On my last trip to Kumaon in Uttarakhand, I chose a farmstay in a village to understand life of people in Kumaon. Village Tourism in the Himalayas is enticing me a lot since I got addicted to the Himalayas. I started living in different parts of Himachal Pradesh to get immersive travel experiences after I quit my job and city life. It is a fantastic way to learn and explore the culture and rustic way of life of the people in the mountains.
Kaaphal Hill is a self-sustained farmstay, perched on a mountain in a village called Chaukori. It is the only house standing on that mountain, surrounded with vast farms, fruit orchards and pine forests. The resident family here grows own food, raises cattle for milk, keeps the bees, processes own grains and feeds more than 30 varieties of birds that come to their surrounding everyday. This family of an old couple and their son, have opened their doors to travellers who want to experience village life in Kumaon.
Kaaphal Hills offers a vast panoramic view of the Himalayan Range starting from Garhwal to Nepal. Nandadevi , Nandakot and Panchachuli are the prominent peaks that stand tall in this Himalayan Range.
Sunrises and sunsets over the mountains is quite a spectacular sight as seen fom Kaapahal Hill.
My day here starts with chirping of the birds during sunrise followed by aunty's prayers.
The old lady in the family welcomes you to her village land through her favourite window in the kitchen.
The kitchen is completely made of bamboos and wood. The kitchen was occupied with only basic cooking equipment, that left a huge space for families to gather and bond.
I was very happy to see them using the traditional brassware and fireplace (chulha) for cooking. Aunty offered me traditional brassware to make my herbal tea.
The rooms at Kaaphal Hill are basic, yet very comfortable, and have huge glass windows that offer clear views to the farm and the mountain peaks.
Aunty fed me with farm fresh organic food everyday. She cooked various homegrown daals (lentils), brown rice, multi grain roties (Indian flat bread) and leafy vegetables during my stay there. The multi grain roties tasted awesome with homemade ghee and jaggery. One of the interesting breakfasts she made was "Kumaoni Maggi" (homemade noodles, fried and spiced with homemade herbal dips ).
I had visited Kumaon in March 2017, when the sky was clear blue, the fields were green and fruit orchards were blooming. The mustard fields were shining with yellow flowers near the house.
The blushing red rhododendrons were in full bloom. I had tasted rhododendron juice several times before, but aunty surprised me by making a salad out of the the petals of rhododendron flowers.
Pretty pink flowers blossomed on the Aadu (Peach) fruit trees.
Aunty made spicy lemons as afternoon snack from the huge lemons she plucked fresh from the trees.
The oranges were 1 week from being ready to be plucked.
The fig fruits had started growing on the branches.
The beautiful birds payed regular visits to the farms and fruit orchards of Kaaphal Hill.
I was amazed to hear from the son that aunty had tamed Kaleej Peasants, one of the most sought after birds in the Himalayas. Sighting Kaleej Pheasants is regarded as lucky and cliking a picture of them is evem more lucky. I felt the luckiest when I had a pair of Kaleej Pheasants (blue is the male, brown is the female) around me for 20 minutes. They kept feeding on grains that aunty had left for them, while I kept clicking them. They shied away from me for a minute, but then they got comfortable with me and even posed for me (they didn't shy from the camera anymore). The owner of the farmstay exclaimed that I have been the only visitor till date who could spot the pheasants up, close and personal. He said that the birds are very sensitive and they would have sensed me as a nature lover and felt safe around me.
The family had tamed and raised 6 cows for their own source of pure cow milk. I don't like drinking milk tea, but uncle had lovingly made cow milk tea with cloves and cinnamon for me in the morning. I would confess, I liked the taste of this milk tea. I was used to drinking milk everyday, until I realised what chemicals are added as preservatives in the packaged milk!
Uncle was passionately engaged in beekeeping as he is very fond of fresh organic honey. He climbs up the trees to catch bees.
The honey bees are raised in a box made of mud and wood. Aunty once gave me a small bowl of freshly cultivated honey. Uncle commented that i won't like this honey as I would be used to the market brands. I then told them my story of living in the Himalayas. They were very happy to hear that I was already a "pahadi".
Aunty would grind homegrown wheat to flour and process own brown rice with this manual wooden equipment. Every food item I had at Kaaphal Hill oozed out freshness and natural taste. Everything they consumed was natural and homegrown. I admire people who still love the idea of self-sustainability.
A 2 km trail up the mountain takes you to a point which gives an intimate view of the snow covered mountains.
Aunty took me up to the point at the Bageshwar - Pitthoragarh border on the mountain. For once in my life, I felt like clicking someone else more than myself! Aunty, at the age of 60, was so energetic that she became the showstopper.
On our return, aunty started collecting firewood for cooking dinner on the chulha.
Natural living is the way of life I really admire. I quit my job and city life for a natural life. I would love to eat fresh food, drink clean water and breathe fresh air for the rest of my life.
P.S. I was hosted by Kaaphal Hill during my stay there.
Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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