Dhabas on Treks, Yes or No? What do you think?

Today we’re discussing a slightly uncomfortable topic — dhabas on treks. And we’d like to know what you think.

“Dhabas on treks have cropped up everywhere. Trekkers seem to love these dhabas. They are a welcome break on the trek, plus lots of goodies to eat. Especially Maggi, omelette, tea.

On the other hand, a dhaba on the trek can be an eyesore. They add enormously to the litter on the trail. Worse, if one comes up, then very soon others too,” wrote Arjun Majumdar, our founder, on the group.

And what he’s saying is absolutely true! When I went to Roopkund last June, there was a dhaba at 14,000 ft, near Kalu Vinayak. I was still coming to terms with it when I saw that higher up, there’s a full-fledged shop at Bhagwabhasa and worse, a chai wallah on the climb to Roopkund, at around 15,000 ft! I was wondering if I was on a train journey or a trek.

Trekkers have noticed this too. But most of them are torn between two thoughts — dhabas are truly unnecessary on trekking trails. Nobody wants to see them when you’re trying to get away from the clutter of city life. On the other hand, they provide employment to locals, nobody wants to discourage that.

We had a conversation about this on our Trekkers Hangout page a few days ago.

I’m pasting some strong voices from the debate here —

After reading all these comments, opinions and suggestions one thing most of trekkers missed to cover about SOLE PURPOSE OF TREKKING into Himalayan Range!

It’s not a Picnic!

At least to me Trekking is a break from much contaminated lifestyle of ours with junk food, unhealthy habits, inappropriate timings of having food, sleeping patterns and many more it’s unending list.

In My experience from past 4 Himalayan trek gave me enough realisation that it’s all about giving away your preferences, tastes, likings and accept what’s in front of you.

Dhaba’s came out of the need generated from the demand from mostly non responsible trekkers and not on localite’s own mind. Where there’s demand there’s opportunity for business and earning money!

Its next to impossible to refrain local residents from earnings through these Dhaba’s during specific time of year.

It’s going to be a aligning the demand vs supply equation wherein local, seasonal food should be promoted instead of packed, ready to eat and fast food.

This will also help in reducing the CO2 emission in bringing the supplies to the village by limiting movement of vehicles. At the same time the challenge of littering as well as waste collection and disposal will definitely get addressed.

Commercialisation of trekking in Himalayan range is another concern but there are good and responsible organisations like India Hikes helping to reduce impact on environment for sure.

Rest it’s how one takes responsibility on his/her shoulders and not only expect from someone else’s home. 

– Ravi Shinde

I wouldn’t want to see dhabhas on the trek trail…The treks are not so long that we cannot live without those so called fast foods. The food provided by IH is so nice that i did not have the need to eat maggi or the omelette…..as far as i am concerned big NOOOO to the dhabhas on the trek trail.

– Gopinath A Rao

There are a few that believe otherwise.

Neither we can stop the mushrooming dhabas nor mass trekking/tourism. Both are not meant for a privileged few.

What we can do is change our habits. While some groups carry out responsible trekking there are many who just come for fun (read: play loud music, consumer alcohol, etc).

I don’t understand the need to go gaga over soft drinks, maggi, packaged products on a 4-5 day trek. Stop consuming these and one shall see a culture change in dhabas too.”

– Eshant Shah

It’s not fair to call them dhabas, most of them are local people who are homely and provide local flavour, they maintain the spirit of the mountains. Private players should not see this as a business opportunity, rather the trekking community should support these people in any way possible.

– Anand Sonthalia 

Dhabas don’t add litter.. it’s the habits of people who patronise and maybe even those who run it… The concept is great..while boosting local economy, the sight definitely reassures a weary trekker in the wilderness.. you have mountain huts in the Alps too serving food. Haven’t seen much litter there though..

– Arun Nayak

It’s interesting to see everyone’s thoughts. And it’s more interesting to note that everyone has the same intention in their heart — that trekking trails don’t get polluted. We don’t want any other trek facing the same fate as Kheerganga.

The Indiahikes opinion

Frankly, we don’t see the need for dhabas on trekking trails. There are three reasons for this.  

One, they are indeed an eye-sore
It’s not a pleasant sight to see rows and rows of packets of chips and biscuits in the middle of a beautiful meadow. It just doesn’t blend in with the surroundings. And it doesn’t fuse well with trekking as a sport. The food served, the choices made are often unhealthy — exactly the opposite of what trekking stands for.

Two, they add greatly to the litter on trails
Even if they bring their litter back down to the base camp (which very few of them do), it’s not segregated and usually ends up in a landfill. Our Green Trails team has spoken to several dhaba owners several times requesting them to segregate at source, or perhaps hand over the waste to us, which we will segregate. But it’s very difficult to scale up this kind of an association.

Three, there are better employment options in the mountains
Most trekkers argue that buying things at dhabas encourages employment. But honestly, there are better employment options available today, even in the mountains. I’m saying “better” because running a dhaba is a job with very small returns. They lead a low quality of life, and don’t have great chances of scaling up and growing. In the long run, it isn’t going to help them or their families too much.

There are many other employment options. Our own staff members are from the mountains. They have jobs as guides, technical guides, rental managers, store managers, trek managers, cooks, helpers. And they all earn a respectable income. Many of them earn much like me and colleagues, a handsome salary at the end of every month throughout the year.

So if you ask me, there are enough job opportunities, not only with trekking organisations, but in other areas such as hospitality, retail and transport as well.

Outside this, people think Dhabas can be encouraged to sell only local food. As Indiahikes we have managed to convince a few dhabas to sell only local food. We are happy to see them come to terms with the arrangement. The litter is lesser and the margins more. Yet, the lure of biscuits and instant noodles are too high for most trekkers to resist. Trekkers ask for these foods and sooner or later dhaba wallas compromise. On trails where Indiahikes is absent, the litter from these packaged goods is enormous.

However, I would love to know what your thoughts are on this. I have put up this whole debate on our website. I’ve put in a poll too, to understand what the majority of our trekkers feel.

Drop in your thoughts as a comment below.

Don’t forget to choose an answer in the poll below!

[poll id=”22″]


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100 thoughts on “Dhabas on Treks, Yes or No? What do you think?

