The Saryu and PIndar Valleys


The villages in the remote Saryu and Pindar Valleys are relatively large and self-contained. Village life is dynamic: people are highly educated and aware of the outside world - many having worked elsewhere. Farming is the mainstay of the communities, supplemented by traditional skills (ringal bamboo basket-work, weaving, honey production, woollen carpets). 

The villages are spread out along the gentler middle slopes of the upper valley, high above the Saryu river. Supi, Khal Jhuni, Jhuni and Karmi villages each have a guesthouse, and our tented camp lies on the ridge separating the two Valleys, at Jaikuni Bhugiyal. In the Pindar Valley, the charming hillside village of Dhur, which lies above the Pindar river, is surrounded by terraced fields, waterfalls, rhododendron forest and open pastures. The high Himalaya massif rises up beyond the Pindar river, allowing unrivalled views of the snow-capped peaks from Dhur and the Chiltha-Jaikuni ridge.

The villages are all isolated. but linked by well-used trails. Until recently, access was by walking or mule. Since 2008, un-surfaced feeder roads have been built from Munnar to Supi and Tarsal, from Song to Karmi and from Kapkot to Dhur. These roads are subject to closure during the monsoon rains. Mains electricity is available in many villages but Khal Jhuni and Jhuni rely on electricity from a community-run hydro-power scheme at Bhadradhunga.

Out-migration to earn money is common but the people love their villages. They are proud to welcome outsiders and keen to let them savour their traditional way of life, in keeping with the traditional Hindi saying Athithi devo bharwa ('A guest is a God in my house'). Indeed, the people of the upper valley are known as Dhanpuris, with a reputation for generosity (dhan means giving in Hindi). Apart from Kumaoni and Hindi, they speak their local language of Dhanpur.

Saryu & Pindar Valleys, India

Community Organisation

Gram Paryatan Samitis (GPSs)

Each VTE, set up by Village Ways with the local community, has a democratically-elected GPS. These include a President, Treasurer and Secretary, as well as non-executive members. As far as possible they have reasonable representation by women. The GPSs were responsible for renovating the guesthouses and managing them under a 30 year agreement with Village Ways. The GPSs are trained by Village Ways. They allocate responsibility for day-to-day management of the guesthouse on a rotating system, so that all members take a share in the work and benefits. The GPSs invoice Village Ways for the costs of guest stays, according to mutually agreed rates, and payments are made to their bank accounts. A 10% deduction is made off each guest-night to refund the initial 60% loan advanced by Village Ways. Similar systems apply to the cooperative societies that manage the UPASaC village enterprises in Karmi and Dhur.

The Saryu/Pindar Committees

Village/ Community

Committee formed

First Village Ways Guests
















Khal Jhuni




Self-reliant Cooperative Societies

With UPASaC (see below), we set up cooperative societies that are registered in Bageshwar. The ‘Saryu Valley Tourism Cooperative’ covers the Saryu VTEs and the ‘Maa Bhagwati Chilta Cooperative Society’ covers Karmi and Dhur. Each VTE has two members on the Boards, which meet every 3 months. The cooperatives’ roles are mainly diplomacy, coordination and linkage with other agencies.

UPASaC Partners

The Uttarakhand Livelihoods Improvement Project for the Himalayas (popularly known as ‘Aajeevika’), aimed to improve livelihoods of poor, remote communities in several districts of Uttarakhand, under funding by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Uttarakhand Parvatiya Aajeevika Sanverdhan Company (UPASaC) was formed as Venture Capital Company under the aegis of the State government. UPASaC, registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act (1956), supports and nurtures entrepreneurship within communities to alleviate poverty. It also creates innovative financial tools that will support community institutions in developing networks. These community institutions link with the formal financial institutions, to organise profitable, equitable and sustainable businesses that will have positive social, gender and environmental impacts in the project villages, which include Bageshwar and Almora districts.

UPASaC had already been working in the upper Saryu Valley, encouraging entrepreneurship in villages. Therefore Village Ways and UPASaC agreed to collaborate as partners. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on July 18th 2008, under which Village Ways and UPASaC agreed jointly to initiate a community-based tourism project in the Saryu Valley and collaborate in establishing community-owned guest houses.

Initially, Village Ways sponsored a guesthouse in Supi village and UPASaC similarly developed the one in Jhuni village. Overall, Village Ways was responsible for the marketing, managing and monitoring of the enterprise and in linking it to the existing Binsar VTEs. UPASaC funded the Jhuni house, contributed funds to Jakuni camp and jointly funded training for villagers. UPASaC also continues to encourage handicraft enterprises to add value to the guests’ experience of staying in this remote and unspoilt valley.

UPASaC developed guesthouses in Karmi and Dhur with the villagers, managed by cooperative societies, and in 2012, arranged for Village Ways to take over supervision and marketing of these houses.

We believe this is an innovative example of a social enterprise company collaborating with an imaginative, State government-sponsored and internationally-funded development project.




The Saryu & Pindar valleys have a diversity of habitats for wildlife, linked to the different elevation zones and aspects that range from the bed of the Saryu river at 1,600 m, through the farmlands of the main villages (1,800 to 2,300 m) to the prominent Chiltha-Jakuni mountain ridge (3,000 t0 3,150 m). Birdlife is plentiful and a quiet sit with binoculars can be well-rewarded. The species to be seen will, to some extent depend on the season, the following lists are from observations during April1.

 As well as birds, there are numbers of mammal species to be observed, such as porcupine, jackal (at dusk), lizards, abundant vividly coloured butterflies (especially along the river) and various insects. At higher elevations you may see black-faced langur, macaque (locally referred to as red-faced monkey), mountain goat, wild boar, porcupine and barking deer.

