I am so glad to report this paradigm shift amongst travelers who are now preferring a more SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE WAY OF TRAVEL 

Responsible tourism is when the whole community including the environment is benefitted by the tourist activities. It came into being when the locals of certain tourism dominated places and certain environmentalists questioned the tremendous effect of wastes left behind and its direct effect on the surrounding villages.

 

 

A BIG SHOUT OUT TO THESE HANDPICKED 12 RESORTS/HOTELS/LODGES/HOMESTAYS OF NORTH INDIA that took this initiative in hand in different yet effective ways, giving employment, staying organic, preserving natural resources, going solar, diminishing plastic usage, keeping the deep-rooted traditions and celebrate the diverse culture of the place and basically, uplifting the local community where they stand.

Mary budden estate in Binsar, Uttarakhand

Set in the middle Himalaya, just north of Almora in Uttranchal, India, is the Mary Budden estate. One of privately owned estates in the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uttarakhand, in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas. Enjoy understated luxury in the wilderness. Enjoy understated luxury in the wilderness including solar powered lighting, heated running water, harvests rain water and its gardens are abundant with organic produce.

This place is very special to me, as this where my daughter saw her 1st snowfall on 1st of January 2020. When we arrived here, we met with the sweetest estate manager I have ever had the privilege of meeting and one of the first things she requested me was that if I decided to take a bath I should inform her so that to avoid wasting water her people can fill up the cold water in a bucket until the hot water comes out of the taps. At that moment, I just knew I was at the right place.

Jim’s Jungle Retreat, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand

The Retreat is situated in the lush southern forests of Jim Corbett National Park, in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. If you are looking for a stimulating yet relaxing stay in Corbett National Park, then this Retreat is the perfect combination of luxury amidst wilderness and an unforgettable, immersive wildlife experience. One will get a good feeler of their “Search the Tiger and find the Jungle” initiative, which will open your eyes to real problems faced by the reserves to save the tiger and it is applaudable. They have set up an organic nursery to cultivate grasses, trees and other native flora for planting on site and to provide support to the Forest Department in their afforestation efforts. They use solar power for heaters in the rooms and plastic bottles are not found anywhere in the resort. 

When I walked through those pebbled narrow lanes of this jungled resort, I did not realize that the indigenous trees and plants that I could see everywhere were planted about 20 years ago and then the owners just let nature take its course. So much so, that they don’t pick up the fallen branch and leaves and chimpanzees have made those trees their home.

Taj Resort & Spa, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 

Located in the yoga capital of the world, this Taj Resort with its eco-friendly habitat, is designed to not intrude on its premises. It creates a series of alternating spatial experiences that compound its organic feel. The resort is a tribute to the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and the outer Himalayas. The interiors interpret the look and feel of the region and are infused abundantly with local materials found in the nearby villages. The resort helps the local community by purchasing the locally crafted furniture for their rooms. This is one of the finest resorts in Rishikesh, with a blend of nature, luxury and sustainability. I like all of those words in the same sentence and everything about it. I love Rishikesh so much that I have visited it many a times and have seen and inspected (for work) many resorts there. One more trip is on charts to check out this fairly new place in town.

Nimmu House, Leh, Ladakh

Nimmu House is a delightful little sustainable eco-resort at 10,000 feet of altitude, in the heart of Himalayas and located in the traditional village of Nimmoo. It is about 45 minutes from Leh, capital of Ladakh. Considered as the ideal anchor sport for trekkers who want to explore the Himalayan paths or travellers who want to discover the cultural jewels of the region. Contributing to the preservation and valorisation of Ladakhi cultural heritage while reducing its environmental footprint at the same time supporting the local economy through tourism to empower the villagers. Equipped with modern flourishes like solar panels for heated water. I have lived in Nimmoo for more than a year when my father was posted to Ladakh and now I can’t wait to go back and experience this interesting place.

Nubra Eco Lodge, Nubra Valley, Ladakh

A local Ladakhi family are the proud owners of this beautiful eco lodge. For years they have worked on the arid landscape of this cold desert to make it a productive farm. During summers they grow organic vegetable in a garden and have a small green house for the winter. They also have their own wheat and barley fields grown nearby and a few cows and dzos – (a cross between a cow and a yak). Guests can enjoy freshly baked Khambir, which is a local Ladakhi whole wheat bread or a Sour Dough bread with fresh milk and vegetables from their garden. Staying in places like this actually helps promote local tourism, uplifts the community and also helps one understand the traditions and stories of their lives. For me travel is all about that.

Punjabiyat Itmenaan Lodge, Amritsar, Punjab

Set amidst acres of blooming farm land, here you get experience the calmness of the Punjabi countryside and farm life as you stroll the narrow lanes of organically nurtured crops. With farm to table experience, Punjabiyat has kept the essence of local culture, culinary flavours, tranquillity of the farm land alive. They do not believe in working in isolation or without the local communities, because of which they dedicate 10% of their profit for good causes within the community. Most of their purchase is locally grown and most the employees are locals from around the area. They have eliminated chemicals from their orchards and farms and constantly educate the farmer on land degradation problems and how to solve them. 

