What is the temperature like?
We are located at an altitude of 1650 meters in the Kumaun Himalaya.
During the winter months (December – March), temperature can drop to zero degree Celsius. 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. The landscape is rocky and can get very slippery if wet.
How can I get a mobile phone?
In India, most phones run on GSM Networks (some run on CDMA). SIM-cards are cheap and easily available, though the process can take up to a week. 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.
Will I be able to withdraw and/or exchange money once I get to Chirag?
We do not have an ATM or money exchange facilities at the village where Chirag has its office. The nearest ATM is in Mukteshwar, but is often out of order. Your best bet would be to go to Almora, Nainital or Haldwani. These ATMs all accept Master Card and Visa. Keep emergency cash before getting to Chirag.
What language is used at Chirag?
As a rural development organization, most of our work is conducted in Hindi. Chirag can assist in locating a translator (Rs 200/day) if necessary.
Do we need to register ourselves upon arrival?
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 and two passport photos).
For visitors who plan to stay for at least six months registration with the Foreigners Registration Office at New Delhiis mandatory.
Does Chirag provide accommodation for their volunteers/interns?
We offer accommodation for our interns and volunteers, who are put in a dormitory. There is one dormitory for men, and one for women. Both are equipped with toilet (Indian style) and bathrooms. However, we encourage interns and volunteers to stay in villages with families to gain a better understanding of the region and a richer experience.
Is the food provided for us? Will we have access to a kitchen to cook our own meals?
The accommodation at Sitla, Dewaldhar and Dhokane and the Simayal office have canteen facilities where the main meals are served. You will not be able to cook for yourself at these locations. The food is Indian, wholesome and vegetarian. A typical meal would consist of dal (lentil dish), vegetable, rice and roti.
Where can I find drinking water?
Boiled and filtered water are available at the office. You may get your own water purification systems for greater safety.
Where can I get general provisions such as snacks, bathroom essentials, etc.?
There are small shops in the village where you can find snacks, vegetables and some basics supply such as shampoo, etc. There are “supermarkets” in Sitla and Mukteshwar, which sell everything from chocolate to hydrating cream, etc.
Is there any medical facility nearby?
Chirag runs a hospital in the area which staff and interns can access (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.
Is there internet access near Chirag?
There are no cybercafe’s here, but Chirag’s central office in Simayal has a broadband connection that interns and staff can use. The Wi-Fi is usually 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 requires access to computers and/or internet.
Area offices do not have internet facilities.
Is there a dress code at Chirag?
Although there is no specific dress code, it is advisable for women and men to be modestly dressed when staying at Chirag. Salwar and kurtas (traditional indian clothing) or long tunics would be appropriate and comfortable for work and for field visits. Short and tight outfits are to be avoided.
How can I get 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 in Kathgodam)
The Uttar Sampark Kranti Express (Train no. 15035) departs from Old Delhi at 4 pm (arrival at 9.35 pm in Kathgodam)
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.
From Kathgodam to Chirag
Private taxis (Rs. 1200) are available from the station to Sitla/Simayal.
Alternatively, take a bus from Delhi to Haldwani. Buses to Haldwani depart from Delhi at regular intervals from the Anand Vihar Bus Station in Delhi. Once you get off at Haldwani, 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 shared taxi to Bhowali, and change to another shared taxi to Nathuwakhan (3 km from the office).
The ride to Chirag from Kathgodam/Haldwani takes about 3 hours.