A family function gave me an opportunity to spend few hours in a small Himalayan mountain village. First of 2 parts.
On reaching Himachal Pradesh by train through fog-covered lands of wintry Rajasthan and Punjab, we found that the temperature had stabilized here after more than a fortnight of rains.
The 2 days I was there turned out to be surprisingly sunny, bringing out the breath-taking natural beauty to its maximum. 🙂
We reached the village Sunhi after a 40 minute drive on narrow winding roads. Along with the usual trees found in mountainous regions, karipatta grows here in abundance. (Rarely used by the Himachalis, it is omnipresent in south Indian food.)
Population – 2,500. Elevation – 750 metres. Located 20 kms east of Kangda, Sunhi is home to mostly farmers and shepherds.
There is a bank, school, a temple and few shops. Wheat, paddy and corn are alternately grown in the stepped fields along with vegetables.
Beyond the fields, rise the mighty Himalayas. The nearest peak is at the height of 4 kms.
I spent time with a young guy who showed me around Sunhi. Rains are the primary water source for agriculture. Mountain springs are mostly used for household necessities. The villagers have laid stones beside these, creating a structure known as bavdi.
Lunch was the traditional dhaam. Served on leaves stitched together, it consisted of a multitude of delicious curries and pulses brought one by one, with rice as the base. (Did you know that rice is the staple food of Himachalis? I was under the impression that entire north India ate wheat.)
As we roamed after our heavy lunch, I couldn’t help but marvel at the natural beauty of the place. Time seemed to roll very slowly here. When I told him that his village was wonderful – beautiful, calm, free of noise and pollution, and everything fresh and healthy, he replied a trifle sadly that he was bored with the mountains and tired of the cold. He was waiting to get out and go to the cities.
When he said that, I was suddenly pulled out of my “city-boy-dreaming-of-an-imaginary-wonderful-rural-life” thoughts and got a momentary glimpse into the exact opposite – my young friend’s dreams of leaving this village and coming to urban India with its supposedly limitless facilities and opportunities.
Read part 2 here.