  1. A big NO . Surprised to see that there are a significant number of “trekkers” who actually like to shop for things( in this case food) on the trek.
    Personally for me, a major reason for going on trek is to take a break from everything materialistic and monetory.
    If a dhaba is fine, why not a stall who rents some woolens or bedding, why not a stall which sells or rents entertainment stuff like snow showels or others toys, why not turn every trek to Rohtang pass.

  2. Dhabas are built by locals who are in their land and the decision to start an enterprise is theirs alone. They see profit in the venture and there is nothing you can do to stop them 🙂

    I always appreciate any way of generating employment in our enormously overpopulated country 🙂

    1. I totally agree. after all its their home state. One of the reason why they are friendly and welcoming to trekkers is that they bring in money to boost their economy. We have to keep in mind that it is a place that is covered in snow for half the year or more, thus limiting the opportunity. Moreover just by not eating maggi (which is the limit of junk food you can get on the trek), one cannot become healthy. It is something to be practiced regularly.

    2. Tomorrow we will start getting malls over there. Our children (their children and our children) will have houses, cars, etc but will not be having good air and water. If you are earning Rs. 10,00,000 per month and spending Rs. 1,00,00,000 per month towards medical expenses, what is the use of employment.

      We can’t stop them but we can stop our self by not purchasing and helping them in some other way.

  3. They are not “dhabas” per se – they are small shops run by the locals, specially women and children. They may be an eye-sore for few, but they are a source of income for the people who are living in the places where we go to unwind ourselves.

    There are other sources of income in the mountains that are directly associated with trekking. But they are mostly restricted to age and gender. Not anyone can be a guide, porter, cook, helper. For others, it’s an alternate source of income. And that also for only a season of that place.

    Another important aspect of these “dhabas” is that some of them provide accommodation to trekkers as well. That is a great relief for solo trekkers and others who need that.

    It’s not advisable to remove them altogether. To deal with the littering, proper disposal methods should be employed for the shops to prevent the littering practice. We need to check ourselves as well to not throw garbage anywhere and everywhere.

    We, the people who live in the cities and find this as an eye-sore when we go there need to think that they are a means of income for the people who live there.

    1. In my recent trek to Kedarkantha in Jan , what I missed is a packed lunch on the day of the summit. The dhaba (unreliable option)on our way back was closed and we were totally exhausted by the time we reached our camp. Many of the trekker had no energy left to even eat and they chose to crash out instead.

      I voted NO only for the reason that I don’t know if these Dhabas are adding to the litter or if they are aware of proper disposal methods of the plastic packets that are already a menace on these treks. The Chai (tea) that they serve is a saviour and would love anything freshly cooked by the locals, momos included 🙂

  4. At high altitude local dhabas provides a service to we trekkers, n it gives them earnings too, they don’t mess n dump garbage but it’s we trekkers who r responsible for littering thrash. Dhabas are like boon as many trekkers are hungry, thirsty which gives energy to reach our summit. & dhabas are not open for full year but just few months. They are very helpful n humble in nature… So it’s unfair to put wrong label on them. We both can initiate programs to preserve nature at its best.

  5. I voted no. However I was ok with the idea of Chai on the trek. It was nice, and also still zero waste since the cups are reused. But the Maggi mee is really a way to either create waste or air pollution when the plastic is burned.

  6. Hi! Mine is an emphatic NO! Shops selling packaged food on treks should not be permitted. If at all, residents of villages along treks should be encouraged to sell only locally prepared fresh food.

  7. The guys selling readymade popular food see it as a business opportunity
    They are addressing a need posed by trekkers
    The problem of junk food is wider and needs to be addressed by the individual and the nation in multiple ways
    Food habits need to change
    Also locals should be encouraged to popularise their regional specialities

  8. Do I need a Dhaba on a trek? Certainly not. Do others need a dhaba during a trek? Depends on why people are opting for the trek. Is it to just be a tourist on foot? Is it to do the same things we do in our big cities and ruin the peace and calm of the mountain? Is it to erode the natural beauty of the place and throw garbage around for animals to eat and choke on? If the answer to the above questions is Yes, you may br able to justify the need for dhaba’s during a trek.
    But generally people do treks to challenge themselves, to be at peace and live with nature. I doubt the need for Dhaba’s in such scenarios.

  9. I think dhabas should not be there on trek . But the question arises what are they doing there and how the dhabas are sustaining themselves . It means that we trekkers are providing the dhabas with necessary life line . The question is who is to blame . It is us , the trekkers ….. thi k over it ?

  10. I believe people who have come to truly trek would refrain from consuming the instant food provided by these dhabas….as demand reduces, no of.dhabas would reduce too….dhabas have come up because trekkers find a need to eat what they serve, even if most of the times, it is impulse purchase…..more awareness among trekkers about real trekking can solve this problem.

  11. I am in favour of having Dhabas on the prescribed route. Having said that, I am of firm opinion that there should be a limited number and they should be regulated in terms of waste disposal through a scientific method, pricing to be fixed and items to be sold to be regulated apart from the crockery and plates etc. to be used. The regulations should be done in transparent manner involving local Panchayat.

  12. I do not see the need to have dhabas on treks. It’s a veiled attempt to take the habits of the urban life to the remote heights, to satisfy the die-hard comforts of some spoilt brats. Especially when responsible trekking organisations have their own kitchens, whats the need for a dhaba?

    If at tall they are to be allowed to promote local economy (I doubt it gets any good returns), they need to be regulated for their construction design and materials, items they sell and most importantly their cleanliness. And all these must be locally sourced, with strictly no packaged/branded stuff.

    Why would someone come to a trek if they cannot leave behind some small temptations for a few days, in the larger interests of nature and their own growth!

  13. Quite amused, actually nauseating to see a commercial trekking company taking a moralistic view point; often being judgemental about issues , people like this particular issue, 2 or 3 in a tent issues etc etc. It is quite an irony to see a commercial company taking people in groups to mountains consider dhabas as eye-sore and not hordes of people as eye-sore? I know IH is quite reponsible and takes not more than 25 people in a batch but still calling dhabas as eye sore is quite a stretch.

