On twelfth of june 2016 when we started from Gwaldam guest house towards Dewal road, we did not have any fixed plan. We reached Gwaldam with a plan to trek upto Bedni but somehow the feedback we received there discouraged us to venture on the route. We Got an impression that the terrain is too challenging for our age. So on the morning we set out to reach the last point accessible by vehicle on that route, that is Wan. We drove with a leisurely pace stopping in between to click pictures, to listen to the rhythm of silence flowing through the forest of tall, stately pines.
And then we reached Wan. At the turn of the road was this tiny shop. We parked our vehicle there and inquired whether we could get a cup of tea . It’s Jamuna dadi’s tea shoppe. Here we met Hira. Hira takes trekkers – individuals and groups on trek tours to Bedni, Roopkund and beyond. Few minutes of conversation with him and he convinced us to embark upon the trek to Bedni. Somehow or other the way he took upon himself the responsibility of making this trek possible for us made us free of all worries. Jamuna dadi too with her enchanting smile encouraged us . Ultimately it was decided that we shall spend the day in the village and then next morning start our trek.
Jamuna dadi, the shop owner
This stay at Wan was totally unplanned but perhaps such unexpected changes make traveling very fruitful and enriching. The day we spent in the tiny village was truly rewarding, Sitting there in the tea shop in salubrious surrounding of green hills we met many new people and listened to various travel tales. There was this gentleman who once upon a time worked as porter and had accompanied many foreign nationals to uncharted paths, untraveled roads on high hills, through dense forests and deep valleys. Now with tired limbs and weakened joints he roams and works within village limit only but he still looks with longing and fondness towards the high peaks and sharing the tales of his glorious, tough travels make his eyes shine with luminous joy. He remembers with fondness his past adventures and conquests but not being able to do that now had not made him bitter at all. This calm acceptance of the inevitable patterns and changes in way of life is very endearing….a life long lesson. The real travel is just not visiting new places but learning new lessons of life, developing a new eye to various facets of life.
Panoramic views of Wan
Hira took us for lunch to his home. His home was in front of tea shoppe, across the road on a slightly higher plane. His mother and wife prepared the food. Fresh hot dal, vegetables and salad from fields, chapati and rice with home made chooran was tasty and we enjoyed it a lot. During entire day we visited other houses too, had tea in different courtyards and learnt a lot about local customs, traditions, festivals, fairs, Gods and Goddesses.
In conversation with Hira and Yashwant, near the river flowing through the village
out of these three pictures, the first one is the stream of river, whose flow the villagers get diverted to run their indigenous flour mill. Second pic is the outer view of their flour mill ,while the third one is the inside view. such praiseworthy effort on the parts of villagers.
Lady walking towards her field to cut the wheat and in the upper one cutting wheat in the field.
Separating grains from plants. I admired the school, college going girls, who study in nearby bigger places but were at home during summer vacation. They participated equally in all the agricultural activities.
It was time of harvesting wheat. The women folkfields were busy cutting wheat from fields, separating the grains by beating the dried plants.
Meeting the children and interacting with them was a wonderful experience. Yashwant, Deepak, Pankaj, Yashpal, Pushkar etc were in the age group of nine to fourteen. Few of them studied in schools of some nearby bigger places and were in the village during their summer vacations. Awareness level of the children living in those remote places was amazing, from latest mobile technologies to political scenario of state and country to each and every plant, trees of their area, mythological tales, local rites, rituals each of them was very well versed in all these subjects. Very sweet, affectionate kids were they.
enjoying tea and gossiping with women
children in their courtyard
Pankaj holds in his hands a plant , he plucked from road side. Children told us that a very tasty curry is made from this plant. They described the entire procedure of cleaning the plant and cooking it.
Walking towards Ghanti Dhar with children
They showed us their fields in the valley, introduced us to various plants and their utilities. Narrated the tales and facts heard from their grand parents about centuries old Surai trees and by their description made alive the crimson clad valley in the season of Buransh blossoming. Excitedly they invited us to revisit their village at that time. Those lovely smiling faces as if reflected radiant Buransh.
While returning from Ghanti dhar we were caught unaware by a sudden spurt of lashing rain. No cover was available. we had not taken our umbrellas with us, children were not worried about themselves but were concerned that we had to start our trek early morning and we didn’t have any change of clothes with us. A little ahead on the side of road we found a bent, hollow tree under which we tried to get shelter. We tried calling the driver of our cab to come and take us but that too did not work as no BSNL coverage and connectivity is available in Wan and nearby areas and we both and our cabby Prem all three of us had BSNL numbers only. With luck we saw two people coming towards us, Kids asked them whether they had a mobile and then they called their mother to send our driver to pick up all of us. Finally huddling together inside the cab we reached the village, where jamuna dadi was ready with black hot tea to greet us. The entire episode was so fun filled. It revived our childhood spirit and enthusiasm. True, the joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, changing horizons. The simple joys are the most nurturing ones.
We spent the night in a small, low ceiling neat room with mud walls, whose door opened to green high hill beyond the valley. The bed sheet, quilts and blankets were clean and we had a undisturbed sound sleep. Kaloo, the black, bulky dog sat on rooftop entire night as if on guard.
At the door of the room we stayed for night
The inside view of room
Next morning we left the place with Hira on our trek to Bedni but we did not leave Wan. We brought it with us. It became a part of us and simultaneously we left something of us there behind. We returned back to our daily city routine but the journey never ended. It keeps rewinding again and again within the deepest and quietest chambers deep down inside us.
An overview of Wan village road
All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.
Details of Our guide–
Hira Singh Bisht Garhwali
Village — Wan, Dewal. Chamoli, Garhwal, Uttarakhand.
Phone number — 09756480219[ whats app available on this number], 07895165848.