The Sonaugi Homestead
Registered as a Homestay under the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism The Sonaugi Homestead is the home of Vivek Sharma, along with his friend Rajesh Ojha, promoter of Banjara Camps. Rajesh was behind the idea of converting the Home into The Homestead.
The Homestead was born from over a decade of journeys into the valley that Vivek had been making to Sonaugi since 2001-2. "My Italian Hippie friend Eris Binda (husband of Franchesca and father to five children) had set up home here. Actually my Austrian friend Andreas Maleta who lived in Nashala village, introduced me to this Valley which was tucked away by a couple of miles from the main Manali crowds."
"In fact, the day we lay the first stone of Sonaugi, Lama Rigzin Amchi – a Healer from Ladakh – was present to make the prayers. We took some pictures of the occasion but the old digital formats aren't in vogue any more. It’s been a while since. But we remember clearly how the patch of land we stood on, miraculously received drops of rain as the Lama muttered his inaudible chants while the rest of the area stood dry."
"Our side of the mountain, Sonaugi gets the first rays of the sun and stays lit till the very end of the day. Thankfully, the gradient is a little steep and probably that is the reason why it hasn’t been spotted by the prying land-sharks who made a beeline for the Kullu-Manali hills. Sonaugi was the farm land of the villagers in Janna, Dhamma, Arcchandi and other surrounding villages. It wasn’t used for residential purposes – so there are virtually no neighbours within earshot except our own private commune."
Eris and his merry boys toiled hard to transform the place into a fine faraway Himalayan alcove. All these years he had been asking Vivek to buy. When he finally did, the first investment was the old rustic cottage that Eris built with his own hands.
"It is with the arrival of Rajesh, who has been a pioneer in soft adventure tourism in Himachal, that we began to imagine Sonaugi as a private space to be shared with a few friendly guests."
Sonaugi is a Shanti-space, not for the hyper-active tourist, a small boutique, one of the finest in the Valley.