We are located at 1650 meters in the Kumaun Himalaya. During the winter months (December – March) temperatures can drop to zero degrees celcius. We do not have central heating in our office or in the rooms or homes we live in. Please come adequately prepared with warm clothing.
In spring and summer, the average temperature is about 25 degrees celcius. The sun can get intense – sunscreen or a cap would be a good idea.
The monsoons arrive between June and August. A poncho/raincoat and umbrella will be very useful during the rains. Sensible shoes or sandals are good to have around at any point of time.
In India most phones run on GSM Networks (some work on CDMA). SIM-cards are cheap and easily available. To get one, you will need copies of your passport, a passport photo, and proof of address (that Chirag can provide). To avoid roaming charges, it would be best to wait till you get to Chirag before you get your SIM-card.
We do not have an ATM or money exchange facilities at the village where Chirag has its office. The nearest ATM (that accepts VISA and Mastercard) are in Almora, Nainital or Haldwani. Keep emergency cash before getting to Chirag.
As a rural development organisation, most of our work is conducted in Hindi. Chirag can assist in locating a translator (Rs 200/day) if necessary.
Foreign nationals working with Chirag have to register themselves at the local police station on arrival. Chirag will assist with the paperwork (we need copies of your passport, valid visa, 2 passport photos). For visitors who plan to stay for at least six months registration with the Foreigners Registration Office at New Delhi is mandatory.
Chirag puts up its staff and interns in a single room or on a shared basis. Since accommodation is limited, often, there isn’t a choice. Few of the rooms have an attached bath. Most toilets are Indian style. We encourage interns and volunteers to stay in villages with families to gain a better understanding and a richer experience.
The accommodation at Sitla, Dewaldhar and Dhokane and the office have canteen facilities where the main meals are served. The food is wholesome, vegetarian, Indian food consisting of dal, vegetable, rice and roti.
Boiled and filtered water is available at the office. You may get your own water purification systems for greater safety.
There are small shops in the village and Mukteshwar that sell basic supplies and snacks.
Chirag runs a hospital and a clinic in the area. Staff and interns have access to these facilities at cost while at Chirag. If you have any specific chronic medical issues, please bring a supply of medicines. Do inform us in advance if you have any known allergies.
There are no cybercafe’s here … yet. the accommodation at Chirag’s central office in Simayal has a broadband connection that interns and staff can use if they are based there. The facilities are available from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm on weekdays. Since Chirag has limited computer resources, we advise that you carry your own laptop/ tablets with you if your work/ research requires access to computers/ internet.
Area offices do not have internet facilities.
It is advisable for women and men to be modestly dressed when staying at Chirag. Salwar kurtas or long tunics would be appropriate and comfortable for field visits. Shorts and tight outfits are best avoided.
GETTING TO CHIRAG
From Delhi, we are well connected by train and bus to Kathgodam. The Ranikhet Express (Train no. 15013) leaves Old Delhi Station every night at 10.40 pm (arrival at 5.10 am), the Uttar Sampark Kranti Express (Train no. 15035) departs from Old Delhi at 4 pm (arrival at 9.35 pm) and the Anand Vihar Kathgodam AC Express (Train No. 14012), operates thrice a week (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) from Anand Vihar at 6 am (arrival at 11.55 am).
Tickets can been booked online at www.irctc.co.in. Visitors who have credit cards issued internationally can book their tickets through online booking services provided by private operators/websites.
Private taxis (Rs. 1200) are available from the station to Sitla/Simayal.
Alternatively, take a bus, get down at Haldwani (1 stop before Kathgodam) and go to the bus Station. From there a bus leaves for Nathuwakhan at 6.30 am. Another bus leaves at 8.30 (and stops close to the office). Another option is to take a share taxi to Bhowali, and change to another share taxi to Nathuwakhan (3 kms from the office).
The ride to Chirag from Kathgodam/Haldwani takes about 3 hrs
Buses to Haldwani leave Delhi at regular intervals from the Anand Vihar Bus Station in Delhi.