    I dont agree with the fist 2 reasons which IH gives why they don’t like Dhabas (they’re eyesore and they contribute litter). IH is squarely putitng the onus on the dhabas for the litter whereas it is purely on the trekkers mainly which IH and other companies bring to the mountains and also the local government which should provide a garbage treatment shceme. Not having dhabas on the treks won’t solve the littering issue on the mountains, trekker’s attitude is acutally what needs to change.

    I have trekked twice with IH and plan to trek more as well but I honestly feel IH could do without being so judgemental about differeing contrarian views and being moralistic in thier apporach because being a commercial trekking company which brings all kinds of trekkers (both responsible and others) to the moutain, it is quite hypocritical in a lot of ways.

      1. Even though I have voted NO, I very much agree with the points made by VISHWANATHA
        This is a natural outcome as trekking routes get more popular and commercialized.
        I feel you can’t at the same time be trying to popularize trekking in the mountains and also complaining about the serenity of nature being lost as a result.

        On a related note:
        I have enjoyed the trekking experience with IH
        However, I get a conflicting feeling every time I see a mail from IH intimating the opening of a new trekking trail, family friendly treks etc. I hope, in the end there still remain, some unexplored trekking trails, accessible only to the serious minded trekker

  14. its a big no no from me for Dhabas on the trail.
    -i have been on treks which do not have any dhabas at all, and enjoyed the trek to the fullest with the awesome food provided by IH.the moment we see a dhaba we automatically end up eating more and sometimes crave for junk-chips etc….
    -Waste management is in complete mess, the Dhaba staff try dumping loads of wrappers and plastic in the mountains, which is not acceptable
    -Trekkers who just trek to enjoy the beauty of Himalayas should control themselves from buying from Dhabas, which will automatically close down these shops.No DEMAND no SUPPLY

  15. It is absolutely wrong to say that Dabha wala creat Pollution & which is not segreted well. We all from outsiders going there creates some level pollution & disturb eco system. Now it is our duty to save from destruction.

    I had noticed that polluted water through our campsite went directly to the connected river. This is undigested things.

    Organizers & trekkers also should have improve theirs skill & habits..While going to trek.

    Dabhas should be open in routs & off course for earning for there people. We can not restrict them for doing business but give them some ideas. If possible to improve surrounding.

    One thing We can do from outsider to insider..Built a exchange thought level program with the help of local boys who work with indiahikes…. Educate them regarding pollution & other higenic things & future development programs.

    Thank you.

  16. Next thing someone will ask for an ola or uber at zero point . That will also boost local economy . How can they think of it in the wilderness . To have a dhaba and all .

  17. Hii,
    I am against the idea of having dhabas or any thing which are selling food stuff on the route .these are on for tourist which seek same pleasure as they are in some kind of resort.
    Besides we are care for the plastic waste they or we generate in this process . We are the trekker for whom trekking is the movement to discover ourselves.trekking is for mountain lover , not for tourist.

  18. I would say NO. Going for a trek in Himalayas itself is to get away from the commercial city mess and to be more closer to nature. Some boundaries should be laid between humans and nature. Or else just like Himalayas what if even the natural parks and wildlife sanctuaries get encroached by irresponsible humans and their ever expanding establishments; we have to be little responsible to contain our mess in our own backyard or else the future generations might be watching these wonders only as a virtual reality while the actual place will be filled with a huge piles of garbage and waste.

  19. Not only dhabas, but there should not be any kind of shops on the trails. There should not be any building or structure other than the tents of the trekkers. Trekking organization like india hikes should create awareness among the locals about why there should not be any dhabas.

  20. I vote for no Dhabas on treks. The litter is a major issue and if love for the locals and their well being is overflowing, we should do better to figure out better options for work for them, not this.

  21. I do not understand that if the traditional idea of trekking was always about “carrying and cooking” our own fresh or “packed” food, then how is the idea of local dhabas serving fresh or “packed” food which is beneficial to the trekkers as well as the localites a problem. The problem is of litter which can be caused by the trekkers too, not alone the dhabas. If everyone is provided the right education towards preserving the nature we all can come to terms and have no such issues. Also the trek operators we book through also set up their own food camps at the top providing alot more luxury to a trekker in terms of variety of food available, so how are we any different.
    Therefore Instead of eliminating them completely, maybe we can find ways to let everyone co exist, like a parameter set for dhabas to be at certain distance from each other so that a group of dhabas don`t over populate the area, and so on. Lets look at the solutions and not the problems.

  22. I totally agree with the views of Indihikes team.I also observed dhaba/hotel in Rupin Pass.Only Tea stall is fine which provide u energy but dhaba provides only junk food n litter of plastic,packets which is dangerous for our trek/environment.

  23. What’s wrong with dabhbas ? They are local people .They also wants to earn mony from people who are in their area . And some peoples are talking about awareness . Larger groups more then 20 ppls and sometimes 2 groups in a day ,What will you say about it ??It’s not about money you guys are earning ??? First stop making crowd train in mountain just for making money. Agree ?

    1. I disagree. I think Indiahikes trekkers are very conscious about the waste they bring to the mountains, making sure they take it back too. If they are not already conscious, they are made very conscious about it even before they go on the trek. They are given information about what not to carry on the trek, what is more environmentally conscious. Next, the minute they enter the base camp, they see posters, multiple dustbins to segregate their waste, their Trek Leaders give them a strong briefing about how to keep the trail clean. They also observe the entire Indiahikes team following Green Trails values very strongly. I refuse to accept the blame that Indiahikes trekkers are polluting the trail.

      On another note, we have reduced our team sizes to 18. And honestly, the number of people going on the trail does not matter. The conscience, the mentality, the briefings, the morals — these matter. A single team of 3 people can cause more damage to the mountains than a team of 20 people if they don’t know a sustainable way of trekking.

      And Indiahikes has been working endlessly to leave the mountains better, cleaning trash that others leave behind and spreading awareness about the sustainable trekking. It’s absurd that people point fingers at an organisation as “money making” when all the money is going right back into Indiahikes for our programmes like Green Trails.

      I would also like to make it clear that at Indiahikes, profit is not the reason for our business. It is just one of the outcomes of running our treks.

