Shakti is a company operating in the Himalayan region of India. In 2004 it introduced what it calls – and not without good reason – ‘the village experience.’ To reach out-of-the-way monasteries and villages, you trek, river raft, or go by vehicle through breathtaking landscape. The ‘experience’ takes you to various regions, whether it is the Kumaon Village Experience, the Sikkim Village Experience, both 3-4 days, or the 6-7 night Ladakh Village Experience, where the accommodations are comfortable yet still authentic. (Dates for each of these differ.)
In 2007, the company added an intimate luxury lodge, Shakti 360º Leti, which is situated on a stunning mountain spur close to where Nepal, Tibet, and India meet, with mind-blowing views of the Himalayas. In addition to the above, but separately, in August and September the company offers a spectacular 3-day trip along the Shakti Shayok River Journey, part of the old Silk Road, as an option after the Ladakh trip.
INTO THE MOUNTAINS
Most of Shakti’s staff are hired locally and are trained in various fields of hospitality. Visitors are encouraged to join the locals in their everyday activities, thereby helping to generate income for them without compromising their lifestyle. As a result, they do not need to resort to high-volume, high-impact tourism.
Depending on the location, Shakti commissions new buildings that leave only the lightest footprint on their setting or breathe new life into existing, traditional architecture. For 360º Leti it incorporated local building techniques and styles – the dry-stack stone wall is the traditional method of construction. Other than in its offices, Shakti uses sustainable sources of electricity, mostly solar.
The company has set up a rainwater-harvesting project for a widow in one of the villages that is being replicated in the other areas it operates in. Shakti works with the villagers, some of whom learn from working on these projects and then take the initiative elsewhere.
Shakti has helped set up and supports a local group of traditional Kumaoni dancers. By performing for visitors they have been allowed to sustain their skill, as well as to train younger members.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“Minimizing our negative impact on the culturally and ecologically sensitive areas where we work is a central tenet of Shakti’s philosophy. As well as making a direct contribution ourselves, we encourage our guests to adhere to our written Code of Conduct. We believe that, in this way, we can all support each other in securing the future of these sublime regions and their inhabitants.”