Course Logistics

Student Cost

Program Cost: $2,550; includes 5 credits of tuition, all meals and domestic travel.
IPE Fee: $200
Additional costs include: RT airfare to India, insurance, immunizations, visa, and personal spending money.


There are no formal prerequisite or language requirements for the seminar, but participants are encouraged to participate in a prep seminar for the course in Spring, which meets three times during the quarter in the evening

Students from a variety of disciplines will find the seminar useful for their career development. These include, but are not limited to, Planning, Public Affairs, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Geography, South Asia Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Business (Social Entrepreneurship), and International Planning & Development.

The instruction will be in English with Hindi- or Kumaoni-speaking local coordinators providing language assistance as needed.

You must be enrolled for Autumn Quarter 2009. Students graduating in Spring 2009 or Summer 2009 are eligible for participation only as non-matriculated students.

Important Dates

Application deadline is past, but you may still be considered for admission on a case by case basis. Contact the instructor before applying. To apply online, click here. For details on payment deadlines, click here.


The director of the program is Manish Chalana, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept of Urban Design and Planning, and Adjunct Assitant Professor, Landscape Architecture and South Asia Center.
His research interests are in International Planning and Development and Historic Preservation. . He is a native of India who relocated to the United States in 1996. He has traveled extensively in Uttarakhand and is familiar with the people and the land.

Teaching Assistants

Angie McCarrel is candidate for the Master of Urban Planning with a certificate in Historic Preservation in the College of Built Environment and a certificate in International Development Policy and Management in the Evans School. She has 15 years of community development and nonprofit organization experience that includes heritage preservation, affordable housing development, non-profit capacity building, financing, and most recently as a successful manager of a $20 million community development loan fund. She is interested in exploring the dynamics of built environment and cultural heritage as integrated elements in community development in rural and urban environments. A specific focus is on the applicability of development strategies such as sustainable community based tourism, microfinance, and social entrepreneurship to promote heritage preservation and natural resource conservation. She was a participant in the 2008 Himalayan seminar and is looking forward to returning this year.

Shu-Mei Huang is a doctorate candidate in the Built Environment program. Prior to this she has worked as designer and planner in Taiwan, participating in community design and cultural landscape preservation projects, especially on the cases in the mountainous area inhabited by the indigenous people. With these experiences, she maintains her concern for the dynamics between the livelihood of rural community and the drastic change of the built environment, which is evidenced by her involvement in the Himalayas seminar in 2008 and this year.Meanwhile, Shu-Mei is about to finish her course work and looking forward to develop a comparative study between Hong Kong and Taipei, with a focus on the terrain intersected by urban renewal and urban landscape conservation. Her goal is to interrogate contradictions embedded in the two realms theoretically and practically with intent to complicate understanding of human agency in planning and to map out possibilities for more innovative and effective actions.

Eric Noll is a doctoral candidate in the Built Environment program. He participated in the India Himalaya program in 2008.

Accomodations & Local Transportation

Eco Resort: Students and faculty will be housed in detached cottages on a shared basis in the Himalayan Village at Sonapani during the first leg of the travel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, including morning and evening tea/coffee, will be provided every day. All meals are prepared fresh on site and are home-cooked; cuisine ranges among regional Indian, Indian-Chinese, Continental and Italian, among others.

Homestays: In the second leg students will experience home stays in village homes in Sarmoli Village. Mostly vegetarian meals would be provided by the host family.

Tents: The program includes a 5-6 day hike in the back country. During then students will stay in tents. A traveling kitchen will provide basic meals along the trek. During this time there will be minimum facilities and services.

All transportation costs (except for the airfare to Delhi) are included in the program fee. We will be using a variety of transportation modes to get to our study site.

