I am often asked how I decide on places I want to travel to next.
It’s not as like I run an algorithm that makes predictive analysis on
matters related to travel.
|What's not to love about places choosing you (rather than it being the other way around) when it's a visual like this one?|
Just like how until Friday, the 11th
of November 2016, I didn't know I would be trekking to Nag Tibba. I had never looked it up and because to
me the name Nag Tibba had been nothing more than clickbait that I had witnessed
cropping across my social media timelines. Why, I did not even know which
Indian state it was a part of. Somewhere in the Himalayas is what I would tell
myself and leave it at that.
But that was until the 11th
of November 2016.
That was the morning when after a 3 hour drive from Dehradun, I
trudged my way uphill from Pantwari and heard myself say, “Ah there Nag Tibba!
Pleasure to finally have this opportunity to meet you.”
The opportunity sneaked in on me in the guise of an email from The Green People
who run an eco-enterprise, The Goat Village, in the Tehri Garwahal region of Uttarakhand - on the trek route to Nag Tibba, to be more precise.
My curiosity was piqued. Uttarakhand was beckoning me after I first
visited it some 10 years ago. What was going to stop me? Nothing. Well except dengue
– which delayed my journey nonetheless!
And so after booking, un-booking and then re-booking tickets, I was well on my way.
|Just another morning in Tehri Garhwal|
I have a way of learning the simplest of
things the hard way – like how ill-suited a duffle-bag converted into a
backpack is while on a trek. Oh well.
But that and the low-stamina from the on-going recovery courtesy
dengue notwithstanding, I lauded myself after those 4 arduous
kilometers that brought me to The Goat Village because back home getting anything
done that required me to be mobile and use bi-pedal locomotion would result in
leaving me constantly drained and low on stamina.
The Goat Village
is at the half way mark to Nag
Tibba. There is however an alternative for non-trekking enthusiasts (though I
wonder why you’d want to be there, if not for the trek). One can haul a ride to
Lasser Gaon – which is at the midpoint of Pantwari and The Goat Village, i.e.,
you trek 2 instead of 4 kilometers to get to The Goat Village.
High from having completed this first leg in its entirety, it was most rewarding to be
handed a tumbler of nerve-relaxant also known as Buransh (or rhododendron juice for the uninitiated). Sorry there is no
photographic evidence as this nectar was wolfed down in a single gulp!
For someone whose previous meal was nothing but a snack at KFC in New
Delhi the earlier evening, lunch was not something that could wait any longer. A
simple and nutritious fare of manduwa ki roti (finger millet flat bread), rajma
(red kidney beans), palak ki sabzi (spinach) and rice was also wolfed down
without a trace of any photographic evidence!
|A meal with a view. One of the few times when I remembered that a photograph wouldn't be such a bad idea!|
|Because being Zen lends itself to finding the black and white in the grey. Or at least some of it!|
Over conversations, I began to understand more about The Green People and
The Goat Village – of how it is an initiative to mobilise farmers as a measure
towards reversing the tide of migration from villages in the mountains to
cities like Dehradun. This year old enterprise aims at restoring the dignity in
agricultural labour which has witnessed a decline with parents preferring that
their children opt in for anything other than working on the field! Enter Bakri Chaap
– the brand under which produce from across villages under The Green
People umbrella is packaged and sold across select stores and boutique hotels
in Dehradun and Delhi.
So given its vision, The Goat Village - an eco and responsible
tourism venture - is but naturally all things modest and environmentally
sensitive; at least to the extent possible. Every meal follows the 'farm to
table' route implying that everything you eat is locally grown. It also implies
that non-vegetarianism is not encouraged, not at every meal.
|Lounging like a boss at The Goat Village|
Offering a 360 degree view of the Himalayas where the sound of silence
cradles you away from the din of everything you have left behind in the plains,
The Goat Village could be considered as somewhat austere in its approach by
some, especially those not as acquainted with the ways of being connected with
nature and engaging with local communities. In other words, treat The Goat
Village as a recommendation from yours truly only if leaving behind your
gadgets, thingamajigs and other worldly ties for a few days is something you
are willing and ready to experience!
The Goat Village very recently went from being completely off the grid
to being solar powered. So yes, hot water is
available during certain hours of the day (a service I did not avail of because
cold water does not feel as cold when you loll in the sun later). And no, there
are no lights or bulbs or fans or switches in the rooms though you are provided
with solar as well as kerosene powered lamps (yet again a service rendered
irrelevant thanks to the days/nights leading to the supermoon)!
|The super-moon at some 3000 metres above sea level|
It is for these reasons and the fact that you can connect to 2G as well
as charge your power banks that The Goat Village is an in-between for anyone
like me who prefers that cusp between civilisation and wilderness…