Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Exploring the Last Indian Village in Uttarakhand - Mana Village (Part I)

Day 4 : Badrinath - Alaknanda River and Brahma Kapal Ghat - Tapt Kund and Panch Shilas - Badrinath Temple - EXPLORING THE LAST INDIAN VILLAGE IN UTTARAKHAND, MANA VILLAGE (PART I) - Mana Village - Places to visit (Part II)  - Diwali celebrations in the Badrinath Temple

At 3118 mtrs (10229 ft) above sea level, in the shadows of the holy town Badrinath, is pitched a pretty little village in Uttarakhand - Mana. Better known as the last Indian village before the border with Tibet, the village is famed for the dazzling vistas it offers and the intriguing history that is scattered amongst its rustic lanes and idyllic slopes and to experience this first hand we headed for the Mana village from Badrinath at about 3 in the afternoon after a short nap in the Devlok hotel.

A board displaying the Height of Mana Village in the Himalayas

The drive to Mana was very smooth with some of the best views we have had till now, it just took us around 15 mins to reach the place.


Welcome to Mana Village - the last village on the Indo-Chinese border near Badrinath in Uttarakhand
Amazing scenery as viewed from Mana village in the Himalayas
Smooth roads and spectacular views
encountered during the drive to the Mana village

The first thing I noticed on reaching the place was the stillness in the air. For a town so close to Badrinath, where pilgrims flock in hordes, Mana was completely a laid-back retreat…very calm and quiet… perhaps may be again our off-season-visit had a big role to play in this. It was getting dark by the time we reached the place, the sun was just beginning to take cover behind the mountains, the air was crisp and in no hurry to get anywhere just like the people here.


Beautiful vistas in the Mana Village near Badrinath in Uttarakhand
Dazzling views in the Mana Village near Badrinath in Uttarakhand
Sun ready to take cover in the mountains

Mana is a small village stuck in time – one has to park one’s vehicles at the village border itself and walk around on foot thus giving you a chance for a refreshing walk in the midst of the heavenly Himalayan surroundings – just you and nature!


Breathtaking scenes and scenary in the Mana village near Badrinath
Gorgeous beauty of the Mana Village near Badrinath
The majestic mountains, the sparkling waters and the haunting beauty
all around were only just adding gems to this tiny paradise

The town instantly drew me in with its old world charm that was visible in the traditional houses and the narrow roads that take you through the village.


Narrow walks through the Mana Village in the Himalayas
A walk in the mountains

Most of the houses were sealed (I am not sure if you can see that in the pic), as the village was about to shut down for the winters (for 6 months or so as it gets snow-bound with sub-zero temperatures) and residents had begun to move towards the lower areas.

Houses of the Mana Villagers near Badrinath in the Himalayas
Sealed doors in the Mana Village

The narrow quaint lanes through the beauty of nature and the traditional small woody huts took me further into a world full of peace and tranquility. There were small field like patches outside the houses which the villagers cultivate to grow vegetables and other edible stuff for self consumption.


Fields outside the houses of the Mana people
Field patches cultivated by the Mana villagers in the mountains
Patchy Fields

As I walked further, I noticed that most of the inhabitants of the village (the last generation of the Indo-Mangolian tribes) were engrossed in their respective works…the women were either doing farm activities or wrapping up their household tasks while the men were out in the shops.


Village Women of Mana busy in their daily chores in the Himalayas
A hard day’s work is not yet over… The womenfolk busy in their daily chores

Perched at such a high altitude and leading an almost isolated kind of life, I could not help but admire the élan with which they carry on their difficult, hard working and rudimentary existence even in such hard and unfriendly conditions…


Humble houses of the Mana villagers in Uttarakhand
Mana Village at a glance

The Mana people are also reputed for their weaving skills. The hand woven shawls, carpets or durries and sweaters are a masterpiece in themselves.

