We are on an overnight train from Delhi, heading to the Kumaon Valley to begin a three day walk between the villages in this remote area of India. We will stay in traditional village houses and enjoy seeing everyday life in the valley and the stunning scenery that constantly has the snow capped Himalayas in the background.
The twelve hour overnight train trip from Delhi is quite an experience in itself. We are still talking about it as we are met by our guides at Kathgodam station and driven to Almora, one of the main towns in the region. From here it is a quick drive to the drop off point for our short walk to the first village of Deora.
The Kumaon Village walk is one of three village walks offered by Shakti Himalaya that give us the chance to see little known areas of India. We have two guides and a handful of porters who make light work of carrying our bags from village to village. Our host family’s home has been partially renovated by Shakti. It is not luxury accommodation and a suggestion is made that we think of it as camping with a roof over our head. All the rooms are simple and clean with bathroom facilities varying from village to village. In a few days we will become experts in hot water bucket showers and Indian toilets though thankfully a couple of the villages do have new flush models.
After meeting our hosts, we are all eager to stretch our legs and explore the valley below us. Terraced fields surround us as we follow the path down to the village
The villager’s homes are a hive of activity. Some of the family members are laying wheat out to dry on any surface they can find whilst others are bashing it against stone walls to release the grain.
Dinner that night is cooked by our host. All the ingredients and cooking utensils have been carried in by the Shakti’s porters. Sitting outside under the stars allows us to appreciate the quiet of the countryside
We sleep well, the water is hot and after a leisurely breakfast, it’s on with the walking boots and off to the next village.
The scenery is stunning. We follow a path through fields of grain where the women and children work. We see only one man here! Smiles stretch across their faces as we stop and chat (with the help of the guides!) and take photos of the children.
Our guides are knowledgeable. They tell us about the local flora and fauna, the stepped irrigation channels that cut through the fields and the workings of the traditional flour mill that we pass. They even know where the local coffee shop is!
The scenery changes the next day as we head to the village of Jwalabanj. A gentle climb is now taking us through forests of pine and cedar. Unfortunately we are a bit late to see the rhododendron forests in bloom.
The villages are fascinating. The houses are well cared for, flowers flourish and the traditional wood trimmings in this village are all painted blue. The path to this village took us onto the verandah of one of the houses where grandma was grinding corn. She was amused at our attempts to do this – it’s much trickier than it looks!
The women in the other houses came out to see us and provided me with a photo opportunity I couldn’t miss.
Do you recognise the women who were the subject of the recent Postcard from…India
As this was our last night in the village, we were entertained by a troupe of traditional Kumaon dancers.
It was hard saying goodbye to our hosts, their family and our fabulous porters but we were also looking forward to the next part of our trip!
Would you like to do a village walk in India?
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