Shivya Nath was accustomed to the ways and lives of India’s hill stations. A famous travel blogger and all-round globetrotter, she didn’t expect her next destination to be any different from the previous Himalayan towns, but boy, was she wrong. When she found her way to Sarmoli, a picturesque village in the Munsiari district of Uttarakhand, she knew it was unlike any she had visited before. Amidst the snow-capped mountains, green fields and wispy clouds, lay a seemingly rural village that had broken all preconceived notions of the rural-urban divide, modernising without compromising on cultural traditions.
Women led hiking tours, home-stays, local enterprises and their own homes, while elsewhere locals ran 20 kilometre marathons climbing an altitude of 8000 feet. The village had workshops in yoga, bird watching and even the workings of technology and Wikipedia - all initiated by the work of avid mountaineer Malika Virdi - as a part of their annual summer week-long Himal Kalasutra Festival.
Inspired by the enthralling atmosphere and enterprising locals, Shivya set up an Instagram account, @VoicesofMunsiari, in an attempt to share the incredible stories and lives of Sarmoli’s residents. Despite limited connectivity, technological advancement and a language barrier, the villagers took to the Instagram quickly and with as much enthusiasm as the rest of the world did in return.
“We are the locals of Munsiari. These are our mountains, our forests, our way of life. These are our stories,” reads their Instagram bio. A beautiful feed full of images of snowy mountains, diverse species of birds, everyday activities and even an adorable little Himalayan weasel - the people of Munsiari telling their own stories, showcasing the very best of their home, in their own way.
Shivya and Malika crowdsourced more smartphones from Shivya’s amazing readers in order to get more locals online, and as she tells Business Insider, “following a photography workshop in the village this April, we hope to do a photo/Instagram exhibition, showcasing the work of budding local photographers to potentially create an alternate income stream to fund a new outdoor education programme.”
Scroll down to see some of the lovely images posted by the people of Munsiari. Click here to read Shivya Nath’s full blog post about her trip. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates. You can find out more about Munsiari, how you can visit and all it has to offer on its website.