  24. 1. Calling against dbahas because they are an eyesore is selfish, it is acting as if the mountains belong to us and and we can dictate the way we want to see them. The reason the dhabas are coming up is pure supply and demand, just like the growth in number of trekking companies operating in the region.
    2. I agree dhabas are completely unneccesary on the trail, but how do we handle the problem? . If we are going to stand against the dhabas on the trail then we should also take a stand in rehabilitating the people running the dhabas. And how are we going to stop the future dhabas from cropping up.
    Unless there is an inclusive and sustainable solution to this problem i can’t take a stand.
    3. On my last trek, i had met a very dissappointed dhaba owner who felt Indiahikes is killing their business, she was young adult running the dhaba along with her father and a younger brother. She said they were not trashing the place and were carring the waste downhill, but there was no way for me to validate that.
    4. You say there are other alternatives for livehood for the dhaba owners, but how are going to be motivated to go through that transition? Just killing their business would only increase bitterness between the locals and India hikes.
    I think the debate should be on solving the problem rathering than supporting the dhabas or opposing them.

    1. Nobody is talking about killing the dhabas or stopping them from existing. Nobody has the power to do that but themselves. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, Indiahikes has worked with several dhabas to make them more environmentally friendly. We don’t expect them to shut down. It’s a healthy debate on what is good or bad for the trekking community and the environment. So let’s keep it that way.

  25. Indiahikes have made the Himalayan treks so popular, so what do you expect.
    Locals want to make some quick buck for their survival.
    Their land, their livelihood! Who are we to control that.

    Restrict your trek batches and stop sending more trekkers to save the environment. Lesser commercialization

    Lesser the people, lesser the garbage.

  26. Dhabas are a total NO. Please let us enjoy nature in its pristine state.If I am not mistaken, last year the uttarakhand govt had stopped permission to camp on the bugyals.The india hikes team also found different routes and camping sites to follow the order.
    How come anyone can set up a shop in the mountains? Isn’t it govt land?
    I would request the trekkers to not provide business to these shops. The locals have been employed as guides, cooks and support staff which is a better employment option.

  27. I think enough discussions are done here. We have variety of opinions but I personally completely agree with IndiaHikes view point.
    A BIG NO for dhabas from me

  28. Personally, I am against the setting up of dhabas on treks. I share the views of IndiaHikes and the commentators who agree.
    Another point to be noted is that the enchroachment of government land by anyone is not justifiable is any case. The Uttarakhand government (where some of the examples of treks on which dhabas seem to be present) had passed an order prohibiting even camping on the meadows, let alone permanent structures such as these dhabas which were ordered to be taken down.
    In my opinion, the dhabas would be more profitable and environmentally friendly if run in a place such as near the villages close to the starting point of the trek where there are more visitors and waste can be easily disposed. Alternatively, the local people running the dhabas could partner with trekking organizations and directly prepare meals for the trekkers instead of selling snacks.

  29. An absolute no! Apart from being an eye sore, local dhabas would take the fun out the whole meaning of being on a trek. It’s a sport and not pilgrimage. If the call of wilderness is mixed with something “not indigenous” of the region, its disaster in the making. If the desire for comfort and linger for so called fast food is overwhelming for someone in a dhaba at 10K+ feet altitude, May be this is not the sport for them. Don’t sweat it if you can’t make it without the “Assurane” of local dhaba.

  30. There are a lot of points which need to be taken into consideration.
    1 – I definitely agree that having Dhaba’s on the trail increases the amount of waste generated. I am not sure whether this waste ever comes down from the mountains.

    2 – I believe that taking away the right or having a rule in place for the trekkers to not eat anything from the Dhaba will not be RIGHT. It will be a massive blow for the locals there who survive on the money generated through their Dhabas.

    3 – Although, I think that each trekker who would like to eat at Dhabas, should bring/carry the waste which is generated along with them. This will at least help in waste reduction.

  31. Anything that increases litter in the valley or spoil the surroundings with man-made stuffs is a dent in the whole trekking experience. This will lead to commercialization of these trekking routes making them just another touristy place with Trekkers finally abandon in search of new routes. Finally it is call of locals but our job is to educate them of consequences

  32. DHABA may be there because It will help the trekker to minimize their carrying load who are not in a position to carry whole eatable with them .However more often it was found that the food provided at the on way dhaba’s are out dated, specially MAGGI, FRUTI, COLD DRINKS, BUISCUIT etc. so before intake these items trekker has to be very careful about its expiry date,

  33. As much as i would love the trek to continue to remain pristine the rising population means that people are going to innovate to find means of livelihood. I wonder how many of us have safely disposed each and every laptop , cell phone and e-waste we generate , apart from the humongous amounts of greenhouse gases we keep putting out into nature that are causing the Himalayan ranges more harm than the poor dhabawala – just that what they dhabawala does is an eye sore and stands up for scrutiny.

    I would agree to the view that littering must be avoided but i’d much rather dhaba walas than these folks turning to crime or even begging , given their acute conditions for eking out a living.

    There is a ticking time bomb and a much larger issue from emission we’d much rather focus on solving that needs to start in our towns and cities. Even the Himalayas would like for us to solve the first things first 🙂

  34. Dhabas ruin the experience of being lonely in mountains. That said, its ok to have one or two dhabas on trek provided they don’t sell plastic packed food.

  35. Dhabas selling packet biscuits and maggies are a big NO. They cater to the requirement of few people who wants things the easier way. We are talking about a trek in the himalayas, not a walk down the mg road wherein one is spoilt for choices. Its high time that we give it a thought towards sustainable trekking or else everyting now will become a thing of the past.

  36. I believe the trek should be for people to get a chance at minimalistic living and detoxing from technology and junk. Dhabas are the last thing that Shld be allowed in these trails. Especially in order to maintain the delicate balance of nature at those altitudes.

  37. The small tea shops in the mountains remote or otherwise are great points to converge and have conversations. I’ve chatted up to guides and porters and cooks and the tea stall boys at these tea shops.
    The tea shops at the higher altitudes are there only because of commercialized trekking like India hikes does. So to call the tea shop as eyesore and but not the hoards of trekkers who descend on these mountains is a really unfair statement. In fact I have always marveled at the ingenuity and hard work of these young men who lug the stuff up the mountains just so they can feed us! They do not charge too much too. Considering the work that they put it carting all the stuff to these high altitudes in harsh conditions. Our airport shops and fancy 5 star places charge us huge amounts for tea and coffee where as these simple folks put in way more effort but are not greedy. They may not have overheads but the effort is laudable.
    I have also seen that they are way more responsible than the visitors from outside. I remember on a trek in the summer of 2005, way before organized large group treks started, our guide Mr. Negi would pick up every paper wrapper he saw along the way and put it away in his backpack.
    So problem here are the companies who bring in the large number of trekkers not the locals who are just looking at opportunities to earn. It is their place and we are the outsiders not them.
    They can be judgmental towards us not us towards them!

