Gorchha I- Overview: A little known Gem in the Himalayas

Tripoto
13th Apr 2018

The sun rises over Gorchcha

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview: A little known Gem in the Himalayas by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 1/41 by Rupa Abdi
The day begins at Gorchha

Tired of the beaten Mussourie-Manali circuit ? Looking for both quiet and peace away from the madding crowd as well as a little adventure ? Fond of birds and bees ? Want a taste of the local culture? Then Gorchcha village is the place for you !!

Nestled in the Shivalik range of outer Himalayas, this little known gem lies at the border of Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand in Chakrata Tehsil. Gorchha is 4-5 hours drive from Dehra Dun.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 2/41 by Rupa Abdi

It is inhabited by Jaunsaris, a community of people who claim an intriguing ethnic lineage distinct from the larger population of Garhwalis and Kumaonis of Uttrakhand. They speak Jaunsari, a language distinct from the local dialects of Uttrakhand. There could be some truth to this claim as they look distinctly different from other 'pahari' people of this state.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 3/41 by Rupa Abdi
Jaunsari teenagers

The simple folk of this village live off the land. Commercialization of the cities has not reached them and without any thought for profit they invite visitors with open arms for a cup of tea in their humble abodes.

We visited in the month of April, when the weather varied from cool to chilly with occasional rain storms. The wheat fields were still young as they swayed in the stormy winds in waves of green. The apple orchards were decked with soft pink flowers which looked like Cherry blossoms from a distance. Tomatoes were in various stages of being planted and watered. The village with its terraced farms and fields is surrounded by a garland of hills with the snow covered glossy peaks of Himalayas rising up in the background.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 4/41 by Rupa Abdi
Apple trees with the Himalayan range in the background

Day 1.

We were fortunate enough to reach Gorchha on the day of their Vishu or Bissu festival. It marks the beginning of solar year and the harvest of rabbi crops. The menfolk gather at the village temple of Mahasu (incarnation of Lord Shiva) to offer prayers and Rhododendron flowers at the altar. This is followed by music dance and festivities. There is also a mock archery contest and a sword dance by men folk.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 5/41 by Rupa Abdi
The village temple showcases beautiful wooden carvings
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 6/41 by Rupa Abdi
The Dhol, dholki and ransheenga are played at the festivities by the bajgis (traditional muscicians)
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 7/41 by Rupa Abdi
The dance is performed in the village courtyard
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Young girls and boys performing Harul. The traditional Jaunsari dress is not in fashion among them !!
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 9/41 by Rupa Abdi
The mock archery
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Houses in Gorchha showcasing typical Himalayan wood architecture
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Inside one of the wooden houses

Day 2

On the second day we visited the Byar caves which is about 2 km trek and takes any thing between 3 to 6 hours depending on your fitness. This is a moderate trek and can be be attempted even by people in their late 50s and early 60s with the right amount of fitness and motivation !!

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 12/41 by Rupa Abdi
On the way to the cave through apple orchards

The journey to the caves was like a walk through Nature in all its beauty and diversity. There were sunlit paths strewn with cones of Fir, Chir (Pine) and Deodar (Cedar). The trees themselves grew tall and majestic reaching out to the cloud strewn blue sky. Wild flowers and butterflies swayed in the mountain breeze and Himalayan birds with their shrill yet melodious calls teased us from behind branches. During quieter moments we could hear the constant buzzing of numerous bees that filled the forest air giving an illusion of the sound of a water fall in the distance.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 13/41 by Rupa Abdi
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 14/41 by Rupa Abdi
Cones of Fir, Deodar and Pine strewn along the forest path
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 15/41 by Rupa Abdi
Gorchha village as seen from top
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View along the way to the cave
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View from the top, along the way to Byar cave
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Entrance of the cave

The mouth of the cave was partly covered with ferns and other plants. The cave itself was quite deep, cold and dimly lit. Ancient rocks which had melted and oozed out from the bowels of Earth had cooled to take up grotesque shapes on the cave walls. Our guide, Shri Tikam Singh informed us that in the olden days the Himalayan Black bear could be spotted in these caves.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 19/41 by Rupa Abdi

Evenings were spent enjoying the warm hospitality of Tikam Singh and family who run a home stay in Gorchha.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 20/41 by Rupa Abdi
Tikam Singh's aunt
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Tikam Singh's mother and other lady members of the household looked after us like family

Day 3

The third day consisted of a more challenging trek of 5kms to Moyala top. You pass through the conifers and other Himalayan vegetation to finally reach a Himalayan meadow (known as Bugiyal).

