In Loving Memory

Raka Gupta

Raka is the Co-Director of HICHS and adds advice and warmth to the Institute. She is artistic, dabbles with poetry and has been a sculptor.  While accompanying her husband in diplomatic missions, Raka taught at different international schools. With her warmth, experience, and knowledge, she guides us all into making HICHS a better organization.

Our Core Team

Sonali Gupta

Dr. Sonali Gupta is an anthropological archaeologist, a lawyer, and the founding Director of the Himalayan Institute of Cultural and Heritage Studies (HICHS) in the beautiful and picturesque Kullu valley in the Himalayas.  She earned her BA and MA in history from the University of Delhi followed by a law degree. She practiced criminal law for six years after which she gave it all up for the love of archaeology. She completed her Ph.D. (Egyptian Archaeology) from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (CIOA)at the University of California, Los Angeles. She simultaneously evolved as a researcher and practitioner of South Asian and Southeast Asian anthropological archaeology focusing on various aspects of cultural transmission both tangible and intangible.
Dr. Gupta has taught at UCLA, the National Museum Institute, New Delhi and has been the Director of Public Programs for the CIOA.  She was also awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the CIOA where she researched the Iban Textiles of Borneo.  She also started the first ever non- invasive archaeological field school in India along with Dr. Parth Chauhan.  Dr. Gupta is invested in making HICHS a platform where the academic meets the non-academic and carrying out cutting edge research in and for the Himalayas.

Parth Chauhan

Dr. Parth R. Chauhan has been a part of HICHS right from its infancy.  He along with Dr. Sonali Gupta started the first ever non- invasive archaeological field school in India.  Dr. Chauhan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali. He completed his PhD in Archaeology from the UK, his MA in Ancient Indian History & Archaeology from India, and his BA in Anthropology from the US. He specializes in Indian prehistory and various sub-disciplines including stone tool technology and rock art and is currently carrying out research in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Himachal Pradesh. Dr. Chauhan brings with him his wide experience in archaeology making HICHS further enriched and wiser. He continues to be a co-director of major HICHS projects.

Rajoli Ghosh

Rajoli Ghosh is the recipient of the Avninder Kanan Research Scholar for the year 2021-22 at HICHS. She has been focusing on the cultural and traditional crop systems of the villages situated in and around the Katrain Region. Previously she studied the indigenous food systems of the Eastern Himalayan Region which was a requirement to complete her Masters in Environment and Development degree from Ambedkar University Delhi. She brings in her creative abilities helping HICHS grow each day. In her leisurely time she like to hike, sketch, birdwatch and paint to enrich her quality of life.

Rudra Agarwal

Rudra is the youngest in the team, an ‘artist in residence’ and is the “Go to” person for rocks and gems of the Himalayas and even dinosaurs.  With his happy and naughty demeanor, he keeps HICHS on its toes.

Reena Solanki

Reena has a B.Sc. in Nursing and has had 3 years of experience in nursing in hospitals. She is an excellent nurse who ensures the well-being of her patients. She has been with HICHS for the past 2 years, and with her Maratha attitude, it has been a pleasure to have her with us.

Vanilla manages hospitality for our transit point and is most trusted
being an extension of HICHS in New Delhi.


On the academic front, With the onset of the pandemic, we have had about eighty virtual lectures completed for our ‘Unlocked series’ where scholars from around the world share their research on the Himalayas or on concepts relating to archaeology and anthropology via the Zoom platform. The lectures may be accessed on our HICHS YouTube channel.

A peer reviewed Journal of Himalayan Institute of Cultural and Heritage Studies with articles contributed by all the scholars on our forum for the benefit of those who work in the Himalayas.

  • Himalayan myth and reality and Materiality and Memory (IFR).
  • Transhumance in the Himalayas
    (With Dr. Ania Kotorba, Flinders University- Grant from the Australian Government under the New Colombo Plan).
  • Kullu Valley Project
    Exploration and Survey of the Kullu valley under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Himachal Pradesh State Government.