  38. while reading the comments I can see such double standards, people here are talking about not consuming maggi and biscuits, but who can vow that they do not consume these things ever in their lives, the wrappers of the stuff in their houses not some pure ghee, it is as much polluting as in ends up in oceans, rivers or landfills. Dhabas are a definite yes, as it allows one to interact with the locals. It is very important source of livelihood. They should be sensitized about waste management. There should also be some collaboration with other trekking companies to make sure they follow similar protocols as Indiahike does. That according to me would be more helpful than removing the dhabas

  39. Not at the cost of nature.
    Dhabas does provides employment to the locals but it will be joint responsibility of locals & the trekkers to not litter and help our nature to be clean.

  40. Dhabas can be of good help to locals towards some employment and revenue generation…
    Secondly, if trekkers decide to have only healthy food and drinks then dhabawallas will have to keep that sort of food and drinks only…
    Lastly, its the responsibility of trekkers to keep the hills clean. They can even educate the locals about it.

  41. If there is no local shops, trekkers like us, who do not go with an agent and arrange everything themselves will really do have problems without them. I always dislike spoofed trekking, going with a group of people where everything is at your beck n call….. Sorry. I prefer tea house trekking like Nepal. I like to have any local food during trekking. Not alu paratha, maggie, soup etc. Etc. So solo trekkers really need these shops. And with due respect they are not eye sores. Rather a number of colorful tents in a beautiful valley is a really sore to me than a small shack beside a jungle or a spring.

  42. It’s not just the litter which is the first thing that hits you as you close in towards a tea stall or dhaba but also you are encouraging the local children to get into eating all these products which they could well do without . Also I’ve been seeing a rise in the practice of the children asking you for things.; almost begging you for sweets, money, etc . We are responsible for corrupting them thus.

  43. In my opinion,dhabas should not be there on trekking trails.They look like malignant tumours on our body_unwanted, harmful and unsighty.

  44. No dhabas, no development in mountains, hills. Unfortunately many misinterpreted development. In today’s world it’s unfortunately bombarded that, if you’ve raids, connectivity by any means u r progressive n you’ve chances of survival, growth which is half truth. Himalayas, Western Ghats of 1600 One having the same stories. Communities here lived for centuries w/o roads, internet n dhabas! Sustainable living is what we all need. That doesn’t mean I’m referring this to mountains, hills. No. It’s about city life too. We r full of materialistic things but deprived of warmth, bonding n real happiness which money can’t buy.
    IH is on right track. The way they engage localites that’s the right way. Living in harmony with nature is the only soln to entire mankind. We shouldn’t forget the impending global warming threat which will ruin everything n then no dhabas, no livelihood n no Treks as well!

  45. After reading this article, i am shocked to mention that if people are opening up shops at 14000 and 15000 ft then our system is wrong. Where as we (city blokes) find it difficult to even climb upto that height these people do it for their survival. If they were able to make a living in an easier way then they would not be doing this. The only way forward I feel is, to keep these shops/dhabas below a certain height say 9000 or 10000. The central govt should ban opening up of shops above this altitude. It would be safer for them and for the environment.
    One day it will come to such a situation that people will open a chai shop on Everest and everybody knows there is money to be made.

  46. Hi!

    In my opinion they definitely are unwanted. On a recent trek to Hampta pass which was in October end, we found one which had shifted base in Jwara. The amount of things that were littered around were strips of unused medicines, empty bottles of ketchup, plastics bags, paper, Maggi wrappers etc etc. As mentioned by so many the whole site was an eye sore. I feel that the whole pristine feel of the place is taken away by such sights. Today it’s one shop tomorrow there will be more! Just imagine what Badrinath would have been like before the first shop was established there! And now there are hordes of them. Not that the situation is comparable, but who knows what will happen in the future! We need to take collective action to nip it in the bud!

  47. I would not like to see dhabas on treks. I do understand that they are trying to make a living but it’s things like these that are ruining the natural beauty of our country. Every place is becoming commercialized. By the time you get to your destination it feels like you were on a ride from your house to the shopping mall. We should let some places be the way they were intended. Otherwise we will loose complete touch with the true nature of things and get lost in the wonderland that we have created in the cities.

  48. A big “NO” for the above mention subject . We need some place somewhere we can judge our self.
    I am a solo traveler and i never have any kind of problem in himalaya in terms of getting food or shelter .
    Whenever i need some food i try to reach nearby village and ask them for food and they happily arrange my food and that’s also in a homely environment. Mountain , jungle trail , river and snow caped mountain is not the picture of whole himalaya , the people is also in the list . I personally try to reach them to know them , to know their culture , their living . May be sometime i can not get food or shelter in absence of local habitat on my trail but still i do not want any Dhabas . So i request everybody please do not put any thing which will destroy these all things. Thank you everybody .

  49. This may not refer to the current topic of Dhabas or No Dhabas on treks but is rather a take-back from my last trek with IH, to Nag Tibba. It was at Pantwari, where all of us gathered to start for the trek. While the trek-leader was urging and making all of us understand the ill-effects of littering in the hills it was astonishing for us to see how much plastic (mostly, bottles and the ones used for daily kitchen use) waste was lying around us. While all of us tried to collect as much non-biodeg’ble waste from the trek we were still confused as to where and how this will be disposed..Inspiring and Educating the locals in the first place, to make their surroundings plastic free and resuse/recycle waste, will help creating/projecting a positive image of these base -camp, motivating the trekkers further to continue with the same spirit.

  50. No Dhabas on trek trail is my opinion. I agree with three reasons Indiahikes said. Earning options can be environmental friendly. Once the trail will get littered, people will stop going that place, if trail isn’t beautiful we will not go just to provide them earnings. So if Himalayas remain clean and serene, it will provide more and long lasting source of income to them.