Hand woven Carpets by the Mana villagers
Fascinating works of art by the Mana people on display

But the best was definitely saved for the last: Potatoes! Yes Mana is famous for its potato produce and this I had well gauged this, the moment we had entered the village. Big potato sacks were neatly arranged, and stacked up for sale right at the entrance itself. I was guessing from the Harsil apple episode that Vishwanath was never going to leave it and never ever going to let us leave from here without taking one! And I was right!
He decided to take the matters in his own hands…

Famous potatoes of the Mana village near Badrinath town in Uttarakhand
Vishwanth (in blue jacket) haggling with the traders

Since it was the village closing time, he wanted them cheaper than the quoted prices…

Potatoes bargain by our driver Vishwanth in the Mana village near Badrinath in the Himalayas
Vishwanth very happy and content with the bargain :)

The sack was humongous, so we split it into two; one for us and one for him. We bought ours back home and relished these pahadi aloos (mountain potatoes) to our heart’s content and distributed it amongst our relatives too.


An incredible evening it was reminding me again of what a wonderful break it is to relish those hushed moments of beauty and silence at its very best!


Previous posts from this trip -


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76 comments:

  1. Oh, you're so lucky to be driven to Mana. I walked.
    Those days the village was much smaller. We went past the military post too.
    Yes, agree the air is relaxing and peaceful.

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  2. I love places like Mana (ie. laid-back & quiet). Pictures are one more beautiful than the other. My favorites are the one with the sun rays and weaved articles, their colors are so lovely.

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  3. What a fascinating post - your photographs capture beautifully what must be a very special place.

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  4. Dear Arti
    I was waiting for this episode!! Thank you so much for the photos on mana village. I was not allowed to take camera to Mana when I visited last time many years back. I think, now it is allowed, need to find out if one can take camera up to Basundhara fall.
    I read your previous posting , and read it many times. Now I realized I forgot to type few words of appreciation! It was great reading indeed.
    Have a nice week

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  5. beautiful images of an amazing place!!

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  6. I can't wait to commence my Amarnath trip..! Wonderful Arti..!

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  7. I'm glad to hear that they can plant potatoes at this place.
    If I'll go there, I'm sure that I plant a lot of potatoes with people living there.

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  8. Lovely post!!! I really liked the picture with a cabbage peeking out from a corner!!!!

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  9. Well, you have covered the length and breadth of the village in one go, was anything else left in the village :)
    It's a nice feeling being in the last village of India and just across is an unknown land that is strikingly similar but barred for us.

    Kudos to you for this excellent stuff and looking forward for more.. happy blogging!

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  10. That weaving is simply beautiful as are the views of the mountains.

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  11. What an incrediblely gorgeous place! Such an interesting post and superb captures as always, Arti. Your photos are always the next best thing to being there myself -- and I would have loved to be there! Hope your week is going well!

    Sylvia

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  12. Everytime I see a post on any place in the Himalayan region of India something inside of me sincerely urges me to go visit... I hope I get to some day. Really interesting specifically to see the livelihood in the 'last village' specially the haggling on the potatoes lol
    US Masala is hosting a giveaway. Do check it out here

    US Masala

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  13. I'm in awe of this scenery and the lifestyle here in this village. I would so love to walk that narrow road through the village, and just breathe the air and take it all in. I think I would have to pinch myself, because it would be easy to fall into a state of disbelief. the vastness of this unique world leaves me wanting more. thanks for sharing this Arti.

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  14. I love potatoes! The weaving is beautiful, and those clouds look like they are coming out of the mountains! They are sealed up all that time? Don't they get sick? How could anyone get to them to help them? How do they get any food?

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  15. Desire to visit my home state gets stronger every time i visit you.Thanks for this amazing post on Mana.Waiting for the next part.....

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  16. So faszinating Arti - how i long for this stillness sometimes! Would love to slip into these pix and trail of with you for today! xox

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  17. the post itself takes me to the different world.. Aarti, you rock,, nice work and nice pics..

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  18. So you have sent us again in the heaven on this earth only.........What a wonderful pics, I am just watching them again and again. All feelings are stopped and mind is in eternal bliss.

    Thanks for sharing all this.

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  19. @ The Chair Speaks
    We too crossed the military posts, infact much of the area belongs to them.

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  20. @ Ushnish Ghosh
    When did you visit it Ushnish da?
    Now camera is allowed in Mana village. Dont know about Vasudhara falls, missed it this time.

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  21. @ Shridharan
    Even I am excited about your Amarnath trip!! Safe journey. Keep us posted.

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  22. @ cocomino
    They taste wonderful too!

