Traditional Himachali Houses made with timber wood, stones, mud and roofed with slates, have been a major attraction for me since I started traveling to Himalayas frequently. I would stand and appreciate the simplicity and beauty of these houses from outside. I photographed different houses I liked on my journeys. I always wondered how it feels like living in these old houses. Living in modern towns of Mithapur, Ahmedabad, Pune and Mumbai, I never got a chance to experience the ways of life in a traditional house.
I'm living in Tirthan Valley since November 2016 in a homestay with a local family of a young couple and their kid. Of course, it is a modernised homestay. Once they planned to visit their old house on the top where the guy's mother lives. They invited me to join them with an under confident tone. They thought I might not like living in an old house with no facilities. I showed a lot of excitement, I told them I was always looking forward to this experience. They assured me that if I don't like it there, we'll come back in a day. I packed my bags preparing myself to live there for 3 days.
I had to hike for 15-20 minutes to reach to their ancestral home. It was a beautiful wooden house, standing alone in the middle of the mountains. The autumn leaves were still adorning the trees in the fruit orchards around the house. I got unobstructed views of the snow covered, cedar-forested and the rocky mountains and a bird's eyes view of Tirthan River. Let me confess, I like the river from close when I can see the crystal clear water and hear the sound of this river.
I started exploring the interiors as soon as I entered the house. The Himachali houses have an covered passage to move around to different rooms. No room is connected internally. The wooden frame for the window had no panes. It was freezing cold in the month of January, with the temperature dipping to 3 degrees in the day and -5 degrees in the night. But nothing could stop me from admiring the beauty of the house and the calmness of the air around me.
She is a darling! Without her, my life would have been very different in Tirthan Valley as living in the Himalayas is not a cake walk. She makes me feel at home. She cooks for me religiously and takes care of all my needs and misses me when I'm not there! She took over the kitchen at her mother-in-law's house and took care of my food habits even there.
The traditional kitchen has a tandoor made out of mud, where they cook food by burning firewood and keep the kitchen warm. There's also an open chulha where the lady is cooking food on firewood. The gas is used only in the time of emergencies. The traditional colourful mats in the kitchen makes a happy place for cooking for the women, and a happy place for me to photograph!
Invariably, every morning of mine starts with a glass of ginger-lemon-honey tea, admiring the sensational mornings in the mountains. This picture has perfectly captured my state of mind in the Himalayas - calm, peaceful, enjoying my solitude and happy living a simple life.
I could spent hours sitting here and admiring a different view that was presented to me! I behaved like a kid who gets lost and indulged in new set of toys.
I follow different workout routines when I live in the Himalayas. Walking and hiking around in the small villages perched on the mountains is my favourite routine. The next favourite is birding. Tirthan Valley is home to so many variety of birds. I don't recognise the birds, but I'm trying to put efforts in that direction. For now I'm happy chasing the birds to capture them in my frames.
Any birder reading my blog, please help me identify these birds. (Thank you Ankit Sood for the names)
The winters are harsh in the Himalayas and it was a vacation time from the school for the kids. The kiddo was so happy playing with his friends in the fields and orchards, grazing goats on mountain tops with his grandmother, jumping on the trees and breathing fresher air. His mom complained to me that he would always remain a jungly villager with these interests of his. I was happier to see him enjoying the basic life. I gave her the example of my life and partly convinced her to let him do what he likes doing and calmed her down.
It pains my heart when the kids in the Himalayas talk about migrating to cities, leaving behind such a healthy and peaceful lifestyle. Though I understand their wish to study, earn and prove themselves, just the way others do, I silently wish that the kids in the Himalayas start valuing their lifestyle and continue living a healthy life.
It is a silent wish currently, I hope someday I can really do something to make a difference!
Even the lady showed me a different side of hers by working in the fields. Till now I had only seen her working in the kitchen and doing the domestic chores.
In my heart I was truly liking whatever I was witnessing.
The Grandmother takes the goats and sheep for grazing every morning. Her neighbour joins her for conversations while they keep a watch on the goats. The kiddo enjoyed playing with the goats too.
Each one was doing their work - the lady worked in the the fields and cooked lunch, the kiddo played with his friends and the goats, the grandmother took the cattle for grazing, the guy had left home early to take care of his construction work. I was doing my part of capturing every moment for this story!
Once the morning routines were done with, it was time for bath. The toilet and bath are just outside the house. I was shocked to know that the old woman had made a water heater on her own with some coils and electrical leftovers. The locals in the Himalayas never fail to impress and humble me.
The ladies get together in the kitchen in the evening for cooking dinner over conversations. The lady knows I love green peas, this dinner is being specially cooked for me.
The conversations continue after the dinner near the 'Tandoor', while the weather is dipping to subzero temperatures.
This was my room in the house. The wooden room was quite cosy and comfortable. I ended up staying here for 3 days. I would have stayed longer if there was internet here. I have booked this room for me again in the spring when the orchards would be blooming with flowers and fruits. This is my second home in the Himalayas.
Drop by Bisht Niwas Homestay in Tirthan Valley and give my regards to Kavita & Mahendra.
Contact no: +91-9418093158.
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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