If you love solitude and being amongst nature, there are few places that can rival the Forest Rest Houses in Himachal Pradesh. Often built during the British era, these FRHs are beautifully constructed in the midst of the jungle, providing solitude and a unique staying experience.
Just like the HP PWD Rest Houses (read How to book a PWD Rest House in Himachal Pradesh), these are built for the officials, yet, rented out to tourists based on availability.
In fact, the Himachal Government is trying to promote Forest Rest Houses as part of its Eco-Tourism initiative and has made several of them available for online booking, simplifying the booking procedure for tourists and aiming to promote the off-beat locations these rest houses are built at.
Steps to book a Forest Rest House in Himachal Pradesh Online
Step 1: Visit himachalecotourism.org
Step 2: Click on the book online option and see the available rest houses in any particular region.
Step 3: Choose the rest house you wish to book.
Step 4: Choose number of guests and number of rooms, you wish to book and click on check availability.
Step 5: If rooms are available, choose number of rooms and click on book now.
Step 6: Fill out your details and make the payment online to confirm your booking.
How to book a Forest Rest House not available for booking online
Even though Himachal Pradesh Forest Department has numerous rest houses, only a limited number of them can be booked online through the ecotourism portal. In case of the rest, you will have to contact the DFO (Divisional Forest Officer) for booking. Here are the steps to book an FRH, which isn’t listed online.
Step 1: See the revised list of rest houses listed here.
Step 2: Contact the DFO for the concerned FRH over the phone. They can ask you to send booking request via email, in that case, please send an email to their official email account.
Step 3: Confirm your booking a couple of days later, in case it wasn’t done over the phone in an earlier conversation and get the contact number of the caretaker of the rest house.
Things to keep in mind
- HP Forest Rest Houses are built for the official purpose, so you might not be allotted all the rooms in the rest house.
- Booking can be cancelled if an official visit coincides with your visit, requiring additional rooms.
- This isn’t a hotel, so do not expect room service. The caretaker may or may not cook food and tea for you, based on his discretion. You can use the kitchen to cook your own food and for that, you will have to pay gas charges.
- You have to carry your own raw food material to be cooked at the guest house since most of these are located far away from the nearest market and hence getting supplies at the last moment might not be feasible.
- Since majority of the FRHs are in the middle of the jungle, there are few people around except the forest officials and locals. Add to that, you may or may not get mobile phone network at these places, hence plan accordingly and let your loved ones know this fact in advance.
- Since you’re in a forest reserve, please do not litter, play loud music or do anything that can disturb the local flora and fauna.
- Treat the caretaker and other forest officials with respect, they are not your servant. Also, listen to their advice, they know the area well and hence it is best to follow their advice and act accordingly.
Even though staying at an FRH isn’t for everyone, there are those like me, who enjoy the solitude these rest houses provide and that too at a fairly small price. For me, the charm of staying at these rest houses is the journey I have to undertake and the relaxing time I get to spend there, rather than sights or things to do nearby. And with this blog post, I hope I was able to help idyllic souls like me.