Itmenaan has a couple of more homestays and lodges spread across North India. And all of them are on my bucket list, especially this one as it showcases the essence of Punjab, just looking at the pictures I can smell the wet soil and picture the yellow mustard smiling and waving as the wind passes through. It automatically takes you back to simpler times. With close proximity to Amritsar a trip to the Golden Temple is a bonus

House of Rohet, Mihirgarh, Rajasthan

This luxurious 9 room boutique hotel is an envoy to everything that is Rajasthan. To complement the rugged beauty of the land, over 100 workmen were employed from the region itself to bring in the local touch. The soft, stylish furnishings have been bought from the Jodhpur region in Rajasthan itself. The village women of Khandi and Haji have created the fireplaces using age old technique of cow dung and clay. Their initiatives like collecting and filtering rain water, recycling draining and putting it to effective use, using solar energy to heat water for guests and above all the land around the hotel has been left empty so that local flora and fauna can thrive.

The love and passion with which this place has been created by Rashmi and Sidharth Rohet is admirable. From every colour to the last door knob, everything has been personally selected by the founders, which you can see when you visit this beautiful property.

Hara House, Bikaner, Rajasthan

India’s FIRST Zero Waste Guesthouse. They believe in positively impacting people and the planet through the travels of the people that visit them by investing 20% of profits into community projects. They provide reusable tote bags to guests to eliminate the need for disposable plastic bags while shopping. Their waste management systems ensure if by any chance plastic is used, it is put back in the system through closed loop recycling in Bikaner. For water Consumption they use grey water (collected from sinks and laundry machine) to clean our floors and flush our toilets. They encourage travellers to bring back all the waste throughout their travel and then they compost it right onsite to help their urban herb garden grow. They upcycle just about everything onsite as well, from creating art from cigarette packets, to crafting pillows and fashion items from left over textiles and foam scraps. 

Hara House is an epitome of experiential travel. Making friends, talking to other guests is so easy here and combine that with the idea that its India’s first zero-waste guesthouse started by Jazzmine Lawton Raine (from Canada) and Manoj Gour. This is the place where change actually happens

Khem Villas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan

Khem Villas is established on the land the founders Usha Singh Rathore, Goverdhan Singh Rathore & Pritam Singh purchased in 1989. They planted indigenous and homegrown trees, created small water bodies and have since converted this vast, open grassland into a natural habitat. Today, it is not uncommon to see jackals, jungle cats, hyenas, desert fox, and crocodiles, within the grasslands and around the luxury camp stead. Having a medical background, Goverdhan started a project around the park with the local people to help save the Tiger. With time it turned into a comprehensive Tiger conservation program unlike any other program in India. This project also helped establish a school, hospital, wood for wood project, biogas, non-formal environment education, legal aid to combat poaching and an anti-poaching sting operation along with other NGO’s.

I am personally in awe of the founders of this place. Khem villas is the kind of intensive change we all want to see in the actions towards protecting India’s National Animal, the Royal Bengal Tiger

SUJAN JAWAI, Jawai Bandh, Rajasthan

Name is derived from Jaisal’s great- great-grandfather, Sardar Bahadur Sujan Singh of Hadali, whose ancestors served as generals and commanders in the Sikh armies in the 17th century and worked closely with Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker to construct the new capital of India in 1911. Jaisal and his wife Anjali opened a unique destination hidden in the rural landscape of Jawai in the Pali district of Rajasthan. A ground-breaking conservation tourism project SUJÁN JAWAI, where leopards roam wild and free, coexisting comfortably with the charismatic communities and has been widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most unique and impactful wilderness destinations. Their family has been pivotal in working conserve and preserve wildlife through filming, monitoring, researching and creating awareness about tigers.

Sujan is an epitome of the phrase “luxury in simplicity”. It is all about the service here, which you may notice when you see people smilingly going about their daily chores. Even in the middle of no where you feel absolutely pampered.

Prakriti AaLay, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

To preserve ecological balance of its beautiful surroundings, the resort has been Intentionally kept free from all vehicular movements. Hence it is accessible through an exciting small trek of around fifty meters, followed by a picturesque foot bridge which connects straight to the resort. The belief and aspects of responsible tourism can be seen and experienced in the making as well as day to day running of Prakriti Aalay. They offer everlasting experiences that will tell the importance of eco systems of which we are all a part of and also showcase the measures they have taken consciously to lighten-up the load.

Dharamshala is the land of his Holi highness, the Dalai Lama. Thanks to the gorgeous views, the clouds passing through and easy approachability, this place is a popular tourist spot. This resort as that getaway in Dharamshala where you get that peace and quiet along with the cultural dose of this little Tibet in India