  51. I will stop trekking if they increase. If continued tomorrow we will have shopping malls over there. Every where destruction of environment. No place to live with nature.

    Environment can be protected only by having as much as required. Having any thing more than required is a crime. In city most of us have more than required and same is happening in mountain instead city people reducing their requirement.

    Our future generation will have unknown deceases without good air and water.

    “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  52. NO Dhabas on trek is my opinion. As it’s not Picnic. It will lead to environmental damage on hills people will not prefer to come on trek. Rather we can enjoy local cuisine in the trek and we can try loacl food from nearby village. so we choose to come on the trek to get break from our unhealty lifestyle, food and stressful Life. we should be simple connect to nature and take care of motherland.
    Thank You!!

  53. No Dhabas is a very simple solution. . But Dhabas are in itself not a problem – real problem is people (both trekkers n Dhaba team) not taking the responsibility of disposing the waste appropriately.

    The trekking community should encourage all trekkers not to litter and also educate the Dhaba teams to help keep the trails pristine. It’s a collective responsibility.

  54. No Dhabas are my opinion. I see enough of them in the cities and would want no more of them at-least on the trek trail. People can debate on the points of employment, source of income but I feel that there are better sources of income than a dhaba. We as trekkers also have a responsibility as these are the result of our demands of having snacks, food while being on the trek. Better to carry the food and manage the garbage ourself rather than eating in a dhaba and adding to the litter.

  55. Hi believe there should be NO Dhaba’s on Trek as it defies the whole purpose of trek as per below:

    1. Trek keeps you away from your normal convenient life that makes you resilient
    2. Living without/minimal things like internet, gadgets which makes you realise life can be lived without such things or it’s not limited to gadgets.
    3. We don’t value the food that our parents make so while on trek we get feel the sense of gratitude towards parents.
    Lastly, the food prepared on trek is with lot of love, care and efforts which we will not value if our stomach is full with Packet Foods…!

  56. I have never eaten anything in these dhabas except for hot water for making green tea. I would suggest that dhabas to remain for the following reasons:
    1. Not everybody is a perfect trekkers in there first trek. So, these dhabas may help them to get food like omlette, tea, etc. Or offer some break in a long trek.
    2. These dhabas may provide some emergency help, especially for solo trekkers.
    Of course, serenity of the green trails to be maintained.

  57. I think there should a regulation kind of thing about no. of shops that can spring up at a place on the route. If completely abolished, the not-so-organized trekkers will have no option for refreshments. It feels fresh when you can sit at places and sip in some tea. Long hikes gets really stressful and makes you hungry.
    About littering, organized trek leaders should make sure the team does not leave behind any kind of waste that’s not organic and maintain the tranquility of the nature. For self trekkers too, the guides should be aware that they should not leave behind wastes. I think government can take initiative to reinforce these among the guides.

  58. Just the headlines of this topic is enough to get to a conclusion that its turning out to be a picnic spot of sorts(if not worse), which is alarmingly bad news. It might not be the right thing to compare but if you’re from around Bengaluru, you very well know what we did to Nandi Hills.
    There are perks and cons to commercialization is this case(The Himalayas). Over doing it makes the place loose its charm, knowing what kind of people we are and the crowd, dirt, vibes and plastic that get discarded all over.
    The whole scene and vibe of being away from civilization and man made things is one of the reasons we trekkers go there in the first place. Its The Himalayas for a reason, little hamlets, away from civilization, all nature, serene views and what not. Lets not think about “people’s income” for once. Lets get to the core reason we visit there, its beyond words and simple reasoning.
    And this shouldn’t be just another healthy debate because these things only lead to bad news later on and time will tell. And all we’ll be doing then is blame and argue over irreversible actions.
    Kind Regards

  59. As a race, we have not evolved enough to be collectively responsible towards nature. Therefore, in my opinion, dhabas should strictly not be allowed in pristine areas. That should be the starting point, and then, other suggestions regarding stricter regulations for waste management and educating/awareness-creation can be done.

  60. In my view, let the treks have the sanctity and solitude they have. This is sacred to the environment of a trek. Wilderness of the trek is what keeps an x-factor around it, we must protect it. Having something like tea stall available on trek might give you a short term excitement but how will one start looking through the wider lens of life then?

  61. In my opinion IndiaHikes (IH) and other trekking communities should provide all kind of employments to the locals.

    Firstly, By taking ownership of the dhabas you can provide employments to local as a cook or as helper or cleaner in dhabas. Prepare food according to hygiene standards of IH. This way other Trekkers can also enjoy the healthy food that IH serves to their trekkers.

    Secondly, other locals who can not help in dhabas or kitchen can be employed under Green Trails where in they will tasked to keep mountains clean. They should be trained to understand the trash and should be facilitated by with all the necessary equipments to collect and segregate the trash. And should be paid for their hard work.

    Thirdly, IH can help locals by improving their skillsets. By giving them communication lessons in English they better enabled to communicate with trekkers. Later by training them as Assistant Trek Leader and Trek Leader would really encourage them and not just used as local helpers. By training them for basic medical help so that they can help Trek Leaders in case of Medical emergency, this way trekkers would feel more safe.

  62. It’s about an option. It’s true that it is one of the employment options for local but not the only one.
    Few trekkers found these dhabas blessing in disguise when they saw them in midst of Himalaya.
    They are not trekkers they are customers who are opting the option provided by local people up on trail.
    If there is no option, customer won’t take it. Until and unless we don’t give them the trekkers an option to buy food there will not any plastic pollution an no more landfill.

  63. Dhabas are a strict No No. Even if it gives employment opportunities to local people, it should be replaced with home cooked food and refreshment. The trekkers should be encouraged to taste the local delights and absorb their culture, then only the true purpose of trekking will be served. Trekkers should refrain from accepting any packaged materials from local people and stress on providing them local home grown foods. Only if responsible trekkers show more affinity to organic and local grown items than maggi or packed items which they easily get at their native place, and they actually do not need to climb that high for those junks which are devastating both for the environment as well as their body, then only the demand can be reduced and so will be the supply which shall reflect in cleaner environment and trekking routes without any plastic trash. After all serene nature is all we trekkers want to see and experience to rejuvenate our body, mind and soul. So it should be the duty and responsibility of the trekkers to refrain the localities from setting up dhabas and serving packaged junks. The locals should be encouraged by the trekkers to serve them home grown staffs which shall be fresh and requires no packaging.

