Project Description

In light of a changing COVID-19 landscape, including the rapid spread of more contagious Delta and Omicron variants, and in accordance with the recommendation of national medical experts, IFR policy requires that prior to traveling, all field school students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 AND receive a booster shot, if eligible. If you intend to participate in an IFR program this summer, we strongly encourage you to schedule your vaccination appointment as soon as possible.

All IFR field school applicants should familiarize themselves with IFR COVID-19 Practices before beginning the enrollment process. Program logistics are subject to change as health and risk management experts provide new recommendations and best practices. Each field school syllabus includes specific information about COVID-19 as related to travel regulations and recommendations, accommodations, local protocols, face mask policy and managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks.

You may want to refer to the following websites to stay informed of COVID-19 case numbers and regulations/policies for India:
CDC: COVID-19 in India


Historical archaeology studies material culture with the aid of historical records. Written records contextualize materiality but may or may not corroborate archaeological evidence. Kullu valley lies in the heart of the Himalayas in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh and is rich in archaeological sites and historical records relating to the sites. The valley is a focal point for many ancient myths in the Himalayas. As texts were frequently revised and chronologically problematic, an assessment of myths and their reality cannot be done on the basis of textual sources alone. There is an absence of early historic excavated sites in the valley, therefore, a historical archaeology and applied anthropological approach is useful for the study of religious art, architecture, oral traditions within the context of the landscape. Such an approach aids in evaluating the manifestation of myths and their reality in the Kullu valley.

The research goals aim at understanding the role of myths in the Kullu valley and how they influence architecture, rituals and use of space. The project will also help understand the interaction of contemporary people with sacred sites in the Himalayas where such myths are depicted and form a part of their daily life.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: July 18 – August 17, 2022

  • Enrollment Status: Closed

  • Total Cost: $4,330

  • Course Type: Ethnohistorical Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 15, 2022

  • Instructors: Dr. Sonali Gupta-agarwal and Dr. Parth Chauhan

  • Online Orientation: June 12, 2022 at 9am PT / 12 pm ET / 9:30 pm IST

  • Academic Credit: 8 Semester Credit Units (equivalent to 12 Quarter Units)

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The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Sonali Gupta-agarwal
Dr. Sonali Gupta-agarwal
Dr. Gupta-agarwal is the Director of the Himalayan Institute of Cultural and Heritage Studies and an alumni of the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
Dr. Parth Chauhan
Dr. Parth Chauhan
Dr. Chauhan is an Assistant Professor of Humanities & Social Science at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research at Mohali, India


The IFR Field School, India: Himalayan Myth and Reality, was a wonderful experience that will count among the most impactful episodes of my life. Through this program, I had the opportunity to return to Himachal Pradesh for the second time, a landscape and cultural setting that I first fell in love with in the Summer of 2016. The structure of the Field School was both relaxing and rigorous and was brought to life by the personability and professionalism of its directors, Dr. Sonali Gupta-Agarwal and Dr. Parth Chauhan. From our picturesque lodging surrounded by the Himalayas of the stunning Kullu Valley, to the delicious home-cooked food and warming personality of our host, I could not have felt more at ease and welcome. Visiting about the temples of the region, learning about their history and connection with the surrounding communities, and getting experience their beautiful architecture was both an honor and a delight. If you enjoy experiential learning and immersing yourself in new cultural landscapes, then I could not recommend this Field School more highly.
Austin Jacques, University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Himalayan field school was my first opportunity to visit India. I’ll admit, my previous knowledge was rudimentary at best. However, by the time I left I had a grasp of India’s past, present, and future. The teachers were fountains of knowledge and always open for questions and conversations. I got the opportunity to learn and participate in things beyond anything I have ever experienced. Not to mention gazing at the Himalayas for a whole month is a pretty cool way to study. The field school was filled with wonderful days surrounded by good people, I was sad to leave! 10/10 would definitely recommend.
Shayna Stewart, Oregon State University
It would be hard, in my opinion, to sum up, the experience of a lifetime. The Himalayan Field School provided an excellent learning opportunity. This presented itself in the form of totally immersing myself in a different culture, learning how to observe said culture through an anthropological lens, conducting interviews, and on gaining insight to the rich history of this area itself. The ethnoarchaeology format of this field school was unique in the manner in which it attempted to understand the past. The combination of studying material culture of the past along with observing how the same material culture is in use today, helped me realise how valuable preserving one’s cultural values is. By surveying the manner in which locals interacted with the temples that we were studying allowed me to create a more wholesome mental image of the importance and use of these same temples in the past. This field school has proven to be a great stepping stone in learning how to be sensitive when interacting with a different culture, learning the significance of ethnographies, and most importantly creating relations with people I’ll value forever.
Tanya Saigal, Franklin & Marshall College