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 22/41 by Rupa Abdi
The meadows of Moyala Top
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On the way to Moyala Top
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Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 25/41 by Rupa Abdi
Beautiful view from Moyala top
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 26/41 by Rupa Abdi
Our guide Shri Tikam Singh at Moyala Top
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Here the mountain peaks play hide and seek with the mist and the clouds.

Here you are closer to heaven and all your earthly worries fade away.

Here the shepherds come with their folk to graze on the nutritious grass.

Here live the memories of old mountain folk who told tales of ghosts, demons and magic around a bonfire on cold wintry nights.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 28/41 by Rupa Abdi
A temple to the gods and grazing sheep at Moyala Top

Gorchha is a heaven for birdwatchers and plant lovers. We spotted numerous varieties of Himalayan birds and wild flowers.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 29/41 by Rupa Abdi
Himalayan Sparrow
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Grey bushchat
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Day 4

We bid farewell to the villagers and family of Tikam Singh who insisted on packing some Apple pickle and locally produced honey for us.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 33/41 by Rupa Abdi
Shri Tikam Singh showing us snow shoes made locally from Goat's hair
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Most houses in the village have this structure to attract and breed bees for honey

On the way we stopped at Kanasar which is a beautiful spot of grassy meadow surrounded by majestic Deodar trees.

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Kanasar

There is also a Kanasar devta temple here. Next to the temple is Deodar tree of circumference 6.35 meters which is known to be Asia’s biggest Deodar tree.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 36/41 by Rupa Abdi
Temple of Kanasar devata
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Record breaking Deodar tree at Kanasar
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This mighty Deodar is telling you something.....

Kanasar is 27 km from Chakrata and 114 kms from Dehradun.

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 39/41 by Rupa Abdi

Next stop was Tiger falls. We took the motor able road which stopped half way along a hill. We walked the rest of the way along terraced fields and a network of streams to Tiger fall whose waters plunged from a height of 312 feet. When we visited this place there were just a few other tourists around us. As we sat quietly at the foot of this huge waterfall , the sound of the gushing water along with the rambling of the flowing streams and the chirping of small birds frolicking in the spray from the water fall, an occasional breeze blowing the cool water spray in our direction- such an ambiance can fill you with reverence for mother Nature and move you to tears...

Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 40/41 by Rupa Abdi
Murmuring mountain stream near Tiger Falls
Photo of Gorchha I- Overview:  A little known  Gem in the Himalayas 41/41 by Rupa Abdi
Tiger Falls

Photo credits: Rupa, Razi and Danish Abdi

Video credits: Rupa Abdi's You Tube channel: Raqs

Travel Tips:

How to get there

Gorchha is 70 kms from Dehra Dun and 400 kms from New Delhi.

We took the Nanda Devi overnight train from Delhi to Dehardun.

Budget travelers can take a bus from Dehra Dun to Vikas Nagar which is about 38 km from Dehra Dun and then hire a cab from Vikas Nagar to Gorchha.

Alternately you could hire a cab from Dehradun to Gorchha which could cost you anywhere between 5000 to 6000 rupees.

You can see Kanasar and Tiger Falls on the way to Gorchha or on your return trip. We visited them on our return trip from Gorchha to Dehra Dun.

When to travel

Gorchcha is known for the freezing temperatures during winters and pleasant climate during summers.

Summers (March to June) are very pleasant with 10 °C (Min) and 30 °C (Max).

Monsoon (July to September) is associated with medium rainfall. This season is characterized by slippery roads and cold winds. Tourists mostly avoid the rainy days.

Winters (December to February) are chilly. During this season, the maximum temperature is below 15 °C and minimum touches -5 °C; it is freezing cold.

Autumn (October and November) is mildly cold.

March to May is the ideal season for outdoor activities. However If the snow fall is good, it is worth experiencing the winter in Gorchha! The month of April is a month of thunder storms, that was when we visited and it was quite beautiful !!

Where to stay

Shri Tikam Singh who runs a homestay at Gorchha village can be contacted through his facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Gorchha-Village-106305010036987/

His contact no. : 91 8447728560

Related posts :

Gorchha II: The landscapes around Gorchha

Gorchha III: The Bisu Festival

Gorchha IV: People of Gorchha,at work and leisure

Gorchha V: The Birds and Wild Flowers of Gorchha

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