Saryu River Valley (1,500 to 1,800m)

 Along the river one can find the yellow flowers of Primula edgeworthii and Piptanthus nepalensis.

 The main bird species spotted include:

White-Capped Redstart

White-Crowned Forktail

Red Vended Bulbul

Crested Serpent Eagle.

Blue-Capped Redstart

Fish Eagle

Plumbeous Water Redstart

Nepal House Martin

White-Throated Kingfisher

Himalayan Griffon

Blue Whistling Thrush

Yellow-Billed Blue Whistling Thrush

Cinerous Vulture

Mountain Bulbul

Stripe-Throated Yukina

White Throated Bulbul

Green-Backed Tit

White-Capped Water Redstart

Black-Throated Tit




Supi-Jhuni Farmlands (1,800 to 2,300 m)

 Many birds can be seen within the villages and in the terraced cropped lands, as well as the memorable sight of Griffon Falcons soaring in the sky above. Troops of macaques (locally referred to as red-faced monkey) may be seen. Prominent trees are Alnus nepalensis (alders: planted along field boundaries), Aesculus indica (Indian chestnut)and Quercus incana (evergreen oak), and wildflowers are prominent (eg: Potentilla sp, Primula denticulate).

Bird species observed include:

Lammergeier Vulture

Short-Toed Snake Eagle

Common Kestrel

Small Serpent Eagle

Himalayan Griffon

Himalayan Bulbul

Eurasian Griffon

White Cheeked Bulbul


Various Wheatear Species

Blue Whistling Thrush

Blyth’s Kingfisher

White-Browed Short Wing

Common Stonechat

Common Myna

Streaked Laughing Thrush

House Sparrow

Long Tailed Shrike

Large Billed Crow

Verditer Flycatcher

Oriental Turtle Dove

Spotted Forktail

Spotted Dove

Greater Coucal

Black Drongo

Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch

Common Hoopoe

Sunbird Species

Yellow Breasted Greenfinch

Asian Brown Flycatcher..


Chiltha –Jaikuni Ridge (3,000 to 3,150 m)

A different range of species can be seen in the oak (Quercus incana)-Lyonia ovalifolia-rhododendron forests, open alpine grasslands and deodar woodlands along the ridge. Plant species include Rhodedendron arboruem (red); R. campanulatum (white); R. hodgsonii (red); Fragaria nubicola (akin to alpine strawberry) clothes some grassy areas; Primula edgeworthii; Piptanthus nepalensis (yellow flowers by streams) and the delicate pink Begonia ciliata flowers among the rocks. The rhododendrons bloom from March to April.

Black-faced langur, macaque (red-faced monkey), mountain goat and barking deer have been spotted. Wild boar, porcupine and leopard live here but are less likely to be seen.

The main birds to be seen include:

Yellow-Billed Blue Magpie

Small Nilvata

Streak Throated Woodpecker

Himalayan Griffon

Eurasian Griffon

Kashmir Flycatcher

Lesser Kestrel

Black-Headed Jay

Black Drongo

Sclater’s Monal (Himalayan Pheasant)


Pindar Valley (2,000-3,000 m)

The northwest-facing slopes of the Pindar Valley, from Dhur village up to Dhakuri Top, are cooler and more moist than the southeast-facing slopes of the Saryu Valley. Dense stands of oak (Quercus incana) and deodar (Cedrus deodar) clothe the steep hillside, including many majestic deodars that reach 40m tall. Lichens thrive in the cool, moist environment. Higher upslope there are open, grassy bhugiyals, with alpine strawberries (Fragaria nubicola) in season (June).

Birds of Supi: Supplementary List

The following birds were sighted around Supi in February 2014 by Arjun Kapur:

Eurasian Wryneck

Jynx torquilla

Yellow-crowned Woodpecker

Dendrocopus mahrattensis

Brown-fronted Woodpecker

Dendrocopus auriceps

Great Barbet

Megalaima virens

Common Hoopoe

Upapa epops

Common Hawk Cuckoo

Hierococcyx varius

Greater Coucal

Centropuo sinensis

Slated-headed Parakeet

Psittacula himalayana

Plum-headed Parakeet

Psittacula cyanocephala

Black Kite

Milvus migrans

Himalayan Griffon Vulture

Gyps himlayensis

Cinerous Vulture

Aegypius monachus

Black Eagle

Lotinaetus malayensis

Common Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Bay-backed Shrike

Lanius vittatus

Grey-backed Shrike

Lanius tephronotus

Black-headed Jay

Garrulus lancelotus

Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrush

Garrulus variegatus

Yellow-billed Blue Magpie

Urocissa flavirostris

Common Raven

Corvus corax

Large-billed Crow

Corvus macrorhynchos

Blue Whistling Thrush

Myophonus caeruleus

Golden Bush Robin

Tarsiges chrysaeus

Blue-capped Redstart

Phoenicurus caeruleocephalus

Blue-fronted Redstart

Phoenicurus frontalis

White-capped Water redstart

Chaimasrornis leucocephalus

Grey Bushchat

Saxicola ferrea

Common Myna

Acridothenes tristis

White-tailed Nuthatch

Sitta himalayensis

Bar-tailed tree Creeper

Certhia himalayensis

Green-backed Tit

Parus monticolus

Great Tit

Parus major

Spot Wing Tit

Parus melanolophus

Black-cored Tit

Parus xanthogenys

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Himalayan Bulbul

Pycnonotus leacogenys

Red-vented Bulbul

Pycnonotus cafes

Grey-headed Warbler

Seiceruis xanthoschistos

Rufus Sebia

Heterophasia capistrata

Russet Sparrow

Passer rutilans


1 Observed by Nicky Jenner & Sarah Vaugton, guide trainers..