Tuition Includes:

  • Cost of Instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credits Units
  • Room & Board
  • All Local Transportation
  • Health & Evacuation Insurance

Student Fees

This program requires an online application — there is a $25 fee to submit an application. Once admitted, a payment of the nonrefundable deposit fee is required to secure a place in the program(s). The Tuition balance (total program cost minus the deposit fee) must be paid prior to the Tuition deadline as listed above under “Course Details.” A $100 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the Tuition deadline.

Deposit: A nonrefundable $500 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. This deposit is part of the total Tuition and NOT in addition to it.

Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy: If you paid the deposit fee but did not cancel your participation by the Tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full Tuition regardless of attendance at any IFR program. Please carefully read our Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy for further information. In the event that IFR must cancel a field school, all accepted students will be notified as soon as possible and will receive a refund of all tuition paid including the deposit fee. IFR offers students the opportunity to transfer to another field school, permitting that there are spots available and the program director approves the student to participate in their field school. Upon approval of the program director, IFR staff will make the arrangements to transfer the student’s application and payments.

Credit Card Processing Fee: A 3.5% processing fee is automatically incurred for all credit/debit card/online payments.

Academic Credit Opt Out: Students who wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credit units may do so and receive the following discounts: $300 off a full program (4 or more weeks in length) or $200 off a short program (2-3 weeks in length).

Trip Cancellation Insurance: Please consider purchasing a travel interruption insurance policy that will cover your travel cost and the cost of the IFR program once you make a commitment to attend a field school.

The added risk of COVID-19  should be a “covered event” in your policy.
Please note that the cost of coverage varies, based on your age, the program duration and geographical location.
You may get help and advice from your insurance broker and we offer the links below to help you educate yourself on these insurance products.
Travel Insured International offers coverage for Trip Cancellation or Interruption for Any Reason (review coverage based on your state).
– Compare quotes from different companies offering Trip Cancelation insurance plans.


The housing facilities are comfortable. The location is nestled in Jonga, a beautiful village set against      the backdrop of the Dhauladhar and Pirpanjal mountain ranges in the Himalayas. The property is bounded by Himalayan cedar and fruit trees. Students will be housed in spacious cottages, where each cottage can accommodate 2 individuals. The cottages are large enough, most having separate sections to allow social distancing. The cottages are situated on a hill with an enclosed peripheral wall away from the community.

Each cottage has internet connectivity, television, a kitchen with a burner, a tea facility, bottled water, a refrigerator, and solar powered hot water. The beds are comfortable, and bedding/linens will be provided.  The classroom is a traditional Himalayan-style structure built with Himalayan cedar and a splendid view. The classroom also houses a vast library to support students research, as well as a printer and internet service.  The field school will ensure regular cleaning of the housing facility at least twice a day to ensure safety and cleanliness.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner on workdays will be served in the common dining area at designated hours. The dining chairs will be spaced out following COVID Protocol. Utensils will be disposable allowing less contact and contamination. The cooks are equipped to cook a variety of food options both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, local and international cuisine and can easily accommodate vegans or lactose intolerant meals. The cooks would need to know dietary restrictions and preferences beforehand to accommodate diets. Beef is the only item which will not be provided.

Tuesdays being days off, students may order reasonably priced food at the facility. Laundry services are available at nominal cost. The local market and cafes are located at walking distance with beautiful hikes and trails nearby.

Travel Info

Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding the travel regulations related to COVID-19, IFR will assess the local conditions closer to the travel date (5-6 weeks prior to the program beginning) and will make Go/No Go decisions then. We urge you to participate in the mandatory orientation meeting when we will discuss the latest travel information and regulations. We also suggest you consider postponing the purchase of your airline ticket until after the program orientation.    