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  23. @ Santosh
    Yes there are still things left, Part 2 coming up next!!

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  24. @ Aipi
    Ya, the Himalayas can do that to anyone... They have a magnetic power to attract people!!
    Will surely participate in the giveaway, congrats on completing 1 glorious year of blogging:)

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  25. @ Ms. Becky
    Even I am tempted to go there again, looking at this post... Just a gorgeous place!

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  26. @ Ginny
    There arent people in those sealed houses Ginny! The people (the whole village population) moves to the lower reaches of the Himalayas during winters!!

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  27. @ Mohini
    Its really heaven on earth... You want to get lost there!!

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  28. @ ALL
    Thanks for those comments. Yes, its a lovely place to visit with nature playing its part to the fullest.

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  29. Hello,Arti!
    The arts by Mana people are wonderful!
    Are the arts made to sale for exporting to other countries? The works are very original arts. I like them. Do Mana people come back into the village from their lower areas in spring? I love potatoes too!
    Have a great day.
    Tomoko.

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  30. Dearest Arti,

    YOUR excursions through a land unknown to me bring me to the revelation that no matter where you have been OR HAVE NOT BEEN, there is a common thread that connects us all...the need for beauty. What a heavenly place indeed, amongst the majesty of the MOUNTAINS!!!! THANK YOU FOR YOU EVER SO KIND WORDS about my post. I means so much to me that my ideas do touch others around the world...and VICE VERSA! BIG HUGS, Anita

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  31. Beautiful pics! Incredible India. There is so much in India to explore and enjoy! And you are lucky to be able to do that.

    Good luck!
    Keep traveling. Keep exploring.

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  32. It looks so peaceful and I love how remote it is and that the locals move before the winter.

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  33. Awesome pictures, as usual. Such a quaint picture perfect village tucked away in the mountains....Heavenly! Do continue the Yatra, Arti:)

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  34. It's an awesome experience to be so close to nature. Loved the 5th picture on the post. I am from Himachal, your post made me so homesick in Boston.

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  35. Sounds wonderful to be in that quiet rural village after being around crowds for a while. It is beautiful there.

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  36. @ Redrose
    The art is for sale in those regions, I dont know about whether they are exported to other countries.
    And yes the people return back to the village once the summer kicks in.

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  37. Great post & Beautiful photographs.Hope some day I will be visit the awesome place.

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  38. Dear Arti,
    Thanks a lot for sharing your Mana Yatra. I too had visited this village in 1985. Nothing seems to have changed during all this period in that village. We had to walk that three Kms. with my two small children. Your post does not find mention of Bheem Pul (bridge) and Vyas Gufa. Or will it form part of Part II of your writing.

    Your all photos are really great. Take one very close to divine nature. I also recall having seen big glaciers, in fact we walk over them many times.

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  39. And the post rewinds memories when I was there last year. Thanks for writing and sharing.

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  40. “A refreshing walk in the midst of the heavenly Himalayan surroundings ..”: my senses remind me of what it’s like from my past experience in Japanese mountains, still I can’t fully imagine as Himalayan mountains are so special. I have just yearning with sighs.

    Stuck-in-time Mana village is so attractive to visit, however I don’t think I can endure such life once I know this convenience I have now, but surely there’s something there we have left behind. Thank you for the introduction of this paradise, Arti.

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  41. @ vishan lal
    Wow! 1985... That must be quite nostalgic, the camera wont be allowed at that time as Ushnish Ghosh has commented above...
    And yes Bhim Pul and Vyas Gufa will form the next part...
    There were large glaciers but those were on the opposite side of the valley.

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  42. Very fascinating information. I particularly like your photo of the beautiful works of art.

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  43. What lovely shots of a beautiful place!

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  44. I thank you so much, why i travel with your great photos , in places distant and beautiful, that I will not go ever ...
    I wish you a beautiful summer!
    many greetings

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  45. yet another wonderful post... the last village of india... must have been an amazing people...
    the photos r brilliant as usual... seems the people are so mingled with the nature...
    the mountains are wonderful... had a complete feeling of peace on seeing these pictures...

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  46. Beautiful photography Arthi...it was amazing looking and reading ur post...ya I am off blog world again for some time but will be back soon ..thanks so much for the support tht u show Arthi it is much appreciated !

