After 10 days of long leave when I re-joined my office on last Monday, looking at my tanned face many of my colleagues were asking whether I went to Goa. When I told them that I actually went to a hill, the next question they asked me was whether I was put into some task in a paddy field there. It was just a 6 day trek under the complete care of our guide and his team which by no means can be termed as anything less than luxury considering the terrain and availability of the resources.
Now as I am back into the city’s hustle and bustle, I am thinking about the life of the people living in Osla – a village inside Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, around 15km away from the nearest motor-able road at Taluka. From Taluka(the starting point of our trek) we took almost a day and a half to reach Osla. The villagers take the same route to connect themselves to the rest of the world and usually cover the distance in 4 hours or less.
There is no school. No hospital. No electricity. A battery operated satellite STD booth is the only way to communicate in case of any emergency. But that too doesn’t work most of the time.
Every day, they walk the hills to collect fire wood, grass for the cattle or to bring daily necessities from the towns. Mules are their only means to carry their household goods or other necessary items like cement or bricks to build their houses and bridges. They take their cattle away from the village in search of a grazing fields and spend their nights under open sky. During winter when snow covers most of the nearby areas, they take their cattle to distance places towards Mussoorie and spend 2-3 months away from home.
When we approached they asked for medicine unlike many other places where people normally ask for money or things to eat. Our guide told us not to give any medicine to them as they might eat those medicine for wrong reason. During our trek we met a girl carrying a box of vaccines with some other medicines visiting the village. She works in a dispensary near Naitwar and at times visits the village. The nearest chemist for this village is around 40km away at Sankri – half of the distance to Sankri is covered on foot and the rest by shared taxi.
A Soumeshwar Ji(Lord Shiva) temple is the centralised place where most of them gather. They weave their shawls and jackets themselves. They mostly cultivate Rajmah and Ramdana on the hills. They use water streams to run their Atta Chakki(flour grinder). I observed that the female members of the house do most of the jobs while the male members spend their time shuttling between the village and the nearest towns carrying goods or grazing cattle.
Despite the odds, the life in the village seems easy on the face of the villagers. They look calm and the days are routine. Life is full of colours as they deserve.
The children carry beautiful smiles like those streams from the snow capped peaks. They learn to help their mothers from a very early stage. Some of them looked at us as if we are from a different universe.
Only few are lucky enough to travel by car in their childhood.
I am highly thankful to our guide(Ramlal) who has been considerate enough to give us all the opportunities and necessary support so that we could explore the area at our own wish. He also altered our initial itenary considering our pace. I found his name through his one post blog and after few interaction over phone, we had sent him Rs. 5000/- as advance. The initial trust that we bestoed upon him only deepened by the end of the trek. I must also mention here that I was accompanied by three awesome individuals without whom I could have never experience the joy of exploring such remote parts of Uttarakhand.
Our trip itinerary and details of Ramlal:
- Oct 31: Day 0: Delhi to Dehradun by Nanda Devi AC Express, Departure: 11:50 pm. Dehradun by 6am. Cost around 820/- (2nd AC) per person.
- Nov 1: Day 1: Dehradun to Sankri by Bolero via Mussoorie, Kemty, Purola, Mori. Reach Sankri by evening. Cost 5000/-. Stay @ hotel Wild Orchid Inn
- Nov 2: Day 2: Breakfast. travel to Taluka by car, from Taluka trek starts, night halt @ Gangarh.
- Nov 3: Day 3: Trek till Asoi via Alsai and night halt.
- Nov 4: Day 4: Trek to Har-ki-dun, night halt.
- Nov 5: Day 5: Trek to Jaumdhar Glacier and return. Lunch at Har-ki-dun. Trek back towards Osla, camp after trekking 3km away from Har-ki-dun.
- Nov 6: Day 6: Return to Gangarh via Seema.
- Nov 7: Day 7: Return to Taluka, travel by car to Sankri. Overnight stay @ hotel Wild Orchid Inn
- Nov 8: Day 8: Early morning drive to Dehradun via Purola, Mussoorie by Bolero. Cost 6000/-. Dehradun by evening, overnight train to Delhi by Nanda Devi AC Express @11pm. Delhi by 6am.
Guide: Ramlal, Ph 09411380818, 09456196919, Driver: 9411718595.
Cost: – we paid Rs. 2000/- per day per person from 1st till 7th. This includes hotel stay and all meal.