.

Q. How to reach any of the rest houses?
Take public transport or drive down. These offbeat places require changeovers to reach. The last mile connectivity may be served through private taxis or on foot. Research/inquire in advance. Personal vehicle can go as far as rough road permits. Road conditions depend on the season.


Q. Whom to call in case help is required?
Nobody! Not to say that the forest dept officials are not accessible but you are choosing a secluded spot that offers serenity over luxuries. It is remote. They are charging peanuts. Such areas may not have good connectivity, including road, electricity, mobile, and Internet. By saying call nobody, I mean that go ahead and enjoy the solitude to the extent you can. When it goes overboard, return to the civilization as well. But do not call anybody, until of course it is a life threatening situation.

  • Do not call, if the geyser doesn’t work. The caretaker will provide hot water in a bucket.
  • Do not call, if you are out of fuel. You should have calculated, got a full tank when you can. Now seek local help.
  • Do not call, when you encounter wildlife. Understand the risks, research about the wildlife in the area, do not venture too far alone. Beyond everything, know that such things happen to local folks all the time and just bear it!
  • Do not call, when you face bad service! The same caretaker must have received 5-star rating from some other folks. Either those were accommodating or they did stuck a chord with the caretaker. Either ways, his job is permanent and we travelers are transient. So don’t complain and either learn the trick of stricking a rapport or quietly move on.
  • Do call when anything gets out of hand.
  • Do call when faced with a life and death situation.
  • Do call when a party is stuck due to inclemental weather conditions.
  • Do call when health of the children or the elderly folks deteriorate.

Call the appropriate local forest office or the DFO at the contact numbers provided at or local police helpline. Save a few local numbers before traveling to a remote area.


Q. What is the cancellation policy?
100% refund if traveler cancels 3 days in advance. No refunds thereafter. When the dept cancels due to any ‘official exigency’, they provide alternative options during same dates, same rest house at different dates, full refund, accommodation in a nearby hotel, or an adjustment of money in any activities like trekking.

Q. What are the things to know before booking?

  • Do not expect good facilities. Be happy if you get them.
  • Drinking, non-veg food, bonfires, etc. are not allowed.
  • Local caretaker can be eccentric and you’ll have to find a way around it.
  • Food may not be available at rest house. If available, it’ll be basic and has to be paid for.
  • People of opposite genders may not share same rooms.
  • Electricity availability can be an issue.
  • Trust the locals about weather. If they suggest leaving the place, don’t take chances.
  • Public transport may be flaky or uncertain. One may get stuck if one doesn’t do their due diligence and check twice for options and timings.

Q. At what locations (on a map), can the rest houses be booked online?
If you make your travel plans using a map, then see the available options laid out on HP map. I’ve created it using Google MyMaps and is updated till March 2018. If you notice anything amiss, please leave a comment. Some rest house are not present on the maps, so I’ve added the village bus stop to the map (directions are easiest to get from here). The map is shared here.
Himachal forest rest houses for available online booking.png

Share your experiences of Himachal forest rest houses. Share photos to show the quality of the accommodation.

Packing checklist for traveling, trekking, and road trips

For your average treks and road trips, I am sharing my packing checklist. Follow the list and be assured to have a good time! No more panicking with last-minute preparation or preoccupation with the what-to-pack thoughts. Adjust the quantity of the listed items according to your needs.

See it at

Packing dry food on trek

Packing dry food on trek

Don’t pack it all: Use your judgement call because for some purposes and some weathers, the checklist may be an overkill.
Pack different: Do your due diligence and don’t just rely on my checklist, especially if you have unique needs.

Either way, do comment below and let me know what makes it to your backpack.

A map of forts in Maharashtra for trekkers near Western Ghats

The smart folks at trekshitiz created this compilation of forts in Maharashtra. I’ve laid them all on this Google Map for ease of reference and planning.

List of forts for trekking in Maharashtra and Western Ghats.

Happy trekking in the Western Ghats/Sahyadris.

Share your trek stories in the comments below.