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  47. Wonderful skies, Arti. I love the cloud formation and the flare by the sun. Thanks for this fascinating visual trip, my friend. Happy weekend. :)

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  48. अपनी चार साल पहले बाइक पर की गयी ये यात्रा दुबारा याद हो आयी।
    फ़ोटो बहुत अच्छे लगे।

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  49. I had also visited Mana village with my family in
    1998.Also visited Vyas Gufa,Bhim pul and many other places.Your presentation with pictures is excellent.It refreshed my memories.
    Thanks.
    You are welcome on my blog.

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  50. Hey do you know anything about ShivaKashi?

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  51. Hi Arti, "Mana" in English sometimes refers to magic and your tour there was certainly magical. My favorite photo is of the sun going down behind the Himalayas. I can almost taste those potatoes grown in the crisp mountain air!

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  52. I felt divinity, serenity and quietness of the mountains as if I were there. Himalaya Mountains are depicted as the most holy place in the mural painting of Yakushi-ji Temple. Probably I won't be able to visit such a high altitude, but your photos and words took me there. Arti, Thanks a lot.

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  53. An interesting place for sure! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am presently on hiatus from posting on blog until I get some things accomplished that need getting taken care of.

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  54. Hi Arti,

    Your pictures are amazing that you captured on your adventurous trip! How blessed you are to be able to travel to such a beautiful place.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. Have a wonderful week!

    xoxo...Gloria

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  55. Hi Arti,

    thanks for visiting my blog and promoting my post.

    Incidentally I have added two snaps of my dog on the train...thought you might like to know.
    Here is the link

    http://restlesssouldier.blogspot.com/2011/07/travelling-with-dog-by-train.html

    thanks

    RS

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  56. There's such amazing serenity Arti... I long to go spend my days in such wilderness and peace. The pictures are beautiful too!

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  57. @Tech Blogger If you are talking about Shivakashi of Tamil Nadu, then I am afraid i don't have any information on it.

    But there is a town by the name of Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand and if you are referring to that, then you can follow the link I have pasted below -


    Exploring Uttarkashi in Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand

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  58. @Barb The place was certainly magical and i never knew Mana also refers to the word 'Magic'. Thanks for sharing :)

    @Snowwhite The Himalayan region is known as the abode of the Gods, a holy place holding some of the most sacred sites in India. Many pilgrimage places can be found at the foothills of these mountains and peaks, the most revered among them being the Char Dhams of the Garhwal region. Many thanks for sharing the info with us.

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  59. Such a serene, simple life people lead in villages. Have only heard of this tiny village, thanks for sharing pics and more info on it Arti! Must-go!!

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  60. Your pictures are amazing that you captured on your adventurous trip!Beautiful photography..bice work frnd

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  61. Wow Arti, you really captured spirit of the place through the pictures and words :)

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  62. Thanks Arti, for this lovely blog! I missed seeing Mana when I went to Badrinath, but you made this up for me.. :)

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  63. Wonderful experience. The landscapes are very scenic.

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  64. Lovely description as usual. Thanks for taking us to this journey to Mana. I am so totally dying to get to a calm place like that away from the din of Mumbai.

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  65. I remember the road sign indicating Mana Village but I diverted towards Ghangaria...

    Itching for another trip but dunno how I'll manage time!!

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  66. My God, Arti...So serene a place! Lovely to get a glimpse of this beautiful place thru ur pics...and the durries are fabulous! Lucky you...:)

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  67. Hello Arti,

    Thanks for refreshing my memories.
    I had gone to Mana village back in 2007. I remember the peace and serenity I had experienced up there. Enjoyed going through your post.
    Thanks.

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  68. Fascinating Arti! Thanks for giving us a free ride to Mana :)

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  69. What a lovely place!!! You are lucky that you got to visit such a beautiful place. Your lively pictures and narration transported me there :)

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  70. I remember this post, one of the first few I guess I read on your blog. Feels great to read it again...Thanks Twitter...:)

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  71. This is an excellent blog. I randomly check about Mana village google brings me to this blog. I read about mana 7 years ago. and after that i never find a good reading about that place. now you bring back to me that peaceful place in front of my eyes. i like to read about thapovan and other holy places even i know there. reading gives me satisfaction and happiness. thanks

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