  1. Train from Old Delhi to Kathgodam: The train leaves the Old Delhi railway station at 4 pm and reaches Kathgodam at 10:40 pm.
  2. Private taxis from Kathgodam to SatoliVillage: The taxis will cover the roughly 70 km (40 miles) in an hour and a half on winding roads through the settlements of Bhimtal, Bhowali, Ramgarh and Nathuakhan, to reach Satoli village.
  3. Walk from Satoli to Sonapani along a trail through a mix of cultivated and forested landscape: this is a pleasant, at grade walk of over a mile and takes about 20-minutes.
  4. Private taxis from Sonapani to Sarmoli; the entrance of the Johar Valley: Sarmoli is adjacent to Munsiari--a small gateway town at an elevation of roughly 7000'. This is the last town on the road and has basic facilities such a phone booth, bank (no ATM), and post office.

About India, Uttrakhand and Sarmoli Area

India is the largest country in South Asia and the largest democracy in the world. It shares borders with Pakistan, China (Tibet), Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is the seventh largest country in the world by area and has over a billion people. It's an extremely diverse country, with vast differences in geography, climate, culture, language and ethnicity across its expanse. India is administratively divided into 28 states and 7 union territories. The states are broadly demarcated on linguistic lines. The union territories are smaller and have much less autonomy.

Uttarakhand borders Tibet to the north, Nepal to the east, and the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh (of which it formed a part before 2000) in the west and south respectively. From 2000-2006 the official name of the state was Uttaranchal. The capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, and the High Court of the state is located in Nainital. There are 13 districts in Uttarakhand which are grouped into two divisions: Garhwal and Kumaon. We will be based in the Nainital and Pithoragarh districts in Kumaon.

Study Area: Nanital, Almora and Pithoragah Districts

Tentative Schedule
Aug 28: Take Uttrakhand Sampark Kranti Express # 5036 to Kathgodam. The train leaves Old Delhi Station at 4pm. Stay at the KMVN Cottages in Chaukori. 

Aug 29: Leave Chaukori at 8am to arrive in Sonapani for late breakfast.

Aug 29- Sep 4: Sonapanu

Sep 5: Leave for Sarmoli for Avani. Spend the night at the KMVN guest house.

Sep 5-10: Sarmoli Homestay

Sep 11-16 Trek

Sep 17: Sarmoli Homestay

Sep 19: Leave for Sonapani

Sep 19-21: Sonapani

Sep 22: Take the early morning train to Delhi.

Urban Design and Planning, Early Fall 09 (Aug 28-Sep 22)
Integrated Rural Planning & Development focusing on Design, Planning, Policy & Preservation

Instructor: Manish Chalana. Ph.D

Office: 448 C Gould Hall
Office Hours: by appointment
Telephone: 6-6051

Weekly News

Please download the ORIENTATION PACKET and review it before arrival in Delhi.

The program has made hotel reservations for you in Delhi for Aug 27 (Thu) and Sep 22 (Tue). The hotel DELHI YWCA BLUE TRIANGLE FAMILY HOSTEL is centrally located on Ashoka Road.

The program will officially begin at 12 noon in the lobby of YWCA hostel. We will explore Connaught Place and have lunch there, and leave for Old Delhi Railway Station at 2pm.

About the Seminar
The India-Himalaya program would focus on integrated community planning and development in the Kumaon region of Uttrakhand state. The first half of the program is based in Sonapani where students will interact with the various institutions and organizations in the lower Himalayan areas to understand a variety of approaches used in integrated rural development work. This would be achieved by interacting with communities and the organizations & institutes through day trips/hikes, field seminars and workshops.

After becoming familiar with the different approaches to rural development the class will shift base to the village of Sarmoli in the upper Himalya. Here students will participate in the community based tourism program that Sarmoli has created in which several households participate through the homestay program administered by the Village Council. This is in response to the growing tourism that is emerging as a powerful new force, and promises to bring economic benefits to the communities, but at the same time, threatens existing cultural and ecological patterns of the region. Students will have an opportunity to understand the specifics of this program and explore ways in which the current model could be expanded to other villages, and also include micro finance and cultural heritage preservation. Students will engage in a 4/5-day hike to remote villages around Sarmoli to assess the portability of the Sarmoli model.  The final projects would build on work produced by the 2008 Exploration Seminar, and address the themes of the class. The results will be presented to the community at the  conclusion of the seminar.  Fieldwork will rely on survey, interviews and focus groups. The work would be carried out in small teams; field translator would be available as needed.