Neeraj Vir, a friend from my school days sponsored our laboratory Jigyasa, named in the spirit of scientific enquiry. We have since procured a digital microscope, and other lab equipment.  

Dr. Avneet Singh of the Max Planck Institute, Germany has generously sponsored the website work and digital research while

 Mr. Shri Agarwal of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, USA. has sponsored research work that will be taken up in January 2022.   

Books have been generously donated by Dr. S.C. Malik, Kanchan Dhar, Jenny Wolkowicki, Mahima Mehra, Lalitha, Dr. Saif Mahmood and Dr. Zarina Bhatty.

Chai ki Dukan, a bi-monthly café- at the Institute, a platform for the exchange of intangible cultural heritage. We invite elders of the town to share local legends, tales, and myths.

Pottery kiln: to resurrect the art of pottery making in the region

Weaving loom: to teach about local textiles.

Documentary screenings: We screen documentaries made by freelancers with a passion in their respective fields. The local community is an integral part of this endeavor where they learn about their past and sustainable present through our research.

Jigyasa:  a well-equipped laboratory and library for researchers from around the world made possible due to Neeraj Vir, our sponsor.

 Sanskriti: a free library for village children made possible due to Joginder Rohilla to inculcate reading habits, storytelling, art, and culture sessions.  

Our Advisory Team

Dr. Anjali Capila

Dr. Anjali capila has a Ph.D. in Community Resource Management and Extension from the University of Delhi. She is the Vice-President of Mountain India People’s Forum and has worked extensively with women in the Himalayan communities. She has taught at Lady Irwin College and given talks at various national and international forums. Her book, A River Sings documents the songs of the River Ganga as an anthropological study.

Dr. Capila has also co-authored a book on Community Perspectives on Education, Health and Livelihoods in Talla Ramgarh, Uttarakhand to be released shortly. She is an integral part of HICHS infusing life into the organization through her immense wisdom and experience.

Vijayluxmi Bose

Ms. Bose has an MS in Communication Studies from Emerson College, Boston, USA. She has 30 years’ experience in teaching communication; curriculum development and delivery of health education. She has taught at Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, Indira Gandhi National Open University’s countrywide classroom, and has been an external examiner and guest faculty for the University of Delhi. She has also co-authored a book on Community Perspectives on Education, Health and Livelihoods in Talla Ramgarh, Uttarakhand to be released shortly She brings with her great insight and wisdom guiding HICHS to a better tomorrow. 

Dr Saif Mahmood

Dr Saif Mahmood is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of India with more than two decades of a rich and diverse experience in Indian law. Holding a doctorate in law with specialization in South Asian legal systems and a United Nations Certification in Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), he frequently appears before various Indian Courts and international and domestic arbitral tribunals. He has handled cases, alongside barristers and lawyers, in the High Court of Justice of England and Wales and the Dubai courts. A Visiting Scholar in Law at the University of Oxford and a well-known author and public speaker, he has had the rare honour of being cited by the Supreme Court of India.

Dr Mahmood has successfully handled a wide-variety of legal issues, rendering cutting-edge legal advice to clients for the quickest possible resolution of their disputes. His expertise includes Corporate and Commercial disputes, International Commercial Contracts, Aviation, Infrastructure, Real Estate & Property, Media & Entertainment, Constitutional and Public Law, and litgation involving complex issues of interpretation of statutes and contracts – subjects on which he has handled a wide variety of cases, advised major clients and spoken at numerous conferences and seminars. He has also been consulted on important issues of Islamic Law in India and the Sub-continent and high-profile succession and estate matters.

A niche area that he consults in is Technology Innovation, Investments and Business Development in the India-UK-UAE corridor. He has a deep understanding of not just law and business but also of the Indo-UK-UAE cultural landscape, that helps him assist clients across these countries which helps him build ecosystems of clients who are motivated to enter the Indian market.