My first village experience: Alchauna
I was just surfing the web, when a friend of mine told me about this trip to Alchauna. She said that Rural Odyssey is organizing this fantastic trip to a quaint village, Alchauna, in Uttrakhand the very next day and if I am interested in joining. Moreover, Rural Odyssey a travel startup always brings up some new and exciting place to visit.
So, Am I interested in going? Hell yeah! I definitely wanted to go.
It was planned for a weekend, and there’s no better feeling than adding a new place to your list for a weekend getaway.
I packed my bags in a jiffy and was extremely excited. Aren’t spontaneous trips the best? Moreover, the itinerary and the destination for this trip was all so super cool that I just couldn’t wait for it. We were told that we would be staying in a hundred-year-old colonial style home-stay, and many other fun and learning activities will be there, like village walk, beekeeping, organic farming and so on.
We left from Delhi in the night and reached our home-stay in Alchauna early in the morning.
Mr. Ajay Upreti welcomed us like their family and showed us our rooms. We were dog-tired by now, so we decided to take a short nap. We were five people in our group, including RuralOdyssey’s co-founder Kush Sharma who was leading the group. Besides him, it was I, Rasika (from Chennai), Zeya and Amaanat (from Ghaziabad). Unfortunately, Chandni, our trip organizer, and Rural Odyssey’s co-founder, could not accompany us on the trip as she had a fracture in her ribs and hence, was on bed rest.
Our breakfast was ready, and we were quite famished too. We rushed towards the breakfast table like a hungry hippopotamus. There we met the head of the Upreti family, Mr. Lalit Upreti. He was quite a gentleman in his late 60’s. We had an introductory session with him, and he also told us a bit about his family history, how and when they migrated from higher mountains and the home-stay we were staying. He told us this bungalow belongs to his great great grandfather, and they have been living there since their childhood. Although, earlier in winters, they used to migrate to places like Haldwani or Nainital for the ease of survival. But now, everything is readily and easily available. I must say Upreti uncle is a very curious and passionate person. He’s been doing beekeeping, bio-gas production, and many other activities to make use of his leisure time.
We were done with the breakfast now, and it was time to introduce ourselves to bee-keeping. Upreti uncle showed us the traditional and the conventional beekeeping methods. He also threw some light on the kind of bees there and how do they produce honey and make a living. It was quite intriguing to us all.
Right after the beekeeping, we left to please our eyes with the methods of organic farming. Innumerable pictures were clicked on the way of course. Mr. Ajay Upreti accompanied us, explaining all the things that were falling our way. He told us about drip irrigation and many other things. After an enlightening walk through the farm, we went down to the river. Once we reached the river, it was flabbergasting for all of us. Never did any of us expect such crystal clear water body in India. It was as clear as daylight and all of us stood there staring at the river or else clicking the pictures. It was like all of us wanted the time to stand still so that we can make the most of it. We were romping around the river like an animal that has gone wild. Believe me; it was too much fun. Just cavorting and playing around with people who were almost strangers to you and feeling as if you’ve known them for ages is the best feeling in the world.
We went back to the Upreti’s uncle place after our perfect bonding from strangers to being amazing friends. Our lunch was ready, and all of us were empty-bellied. We settled ourselves for our meal.
Let me tell you guys, never in my entire life have I seen such hospitality as Upreti uncle offered. With a lot of variety of food, we were bewildered as to what to eat and what not. He continuously kept asking us what else we want, is the food good enough, and so on. He made us feel at home. We thanked him whole-heatedly after finishing our lunch for such an excellent meal.
Well, this is not the end of our first day. There’s more to come. Although our exhaustion level was at its peak after having a water-dip, our zeal and enthusiasm to see more and have more fun overpowered it. After resting for a while, we left for the village walks at around 4 in the evening. For me, village walk was the most prodigious part of my trip. Spending time with the people, knowing their culture and chitchatting with them is what makes a real traveler. These are some of the things that you never get to experience in a city life. We interacted with many village folks, and a lot of kids followed us to get clicked. They were a bit shy, and they wanted to talk to us too. Well, by the time we were about to leave we did succeed in getting a few pictures with these adorable shy kids. A few folks even invited us to their homes. They were like, “Come, we will make some good pahaadi meal for you guys so that you can experience the true essence of visiting the village.” Such generosity made me feel like that even in this world full of chaos and mayhem, and there are some unbelievably good people existing on this earth. We were now going back, when one of those little girls came shouting from behind, “Didi… Bye.” This small gesture of love from that girl added on to my reminiscent memories. The feeling is a bit hard to explain, though.
We unwillingly left the village with a lot of memories in our heart and our cameras. At night we had a bonfire. Each one of us was sitting around and sharing their experiences about life or about anything we wanted to. The sky above was so bright and filled with countless stars that are almost impossible to see in a city like Delhi. We even played songs and sang along with it. And yes, we had two amazing singers in our group too, Kush and Zeya. They sang numerous other songs. The song that still goes over and over again in my mind and refreshes the memories of that night every time I hear it,
“Pal pal har kadam, payenge hum, ek manzar naya…”
Our first day ended on a good note and all thanks to Rural Odyssey. We woke up fresh the next morning, ready for the trek to the Karkotak peak. We had our breakfast, packed our lunch and left bidding adieu to this lovely family. Sanjay bhayya accompanied us and guided us throughout the trek. The views and landscapes on the way were breathtakingly gorgeous.
A few village folks on the way also offered us to stay with them and spend some time with them, and I wish I could stay there for few days. One of them offered us a ‘kakdi’, a gigantic cucumber as a token of love. We reached the top after trekking for around 4 to 5 hours with short resting intervals in between. The view from the top was so beautiful that you could see the complete Bhimtal at one side, and the Naukuchiyatal at the other. We had our lunch there, sat there for quite some time ruminating about life and appreciating the creation of God. After a while, we started our trek down to Bhimtal, and we covered it quite fast. Spending some time at the Bhimtal Lake and around, we finally left back for our homes.
It was one memorable journey of my life, and I’m profoundly grateful to Rural Odyssey for making me aware of what Responsible tourism is and also plan my travels in a way that I get to know the people around and look at life from a different perspective altogether.
I would like to end this monologue by few lines written by me:
Losing oneself is dreadful, diabolical; says who?
I spent all my life with the aim of losing myself.
Every action ad hering to my thoughts;
Take me to the woods, before my body rots.
Being covetous is not my thing,
Life is nothing else, but a fling.
Audacious enough to see a traveler’s pot of Jack???
Leave me in the woods, and I shall never return…
Happy Travelling 🙂