The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand

9th Oct 2015
Photo of The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand 1/6 by Rahul Choudhury

Gaul is a village located in the hilly region of Uttarakhand. The region is known as Rawai located in Barkot tehsil of Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It is 2100m approx above sea-level. The village is surrounded by deodar forests. The village is located 500m approx lower than the hilltop. Purola and Naugaon lies downhill which are markets of the area. Gaul comes under Gadoli panchayat. The villagers have apple and other fruit orchards. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. Horticulture is also prevalent in the area. The village is 152 kms from Dehradoon and takes 5-6 hours to reach.

The homestay is a log house made on a fruit orchard which is surrounded by deodar forests. The property is owned and managed by Sangeeta Chauhan and family. The Home-stay is developed under the aegis of Uttarakhand Livelihood Improvement Project for Himalayas (ULIPH) supported by International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). The local villagers also provide support to the homestay. The homestay is situated in the serene environment of Rawai region of Uttarkashi district. Nested in the calmness of deodar forest is a paradise for travelers from cities who are looking for relaxation. The property is an idle location for nature lovers and people who wish to stay in a jungle. The place is cool due to the high altitude and remains covered in snow for almost 3 months (December to February). The location is connected by road but it takes a 15 min walk uphill through the deodar forest to reach the homestay. The property is surrounded by greenery and freshness of nature. Wildlife and Birding are also prevalent in the area. The property is well equipped with toilet and kitchen facilities. Water supply and electricity is available in the property.

One can find apples growing in the orchard from February to May. Flowers like roses, marigold are grown in the orchard with other local wild flowers. Almonds plants can also be found in the orchard. Agriculture of potato and peas are done in the orchard in June and July. Plants of Peach and Plum are also present in the orchard which grows in May and June. One can also see community wheat plantation in the village in which people from each family gather for plantation of wheat in the month of June.

Activities that can be done:

  • One can trek to kedarkanta which is a 35km trek from the village. Local villagers will guide travelers through the deodar jungle to kedarkanta.
  • A visit to Markeshwar Temple which is a unique temple present in the village and is full of mysteries. Till date no one knows when the temple was built and who built it. The specialty of the temple is no one goes inside the temple. It is a temple of lord shiva and is connected to 65 villages in the area. The priest of the temple are known as gaur who fast for 7 days drinking milk and eating Urad(Pulses) seeds every year before the Havan on diwali day. The gaurs (priests) are only allowed to go inside the temple when there is renovation required in the temple. No one has ever been inside the temple. The priest passes on information about the temple to the next generation in his last days. This is the 3rd generation of priests who are living now. The temple is made of 8-10 ft long stones. There is a mysterious water source in the temple. The source generates inside the temple. One cannot find where the water is coming if searched uphill in the forest. The temple is located 15mins walk from the homestay.
  • A visit to Surkanta Mata Mandir which is 3 hours walk from the homestay. It is 4 km trek and is also known as Bihali top. The temple is located on the top and gives a view of the greater Himalayan range. The height of the place is 8500ft. A straight walk will take one to caves in Akauridar. The roads are mostly made for the animals to gaze around. The place is surrounded by orchards and animal sheds.
  • A visit to Saruka which is a 6 km trek in the deodar forest. This place has a nice view.
  • A visit to Rajgadi which is a 5km trek crossing orchards and deodar forests.
  • One can Visit the old Kothi Manal which is old house with an earthquake prone architecture. It is a trek crossing agricultural lands. The house is a 5 storey house and is more than 400 years old. Plants like Timru, Kingaud, Hinsar, Maud can be found around the place.
  • One can find Handicrafts like Guita which is used to carry cowdung, leaves for cows are made by the local community, and there is a weaving unit in the nearby village where carpets, sweater etc. are made. The local made Jhadu is nice handicraft which is made of pine. Agricultural items are also being made by the villagers themselves.
  • One can enjoy the local organic food in the village. Items like Puri, Dal Pakode, Kheer, Seede, Red rice, Ram dana, Pudina Chatni, Bhang ki Chatni, Urad kid dal, Masoor ki daal, Til ki chatni, Kandali ki sabji, wild mushrooms, Matar, Muli ka Raita, Kaddu ki Raita, Kakdi ki raita.
  • One can see the traditional water mills and hand mills in the Village, one can try out his/her hand in the hand mill to grind grains for his/her consumption.
  • One can enjoy Sheep and Goat Cheese (Paneer) is made in an organic way by dropping the milk of fig plant in the milk of Sheep’s or Goat’s milk.
  • One can learn a few steps of the local dance form Raso with music teacher Dharmayan Singh. One can see musical instruments made of silver.
  • One can visit the Tilhadi saheed smarg which is a place where many people died for the conservation of the area.
Photo of The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand 2/6 by Rahul Choudhury
Photo of The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand 3/6 by Rahul Choudhury
Photo of The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand 4/6 by Rahul Choudhury
Photo of The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand 5/6 by Rahul Choudhury
Photo of The Undiscovered Valleys of Uttarakhand 6/6 by Rahul Choudhury