So how did we go about exploring the Garhwal Himalayas?
Choose a base, make a “home” – in our case, it was The Goat Village in Raithal
Walk through the villages – observations and conversations
And because we had based ourselves in Raithal, there was a sense of familiarity – many of the locals had seen us “do nothing” as we enjoyed our digital detox holiday at The Goat Village.
Conversations flowed. The people of Garhwal, unlike many mountain folks, were a chatty and curious lot. They wanted to know where we were from – and this one was a unique question we were asked in Uttarakhand – how much does it rain there.
Another old man scolded us for making plans for a trek to Dayara Bugyal without having an umbrella. “It’s raining so much up there, can’t you see the clouds? First, go and get an umbrella, or a proper raincoat from Uttarkashi. You will die up there without one”, was the ominous warning he left us with.
A woman from the village named Dwari would meet us every day on her way to work in a government-run nursery close to The Goat Village. We would exchange pleasantries every day. She would ask us where we were off to for the day and give her suggestions – “Do visit that temple. You will feel calm, the vibe there is so positive!”.
It was a remarkable question, in so many ways!
Participate in the activities that are a part of everyday rural life of the Garhwal Himalayas
In the evenings, we would join a family walking back home with their cattle. Their pace and halts dictated by the whims of their bovine companions. If grass had to be had in the middle of the road, it had to be had!
“This is my sweet little baby, she’s just a few days old”, an old woman told us as she patted the adorable calf. As the patting and pampering continued, it felt like it was an old grandmother playing with her newborn grandchild – the love and affection on both sides just the same!
A motorable road connected Raithal to the villages further ahead – Natin, Dwari and Gorsali – or so we were told. But for the tyre marks, we would’ve assumed the road was actually closed for repairs. Away from the highways, that is how these mountain roads generally are! The only ones not complaining were the young guys of these villages – for them, it was a ready dirt track for some adrenaline rush!
“Do you want to take some back home? Use it to make some “bhang” pakodas (cannabis fritters!), they are very tasty”, someone said. Was it a naive or a bold suggestion, we never did figure out!
Tips for places to visit around Raithal
- The trek to Dayara Bugyal is the biggest attraction in Raithal.
- The Goat Village is an excellent option to set up base in Raithal.
- Among the bigger villages in the Garhwal mountains, Raithal is a convenient choice to explore the rural life in these Himalayas.
- A walk to villages like Natin, Dwari and Gorsali is along a flat road, suitable for everyone. Unlike a trek, it doesn’t require high levels of fitness.
- You can trek to the village Barso on the other side of the mountain if the waterfall between Raithal and Barso isn’t swollen.
- There are a couple of villages – Chaheti and Bandrani – down the mountain atop which Raithal is located. While there is a motorable road that connects Raithal to Bhatwari (the town at the base of the mountain), you can trek down the mountain slope through these villages.
- Thefamous temple at Gangotri is a little over 75 km away (a long day trip).
Do you have any stories of exploring the tiny remote villages of the Garhwal Himalayas? Do share them in the Comments!
Like rural tourism? These travel stories will give you more ideas for rural tourism in India.
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