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Stay: Photo Essay

By Christine Pemberton

Picture the cool clear Indian Himalayas. Then picture a charming valley, with steep wooded hills and a crystal clear river running through it. There is a little village traffic, but most people walk. There are sheep and goats and cows and fields and trees and soaring peaks and a clear blue sky. And there is the Tirthan River, home to brown trout.
Welcome to the world of the Himalayan Trout House, a delightful little fishing lodge in a tiny hamlet called Nagini, high in the Himachali hills.
Published: 17th October 2016.

Himalayan Trout HouseBuilding

The Himalayan Trout House is a small, cosy lodge, with 8 rooms and bags of character. Let’s just say it is a lodge that welcomes strangers and send them home as close friends. It is unstuffy, unpretentious, with excellent friendly service, great food, charming rooms. What’s not to love?

Himalayan Trout House Host - Christopher Mitra

Meet mine host, the irrepressible Christopher Mitra. ½ Irish, ¼ Scottish, ¼ Bihari, born and 100% brought up in India. A passionate fisherman, it was his love of angling that brought him to Himachal many, many years ago and, along with his lovely wife Shefali, they set up the Himalayan Trout House. (And yes, by the way, if you need a lesson in how to cast, Christopher is your man).

Himalayan Trout House - fishing with dog

There aren’t any rules at the Himalayan Trout House.
Liking dogs isn’t mandatory, but it helps, because if it’s not the Mitra’s dog then it’s the village dog that will tag along with you, uninvited, and accompany you when you go down to the river to fish.

Himalayan Trout House - local dog

There is always a village dog ready to go for a walk with you. Oh yes, that’s another thing that's not a rule but it sure helps – a love of walking. The narrow road winds along the river valley, wandering through villages and hamlets, and before you know it, you are in the next village, chatting to the locals, and always accompanied by your uninvited canine friend.

Himalayan Trout House - crossing the Tirthan River

Another rule? Yet again, it is, of course, absolutely not a rule, but if you have a spirit of adventure it certainly helps. That means that when your gillie suggests crossing the river to fish, you are happy to hop in the “jhoola” and cross over the River Tirthan. You sit in the metal seat, and one of your mates pulls you over to the other bank. Simple really.

Himalayan Trout House - Caught trouts

Trout fishing is controlled and strictly regulated in the Tirthan Valley, and so it should be. You will need a fishing permit, which the lodge arranges for you, and your gillie will check that you do not take out too many or undersized fish.

Himalayan Trout House - minimum trout size

The minimum size for landing a trout is 10”. Anything smaller has to be put back. The rules are there for a reason, which is to prevent over-fishing and to ensure that the trout population in the valley is sustainable.

Himalayan Trout House - dining room

This is the heart of the Himalayan Trout House. The dining area, the fireplace, the lounge for after lunch reading sessions that often morph into siestas, the evening gathering place for chat and music and a drink around the fire and the inevitable stories about “the one that got away.”

Himalayan Trout House - sheep herder

There are times when you head out for a walk when you encounter a local traffic jam. The etiquette is - as ever in these parts - to slow down and stop for a chat. You could always offer to help herd the sheep, but the villagers will just laugh and politely decline your urban help.

Himalayan Trout House - goat traffic jam

Then some days there are really big traffic jams, the type that force you to stop and wait for the jam to clear itself, which it always does. But this sure beats noisy urban traffic any day.

Himalayan Trout House - villagers threshing

And then there are days when the road leading to the Himalayan Trout House has been turned into an impromptu threshing ground. Yet again, you wait or join in or chat. Or preferably do all three. Friendliness is a way of life here.

Himalayan Trout House - welcome sign

A little corner of cool clean fishing heaven. Tight lines.

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