  64. For once I do agree with the opinion of IH to reduce trash/litter on the trekking trails and I also appreciate their green trails initiative.

    But saying that dhabbas on the trail are an eyesore is off the limits. IH runs its own business in the mountains and this just proves that they can do their business but not the locals.

    I have been to Brahmatal recently and I came across 3 dhabbas on the trail and they’re were all a blessing. Firstly these dhabbas are not commercial dhabbas. They’re run by locals to earn a few bucks and they are built with simplest of things using wood and stones. The people that run dhabbas are very well aware about the waste that could happen so they did have dustbins to collect litter and lastly when the weather is not in your favour while you’re on the trail, trust me every trekker wants to get some rest under a roof with some camp fire and snacks.

    So it’s too judgemental and harsh view from IH to say that dhabbas on a trek are eyesore, they add up the litter and it’s not encouraging and supporting the locals.

  65. Yes and No
    Yes – in a way should something happen while trekking, there will be people to help / assist the climbers
    like Shelter / water / Clothing / food and emergency assistance
    2No , because they will spoil the beauty of the surroundings , and take the best views away from trekkers
    From my experience, once going to Goa by luxury bus from Mumbai to Goa. while on the way through the
    beautiful mountains , the stunning views were blocked by these huge advertisement – it was so sad that I could not take any pics. And when I was at Gorepani these new hotels blocked th most stunning views of the Himalayas. It becomes the view and ownership of th hotel owners and trkkers don’t benefit – really sad

  66. Dhabas are surely an eyesore on treks however at times they are absolute requirements for trekkers especially on very high altitude. Tea etc helps trekkers get some boost on those high altitudes especially knowing the fact that all trekkers are not from same built or state of mind. Dhabas but in very limited numbers may be fine as long as there is no over crowding and some earning for the locals.

  67. On this debate about dhabas, i want to draw attention to the issue of food that we consume on treks. How healthy is that food? How can organisations like IH revolutionize food served during treks? Trekkers can actually look forward to the food as much as the trek then. Imagine food that’s as fresh as the mountain air and as green as the bugyals we walk on – dhabas will vanish because trekkers would have such great food options at their disposal. e.g. sprouted moong/ chanas, salads washed with mountain water, cottage cheese (paneer). Am sure you are thinking hygiene and cooked vs raw. I am thinking great food that resonates with a Himalayan Trek.

    1. Hi Manas, that’s an interesting thought. We have actually put a lot of thought into the food we serve. We have researched on the nutritional intake required by trekkers and put our menu together. We also have done away with most things that require packaging in our menu. Do throw in some suggestions on what you think may work.

  68. Dhabas don’t pollute. Trekkers pollute.
    There are hostels and restaurants all along the way on the Everest trek. They are well patronized and often a resting place with tables, benches, and lodging. Keep in mind that the Everest base camp was once full of trash and abandoned oxygen tanks (often along the way up) left there by serious climbers and their commercial guides. Education and training has solved much of this problem. Don’t the dehabas folks who are running these businesses! It is we who are to blame for trail trash. Does anyone recall what the locals call the little poop piles that are topped off with a bit of used toilet paper (along the trails)? “Trekker temples” and “Prayer piles”!
    While trekking in the Andes, I am often amazed at the effort a local has put out to offer me a candy bar or a soda at altitudes above 1500 feet. One must admire their industry.

  69. Dhabas don’t pollute. Trekkers pollute.
    There are hostels and restaurants all along the way on the Everest trek. They are well patronized and often a resting place with tables, benches, and lodging. Keep in mind that the Everest base camp was once full of trash and abandoned oxygen tanks (often along the way up) left there by serious climbers and their commercial guides. Education and training have solved much of this problem. Don’t the dhabas folks who are running these businesses! It is we who are to blame for trail-trash. Does anyone recall what the locals call the little poop piles that are topped off with a bit of used toilet paper (along the trails)? “Trekker temples” and “Prayer piles”!
    While trekking in the Andes, I am often amazed at the effort a local has put out to offer me a candy bar or a soda at altitudes above 1500 feet. One must admire their industry.

  70. I think the dhabas are run by locals and to be honest it is quite difficult to set in the mountain diet directly.
    At the same time, it is also necessary to maintain the ecosystem and cleanliness of the mountain. so if people will restrict their needs and uses dhabas less on the trails then it will also reduce the number of dhabas on the trails and also if we collect all the garbage spread by us (Even on the dhabas..!!!)then it will also help the trails. An initiative like green trails for the locals (in major form also by all the trekking agencies, government )will also help us to bear the situation of dhabas in the mountain

  71. 1. Going into the mountains, as trekkers, what we need is the nature at its pristine best and to be able to become one with it.
    2. We also the need the local people & their economy to thrive too.
    3. What we dont need is the human-induced pollution.
    4. What we need to find is a solution to this co-existence of man & nature without the side-effect of a carbon footprint.

  72. Of course not, only companies like India hikes deserve to profit out of trek routes. Dhabas are an eyesore. The rows after rows of tents and trekkers aren’t.

  73. I think if the dhabas are offering us some local cuisine or local pahadi flavour then i don’t mind having them at all. We cannot deny these locals an apportunity to get self employed. We must understand they want to earn money for a better livelihood. What we can do is to educate them and make them understand the importance of cleanliness and ‘swacchata’. A healthy conversation and letting them know the importance of sustainable environement/nature and living should be the way forward. Although i am strictly against commercial dhaba owners who are there only to exploit the situation. But for low income locals we could be more considerate.

  74. I think we should all get concerned about environmental degradation and especially if it is in the fragile region like Himalaya. But, I must say, blaming few dhabas for that is like blaming traditional forest dwellers for destruction of forests; whereas big industrialists are given free hand for enviornmental loots. Commercialization of trekking roots is the biggest culprit for destruction of sacredness of Himalaya and undoubtedly India Hike can not escape from its responsibility. Being a past India Hike trekker, I have seen first hand how irresponsible many of the ametures whom India hike brings and they don’t have iota of respect for ecosystem and in that respect, greentrail campaign of Indiahike is just like a big multinational car company is funding campaign against air pollution.