Syllabus, Schedule and Readings

Syllabus and Schedule

Reading List for Spring and Supplemental Reading List by Topics

All reading (spring and supplemental) are available from E Res and organized by sessions and topics.

General Discussion Board
Use the assigned areas in the discussion board to discuss travel related topics.

Travel Requirments & Restrictions
For U.S. Department of State's travel advisory check country specific information for India.
At a minimum you will need the following:
Passport: A valid passport is necessary to enter and exit India for any purpose. If you do not have a passport contact the Passport Service Office to get one.
Visa: You must obtain a visa at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country, as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. You can apply for a Tourist Indian visa from the Indian Consulate General in San Fransisco. It takes about 5 business days and $73 to process a visa request from the day it is received. The cost does NOT include postage.
Restricted Area Permits: Portions of the backcountry travel may be designated "Restricted Area" category by the Indian Government, and you need a special permit to travel there. Your instructor will arrange for these permits on your behalf.
Additional Documentation: Bring 2 passport photos and a photocopy of your passport and visa on the trip.

Health & Safety
The Kumaon region is NOT categorized as an "area of instability" by the U.S. State Department. There are no special precautions recommended for travel to this area; however, you will need to take responsibility for your own safety, and use common sense in doing so.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect-bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's India site.

Hall Health Travel Clinic offers pre-travel counseling, immunizations, and health advice. Pre-travel consultations are available by appointment. Travelers will be asked to complete a questionnaire regarding travel plans. It is important to bring all immunization records available. Because several weeks may be required to complete a needed vaccine series, we recommend the initial appointment be held at least 4 weeks before departure. You should telephone for an appointment two weeks before that, if possible.

Sarmoli Community Based Tourism Programme
Language and Culture

The three commonly used languages are English, Hindi and Kumaoni, which is a dialect of Hindi spoken in the Kumaon region. English is widely understood (and to a lesser extent spoken) in the lowlands, while Hindi and Kumaoni are more commonly used in the uplands.


Uttarakhand resembles other parts of the Himalayas, with a variety of ethnic groups. The state is divided into two geographic and linguistic divisions: Garhwal and Kumaon. The majority of the population is either Hindu or Buddhist.

Travel Etiquette

Always be respectful of social norms in areas where you are traveling. In India this includes modesty in clothing, and avoiding public display of affection and ostentatious displays of wealth. Be courteous to locals, who mostly come from a very different socio-economic and cultural background than your own.

"STUFF" you will need

Your prescription medicines. Make sure you have enough to last during your trip. Keep them in their original prescription bottles and always in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to follow security guidelines, if the medicines are liquids.

Antimalarial drugs IF prescribed by your doctor.

Insect repellent (maximum strength or tropical) that help prevent leech bites.

Over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea, acidity and mild aches and pains.

Iodine tablets OR portable water filters to purify water, as bottled water will not be available beyond Munsiari.

Sunblock and sunglasses for protection from harmful effects of UV sun rays.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Lightweight clothing items: shorts, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, sweater, socks, underwear, towel, etc.

Trekking clothes: long pants and shirt, light gloves, warm cap, sun hat, fleece vest, rain jacket, money belt.

Footwear: Hiking boots, hiking sandals, camp slippers

Trekking Items: daypack, head lamp; sleeping bag and liner; 1-litre water bottle; lip balm and moisturizer; vitamins; energy bars; trail mix, etc.

Toiletries including toilet paper

Useful Links

NGOs in Kumaon you will interact with:





Helpful Travel Sites:

Lonely Planet

Incredible India

Kumaon Tourism

Wiki Travel

Fun Corner
I have made a list of some of my favorite books on India by mostly Indians or authors of Indian origin on Amazon Listmania.