Soulitude in the Himalayas: Responsible Tourism Practices

26 May, 2022

Conscious Luxury is to use just what one may need,

Anything more is just greed.


– Manish Chandra

An eye on conservation of nature, preserving local culture and providing economic support to the local community is an integral part of Soulitude’s ethos. An enduring human touch with excellent and sufficiently unobtrusive hospitality is one of the main reasons for travellers to love this place.

The structures have been designed to sit lightly on the land without disturbing the natural systems. Existing rocks & trees were not disturbed and are aesthetically blended to enhance the interiors and exteriors. The Main House was designed around an old Walnut tree, so that it was not disturbed during the construction, and it now defines the character of the property. Several rooms have been adorned with ‘upcycled’ materials & furniture. Soulitude has received “Healthy Building” certification by Syenergy Environics for subtle energy optimization & radiation management.

Soulitude provides a genuine farm-to-table experience for guests with most of what is consumed grown organically, while the rest is sourced from nearby farms and local markets – 50% sourced within a 10 km radius and almost 100% sourced within a 40 km radius. The menus are planned around the availability of seasonal produce. Soulitude makes their own juices, jams, pickles, dals, bread and biscuits that are served to guests and individualised menu choices are offered instead of extensive buffet spreads, to reduce food wastage.

The staff at Soulitude is local and have had no hospitality experience but have trained on a multi-disciplinary basis. Village Walks that enable interaction with the community and support local crafts are conducted. The walk traverses agricultural fields where guests can see the origin of the food that they have consumed, and the processing of wheat into flour by an ancient “panchakki” water-mill.

The buildings have been designed for passive cooling & heating. Energy efficient air coolers are installed throughout, avoiding the need for air conditioning. During winters, glass skylights let in the warm sun and the shades trap the heat for the night. Heated mattresses or hot water bottles are encouraged over general space heating. A unique solar hot water system has been developed, with a switching mechanism that diverts warm water into the geysers for top-up only during winters and directly into the taps during summers. An innovative re-circulation system avoids water getting cold in the pipes, thereby eliminating the need to release water until warm water becomes available. Inverters have been used as the primary back-up, and the generators are used only when inverters have been exhausted and then only to re-charge them – thus reducing noise & air pollution.

Natural springs that are maintained are the source of water at Soulitude. Additionally rain water is harvested for use during scarcity and used in WCs and for gardening. A series of filters that purify water without depleting natural minerals are used instead of RO purification systems that create waste water. Glass bottles and Copper jugs are used as drinking water containers. An industrial dishwasher is used that uses minimal amount of water to generate steam used for cleaning.

Other thoughtful practices adopted include extensive plantation of native species to prevent soil erosion and improve the water table. Shampoo is provided in a wall dispenser (thereby avoiding single use packaging) along with large take-away preservative free soaps in natural leaf packaging and Himalayan oils in glass bottles for moisturisation. Linen is changed only upon request, during a guest’s visit. For picnics, biodegradable crockery & cutlery are used and digital pre-check procedures and paperless billing practices adopted reduce paper waste.