Imagine yourself close to the clouds dancing over mountains while you spread your arms as you are overwhelmed by the beauty of a revitalizing waterfall. You are breathing deeply because your lungs are captivated by the fresh air as you stand on green grass while feeling the raindrops on your cheeks. Anywhere you see is absolutely green with contrasting colors making perfect photos for your Instagram. You cannot stop sipping adrak chai while munching on scrumptious pakodas overlooking the beauty of the Himalayas from the balcony.
It sounded like a dream, right? Because witnessing monsoon in the Himalayas is not less than a little dream.
Let’s escape to a quaint Himalayan village for a monsoon retreat over a weekend, and soak ourselves in the magnificence of nature. We’ll be staying in a 100-year-old homestay which is a perfect combination of a pahadi house and a colonial bungalow. An old, yet so fresh, smell of wooden floors gives you sweet comfort inside your room. This 100-acre estate has organic farms, livestock, pine and oak trees, a small dam, exotic flowers like gladiolus, a small automatic flour mill, and river Kalsa graciously flowing through it. Adding to this, the scrumptious pahadi meal, a huge mango tree in the compound, a waterfall just outside the homestay the and an adventurous Bhotiya dog which would not stop trekking with you, are the other delights of coming along for a vacation to this place.
Stay in Bungalow – We’ll be staying in more than a century old home stay which was designed by taking some of the best elements from Kumaoni and colonial architecture. The rooms are spacious, well-designed, extremely comfortable, and have wooden floors. Just staying in such a unique kind of homestay is an experience in itself.
Organic Farming – Does the idea of injected and shiny wax-coated vegetables horrify you? Is one of your biggest fears while grocery shopping not to end up buying pesticide-contaminated fruits because you don’t know how to distinguish? Have you been thinking about growing your food but don’t know how to start? Let’s have a lesson on organic farming to know how to choose ‘right’ groceries and the techniques of developing your own terrace garden.
Beekeeping – Did you know that bees are one of the most sophisticated and structured civilization? Even a swarm of bees won’t bite you unless they sense an abrupt body movement. The taste of the honey produced by a hive of bees highly depends on the taste of fruits and flowers they pollinate upon. We’ll be learning many more such stories about bees in this session. If season permits, we’ll also be savouring the freshest honey from the honeycomb.
Nature Walk – The visit to the Himalayas is incomplete without having a close interaction with nature. Get a chance to experience the rich pine and oak forests, rest under the trees, spot beautiful birds, dip your feet or swim in the crystal clear water pools, discover hidden waterfalls, and appreciate the huge diversity of local plants and their utilities.
Village Walk – Walk through the village to witness authentic Kumaoni homes and the simple life lived by the dwellers. The frisky little kids would chase you, inviting you to their homes. It would be worth of your time to teach them a few skills or share some stories. Interact with the friendly locals, understand their pahadi lifestyle and look at some local inventions.
Dairy Farming – Dairy farming is one of the primary livelihoods in the village community. It’s an optional activity where we will understand the various aspects, challenges involved, and the need for dairy farming.
Trekking Unexplored trails– Karkotak trek drives its name from a fascinating mythological character named Karkotak who is a snake. This trek is the most exciting part of the journey as we will be hiking on the trails used by locals in their daily lives. The journey is made more interesting by the occasional edgy trails, dense jungles, breathtaking viewpoints, and offering of pahaadi cucumber by the villagers. The peak offers a majestic view of Bhimtal Lake and Naukuchiatal.
Bonfire and Group Games – Stay excited for this part!
We will start from Delhi in a private vehicle booked exclusively for our group at 11 PM. There will be multiple pick-up points that would be disclosed later. With some fun group games, we will continue our journey towards our destination.
We are expected to reach Haldwani/ Kathgodham at no later than 6 am and still 1.5 hours far from our destination village. The mesmerizing sights of the lower Himalayas, picturesque Kumaoni villages, pine jungles and the beautiful bridges over the river will increase our excitement with every turn.
Our fatigue will be turned into excitement by our heartwarming hosts, and the first sip of the tastiest ginger tea we will have at our homestay in the beautiful village of Alchauna.
After settling in, we will freshen up and have breakfast followed by informal group introductions. We have an entertaining way of breaking the ice and bringing the participants a bit closer. Post this; we will visit the farms, have a hands-on organic farming experience and learn some traditional techniques followed by local communities. We can also pluck and taste some fresh veggies directly from the farms.
Some natural feet acupressure after sweating in the fields is definitely needed. We will walk to the river for some relaxation and rejuvenation. The river has crystal clear water with colorful pebbles at its sand bed making it no lesser than any other exotic destination in the world.
We will go back to homestay for a lip smacking pahadi lunch which will be followed by experiencing bee-keeping. Get your hands at the beehive, understand how bee-kingdoms are structured, how queen bee is different from others, and how to care for bees. In the end, don’t blame us for your never ending curiosity towards a new subject.
In the evening, we’ll go to the old village for a walk to get a glimpse of an authentic Kumaoni village, which also offers the bird’s eye view of the valley making it a good spot for the photographs.
Afterwards, we will settle around a bonfire with some games, conversations, music and good food. Depending on everyone’s interest, we will also listen to the nomadic adventures of our host family.
We will depart the homestay after breakfast to hike the Karkotak Peak, leaving our packed luggage at the homestay and carrying a daypack only.
Locals believe, Karkotak is a snake mentioned in “Purana” and “Mahabharata” and it protects the village from natural disasters.
Karkotak trek is one of the unique trails you would ever do at lower altitudes. It’s a non-touristy trek which is used mostly by locals to bring fodder for the livestock and wood from the jungle. More than our energy to hike, we need to focus on the technicalities of the trail. The route goes through the beautiful pine and oak forest consisting of sharp edges, grassy patches, and beautiful wide shadowed paths. We will also witness many other small and charming pahadi villages while hiking. Don’t worry, the trek is safe and spellbinding. En-route, we will also have some interesting discussions about the dependence of villagers on forests and practices undertaken to conserve them.
Please note that Karkotak Trek is completely optional.
Upon reaching the top, we will have our packed lunch overlooking the captivating Bhimtal Lake and Naukuchiatal Lake. After having some leisure time at the peak, we will descend to Bhimtal and spend some relaxing time near the Bhimtal lake before departing to Haldwani. We will have our dinner in Haldwani and followed by our departure to Delhi in our private vehicle.
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