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Forgotten Scenic Himalayan Village

Finally after 15 months, I did it !!!! It has given me a sense of accomplishment, yet again. You all must be wondering what am I talking about …

Dec 2016 was the time when I was on Kedarkantha trek. While coming from Kedarkantha summit, I saw a village on a different mountain. I asked my guide what were those tiny houses. It was “Kalap” village, as told by my guide. I heard the name of that village for the first time. The village was looking so tiny on such a mighty mountain. The guide told me that it was a different trek and usually nobody travels to that village. Only Kalap people travel down when they need household items. Otherwise no-one goes to that village. At that moment I decided to explore that place soon.

Kalap is full of stunning natural beauty; traditional Garhwali architecture houses, rich culture and most importantly the pure hearted people of Kalap. The village has only sustainable lifestyle with farming as the primary source of income and after that rearing sheep and goats.Kalap is a untouched & unexplored beautiful village because of not being connected by road and far from major trekking trails. It is situated in Upper Garhwal region of Uttrakhnad at 7,500 ft. above sea level with the views of snow-capped Bandarpunch range. It is around 210 km from Dehradun and around 450 km from Delhi.

Kalap is nestled among virgin pine and deodar forests, and overlooks the Gorge cut open by the roaring River Supin. Supin is the major contributor to the River Tons, which in turn is the major tributary of the River Yamuna. People of Kalap village claims to be descendent of Pandavas and Kauravas. As the village area is inside the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park (GPNP), one needs to be careful from bears as it is bear prone area. Its good if you have a guide with you. There are two points to start the trek, one is winter route around 5 km and second one is summer route around 11 km. The 11 km trek starts from Netwar which is less steep and moderate in nature & require around 6 hours. The 5 km trek starts from Mohtad which is little steep and tiring & require around 4 hours.

Feb end was the time I decided to explore Kalap. There was hardly any information available about Kalap on internet. So I decided to reach till last motorable road (Sankri Village) and in the meantime tried to collect all possible and necessary information about that place.

Our group of six people started on a journey of that unexplored place for which we did not have any idea. Like always, I was very excited again to explore an unexplored place but the case was not the same with rest of my friends. According to the information available on the internet, trek is prone to bears and it was more than enough to make everyone feel scared.

We started from Delhi around 12 am and around 01 pm we reached the nearest village Sankri. It was too late to start the trek keeping in mind the area was not safe after sunset because of bears and we all were planning to go without a guide. We were not in a position to take any chance, so we decided to do 5 km steep trek early morning next day.  We spent a night in Sankri village and slept early around 10 pm to get enough sleep for next day’s trek

It was around 8 am and we left for the trek. We left our vehicle in the village and took a local bus to Mohtad from where trek starts. It’s around 3 km from Sankri to Mohtad .We did around 1 km downhill trek and there cane the point where we needed to cross the river but to oue surprise, there was no bridge… Two of us moved to the left to see if there was any bridge to cross the river or any place where there was a low tide in river to cross the same. After moving to left for around 200 meters, both of them came back without any clue to move forward …..  So we decided to try the right side as well. In the meantime we saw a man on the mountain in front of us who was coming downhill and looked like a local of Kalap village. We started shouting and tried to ask him the way to cross the river but we were not able to make him understand. Now the man was on the other side. It was really surprising that the man sat in a small trolley, dragged the rope and came at our side. We all were looking at each other and asked him...Don’t you find it unsafe to use this trolley? It was so small for an adult to adjust in it and most importantly it didn’t look safe. I have seen these type of trolleys to transfer goods but not people. He told us that they don’t have time to use the bridge which was on our right side and about 500 meters from there.

Finally we also decided to use that trolley to cross the river to save time. It was an amazing experience to cross the river in a small bucket sized trolley with hand and legs folded to get accommodated in it. Everyone was enchanting god’s name till the time we were in the trolley and reached the other side of the river. After crossing it, we all were looking at each other and also laughing for how we did such a stupid thing (See Video). Please don’t use it without any local guidance, in fact it is better to avoid it and use the bridge to cross the river.

After crossing the river, we started the rest of our trek. The entire trek did not have any tree under whose shed we could’ve taken rest for sometime from the scorching sun above. There were very few bushes where we relaxed for a while. We kept on moving to reach early as we were finished with our water storage and did not want to get dehydrated in the middle of the trek. It took us around 3.5 more hours to reach Kalap village. The moment we entered in the village, children started welcoming us by wishing us “hello”. We looked for stay options and got it easily. We did not ask for charges as we all were so exhausted. The owner greeted us with water and after that black tea. We relaxed for some time and then decided to see the village in the evening.  It was around 5 pm when we left to have a walk around the village, to meet people, to feel their culture and to see the natural beauty of the place. This continued till the time we were in the village. We also visited the main temple of Kalap which is dedicated to Karna. In the night, we all started gazing at millions of stars while sitting next to bonfire which was an amazing experience. We spent hours just doing nothing and kept talking to the owner to know more about the village and it’s people. I met some of the people in the village. They called me to their house and offered me milk and food. I talked to them and found that some of them had just sufficient to feed their hunger and somehow managed their lives. Even after having not enough for themselves, they offered me food and milk which was really heart melting. And this was again one more example to remember for life time of big & kind hearted people of these villages.

There were certain things which made our time in Kalap, more memorable and I always wish to visit there in future as well with no mobile connectivity (the most important thing) and leaving urbanization far behind.

There are other places to explore beyond Kalap. Please seek help of local people or experienced villagers to explore these places.

After spending good quality time, it was time to come back. The owner advised us to use the 11 km trek as it was easy to trek downhill. The route was entirely different from the once we came from in terms of greenery and scenic views. We also encountered some small villages on the way back. It took us around 4 hours to reach Netwar. It was 4 pm when we left for Delhi and entered our houses around 5 am.

Kalap is the place for enthusiasts who love to trek on offbeat places. In reward, you will feel overly delighted with natural beauty & never forget the rich experience of this village. It always brings smile on my face when I recall my time in Kalap. Visiting Kalap is like going back in time with wooden houses, farming, cattle & sheep outside every house, mud chullas with smoke curling up above the roof tops.

Check my you tube video to know more about  Kalap Village and for beautiful images.  (parinde india)

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