This program is based in Jonga, India. Students traveling from the United States should purchase a ticket to New Delhi which is about a one-hour flight (or a 12-hour drive) from Kullu (Bhuntar). On arrival in New Delhi, students are permitted to travel to Kullu via a one-hour direct flight from IGI Domestic Airport, New Delhi, to Bhuntar, Kullu

Please arrive at the Kullu-Manali airport (KUU) on July 18th, 2022. Program staff will meet arriving students at the airport. Students will then be driven to the housing facilities located at Jong Village, Katrain, approximately a 45-minute drive. Please wait at the airport until a project member comes for you. We will have separate cars and two students per car. The windows will be kept open, and students will wear face masks at all times.

A summary of current travel requirements (as of December 2021) are provided below. However, students should consult the US Embassy in India for up-to-date requirements for travelers to India:

  • As of February 22, 2021, all international travelers arriving in India, regardless of vaccination status, must upload a negative RT-PCR report to the Air Suvidha portal taken within 72 hours of the start of their journey.  Additional testing on entry/quarantine may apply depending on nationality or country of embarkment/transit.
  • All international passengers must visit and submit a self-declaration form at least 72 hours prior to departure for India.  Travelers who are fully vaccinated and wish to partake of quarantine relaxations must also upload a copy of their vaccine certificate to the Air Suvidha Portal.
  • Health screening procedures are in place at airports and other ports of entry. The type of screening depends upon where the traveler is coming from and/or transiting through and their vaccination status.
    • All travelers, regardless of point of origin, will undergo thermal screening upon arrival.  Symptomatic travelers will be isolated and re-tested.
    • Travelers from most countries, regardless of vaccination status, will be permitted to depart the airport without further screening and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival.
    • Travelers coming from or transiting through locations listed as, which do not have a vaccination agreement with India, will have to undergo another COVID-19 test (rapid or PCR) upon arrival to India. Travelers with negative tests will be required to home quarantine for seven (7) days, retest on the eighth day, and continue to self-monitor for an additional seven (7) days.  Travelers who test positive will be held in stringent isolation.
    • The list of “Countries At-Risk” and those that have an agreement with India are updated regularly.  Travelers should confirm the status of the country they are traveling from/transiting through prior to travel.
  • If an arriving passenger is found to be COVID positive, they will be sent to 14 days institutional quarantine. The student will call the Director using the local call facility available at the Institutional Quarantine Center.

Contact information for the Director and program staff will be shared during the pre-travel program orientation.

It is recommended that the students only come by flight or cab and not by bus where the risk of contracting COVID-19 may be high.

Students and staff will travel from the field camp to the field site daily in separate vehicles. We will have 7-seater SUV’s and will have 4 students in each vehicle. Occupants will wear face masks at all times. Staff will be in the vehicle behind.

If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, call, text or email the project director A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.


Students attending this program can come on an e-Tourist visa.

Indian Tourist e- Visa may be obtained by going to the following site:

U.S. citizens of Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent are subject to administrative processing and should expect additional delays when applying for Indian visas.

On reaching the field school site, the student has to register with the local foreign registration office (The field Directors will facilitate the office visit).

Citizens of other countries are asked to check the embassy website page at their home country for specific visa requirements.

Student Safety

The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and conducting field research involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of education provided. While risk is inherent in everything we do, we do not take risk lightly. The IFR engages in intensive review of each field school location prior to approval. Once a program is accepted, the IFR reviews each program annually to make sure it complies with all our standards and policies, including student safety.

Students attending IFR international programs are covered by a comprehensive Health Insurance policy that includes physical illness or injury, mental or chronic conditions. No deductible and 100% of costs are covered up to $250,000. In addition, we provide Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation policy, which allow us to remove students from field school location if local conditions change. Our field school directors are scholars that know field school locations and cultures well and are plugged in into local communities and state institution structures.

Students attending IFR domestic programs (within the US) must have their own health insurance and present proof of insurance upon enrollment. IFR field school directors are familiar with local authorities and if in need of evacuation, local emergency services and/or law enforcement will be notified and activated.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field. If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students may contact IFR personnel directly.

Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.