    And talking about alternative occupations for the dhana owners; I will ask owner of the India Hike; why they didn’t choose an alternative profession. I think simple and honest answer is
    profit and opportunity. In the same way, we should respect the wisdom of dhaba owners. But I agree dhabas can be serious eyesore in a trekk trail but same way multiple tents of Indiahike or crowd of 30-40 people in that pristine land.

  75. It doesn’t matter what like or dont like or what we think or not think; and no matter how much we debate and coment on this subject; the fact of the matter is that dhabas are bound to come up and they will appear more and more trek routes because that is what a poor local villager is doing to beat a system that is not helping him at all. So the question is how do we come to terms with this? Simple…. accept this fact and be prepared to coexist and trek with more such dhabas which later, in the near future, will convert into Tea House like those present in treks in Nepal that replace tents and camps with home stays.

  76. While being in Lohajung I have seen Indiahikes collecting waste not only from the trek but also all around the villages. The dhabas on the trek do provide livelihood to many of the locals but the key issue lies in waste management. If trekkers like us are more concerned with what we ask for, we will help these people promote sustainability.

  77. I think there should be no dhabas. I totally agree that seeing them is an eye sore and once encouraged..more will crop up.
    Job oppurtunities is no excuse either as they can pick up other jobs other than running dhabas.
    The Himalayas need to be preserved and kept as pristine as ever.

  78. Absolutely no to Dhabas on any trek. Every trek pushes us to out of our comfort zone. We came here to spend quality n unforgettable time with nature.

    Don’t wanna see that daily lifestyle, everyone should learn..actual survival skills during trek..
    I’m damn sure..u won’t regret & find another angel of life.

  79. I personally think it’s not quite necessary. One, we carry snacks like nuts/granola bars. Two, I was always stuffed to the brim with the food IH provides; I barely had space in my tummy despite the climb and loss of energy. We can carry the ones we “need” and consume those alone.

    It’s definitely possible to make a trek without the dhabas as they are just too fancy for a trek per se. Sitting on a small cliff with a friend at a campsite, watching the mountains and doing nothing is what treks are all about! If we wanted to do the same thing as in our cities, we might have as well continued it there instead!

  80. How about training the dhabha wallahs.
    Maybe help them have a spread that is local and nourishing?
    Maybe the trek is not a race.
    Is it too bad if it is a bit of a picnic?

    1. That’s actually a part of our plan this year! To train dhaba wallahs to segregate and manage their waste well. Also to encourage them to use more local produce in their menu than packaged food. 🙂

  81. You guys are serious, right?
    You are worried that the pristine treks are getting spoilt by locally run dhabhas?
    It was pristine before trekkers showed up.
    Trek groups that and kept building bigger and bigger businesses.
    The locals were always there.
    You came and messed it up. Now dont say they did.
    Will YOU cap the number of people you will trek with in a year say to 500?
    Why not? How come your 16000 a year makes no impact, his business does?
    Really worried? Stop your trekking business!
    Dhabhas will go away.

  82. yess, dhabas are welcome on trek for following reasons:
    1. they are very helpful for trekkers who love to venture on their own, without help from trekking agencies.
    2. they are income source for locals, but they should be encouraged to not litter and provide local foods.

  83. Trekking has become a fashion statement in corporates and college campuses due to easier trek routes developed by agencies and more number of days to climb. Also most organisations these dates mandate to consume a minimum of your years leave. College students have abundance of holidays . Hence ratio of serious trekkers to the rest has become lopsided. Who to blame? Dhabas will not draw serious trekkers , nature lovers , photographers etc but this population would be few. I did Killanjaro in Jan 18 , 6 days of single minded focus and food was not on top of the list . No dhaba is my vote

  84. Big No No!

    1. First and foremost- The garbage generated! It feels so bad and dirty to see plastic bags, wrappers, bottles and papers lying around amongst beautiful nature! The dhabas on highways or roads have a system to dispose the garbage, but the dhabbas in the hills and mountains just leave majority of the garbage behind!

    2. The purpose of trek is to be close to the unspoiled Nature….to be away from the regular material world. It is an experience to see vast stretch of beautiful landscape all around you! Having dhaabas in between, kind of ruins that view!

    3. Treks are physically challenging….but once you reach your camp, you have an enormous sense of achievement! This is because of the journey you took. Taking picnic halts will break your pace and take away the joy.

    4. Most food served on the Dhabas in the mountains is unhealthy. They are packed goods. So avoid them for your own good!

  85. I believe that the matter we’re discussing is of a personal affair it might sound a little weird but it’s true. How? let me explain to you. Everybody, Who is now talking about cleanliness on the trails is internally biased by personal preference.
    People who are in favour of ‘Dhabas’ on the trails they are seeing them as a lifeline when their empty stomach crave for food. Even for the solo travellers, these spots play a very significant role to complete their treks successfully when they stuck in somewhere. These ‘Dhabas’ work as signages for solo trekkers having no backup support or experiential guidance.
    Now, For people who are opposing them, they want to feel Nature in its raw form without any disturbance. They believe that why do we need to eat these packaged food items while on the trek. In fact, there is no need too. After all, out of all the disturbances, garbage or litter is on the top list.

    And the ‘Dhabas’, they actually don’t need to be there if people don’t need them. They are the local people who find an opportunity to earn some money from the trekkers. This is the pretty reason why they are there. They don’t earn millions out of it but mere few bucks to feed their families.

    While talking on all these kinds of stuff we forgot to hear one side. It’s the side of Nature who didn’t invite anyone to come and spoil it. And this “Anyone” comprises everyone on Earth.
    100% Sustainable Adventure Tourism is not possible at least till now because we don’t have “Blueprints of Nature”. So it’s better to start hearing the concerns of nature being as a Responsible Nature Lover.

    People say, “Nature is a gift of God”. If it is so then It’s for all.

  86. I vote for a No..For me a Trek is a form of
    dis-engagement from the hum drum routine, eating out etc and I agree with one of the fellow trekkers in one of the above posts that it is not a picnic. The basic stuff which a Dhaba would provide is provided by India Hikes anyways..I am not trekking to satiate my taste buds..It is food for soul not for stomach 🙂