The Rural Uttarakhand
“Bedu Pako Bara Masa” goes the line of a folk song, translating to land of our Garhwal (hills), how absolutely beautiful it is. And there’s not a bit of exaggeration in it, for when you wake up to tea brewed with chamomile flowers while getting the first rays of sun on your Himalayan house’s front yard, eat chapati made from nutritious Mandua, drink Burans’ juice to quench your thirst, have jhangore-ki-kheer (barnyard millet rice pudding) for desert and then doze off with a view of a clear and starry sky, you are bound to have an experience of the real, and the rural, Uttarakhand.
The state is famously known as The Land of Gods, but the reason fast is becoming the migration of people from villages to urban centres, leaving behind ghost villages and lands to the village shrines and deities.
Commenting that these people do not care about preserving the cultural heritage of the state is an elitist view, when many villages still lack connectivity to healthcare and education, which they seek when they finally move away from their hilly abodes.
Last year, a documentary titled Moti Bagh made it to the Oscars, highlighting the migration problem in the state along with xenophobia which the incoming Bihari and Nepali folks have to face. Keeping in mind the state of rural Uttarakhand, government and people alike have shifted their focus back to villages and promotion of rural tourism, which would help in reverse migration as well as save people from not getting intimidated in order to fit in with the world outside.
Let’s dive into the real Uttarakhand waiting for you with their famous hospitality and warm nature on a cold hilly top. Our quest for surreal simplicity first takes us to the village of Bigul, which has a rather interesting story associated with its name which dates back to the British rule. When their army used to visit the area to collect their dugna lagaan i.e. tax, they’d blow an instrument called Bugle/ Biguls to inform the surrounding villages.
And thus this village nestled in the pine forests 32 km from Bageshwar, became a place of importance while simultaneously offering majestic views of peaks of Nanda Devi and Panchachuli. A must visit place here is the Dholinag (Shiva) temple. Nearest railway station is Kathgodam (212 km) and the nearest airport is at Pantnagar (238 km).
Welcome to the
model tourist village
Next on the list is one village which is being developed by the state government itself as a model tourist village. Situated in the Mori block of Uttarkashi near the Govind National Park entrance, is the village of Jakhol.
This village, with its traditional wooden houses and a backyard full of apple trees, has a good presence of schools, post office and medical centres. You can catch direct buses from Dehradun to Sankri and drop at a diversion just 3.5 km before the final destination. Nearest railway station and airport, both are present in Dehradun.
The most interesting legend associated with it is the belief of the villagers that they’re ancestors of Kauravas, from the great Indian epic Mahabharata! & thus, lies the famous temple dedicated to Duryodhan, one of the Kauravas. If you’re also a trekking enthusiast, Jakhol acts as your base camp to the Jakhol-Devkyara trek, an absolute trekker’s delight where you can enjoy the view to Swargrohini, Bandarpunch & Black Peak.
Traditional and Cultural
way of celebrating Holi
You must have heard of the festival of Holi, where people play with colors and water. But have you witnessed a Holi of buttermilk and milk?
If you didn't witness the buttermilk Holi then get ready to witness this in Dayara Bugyal, Uttarkashi, where nearby villages celebrate this butter festival called Anduri in the month of June. A Bugyal is an alpine meadow in higher elevation ranges. Dayara Bugyal at a height of 3048 mts is one such pasture land. Barsu is the last village before the trek to this bugyal and thus serves as the base camp.
Gidara Bugyal is another trek you can start off from here. Descend 24 kms down this village and you’ll come across the beautiful Dodital lake amidst a blanket of Oak and Pine trees.