Joy of discovering a new destination- Dharamghar, Kumaon
Discovering a new travel destination is a pure joy. An exhilarating feeling to talk about a place which has not been written about. I guess these are some of the rewards for travelling slow. When you are not time bound by plans or travel itinerary, you might discover something pure and original, unsullied untouched and un-altered. You witness the life the way it was since long, not affected by the tourism gimmicks. And I was struck by such a feeling when I was exploring Dharamghar, a tiny hamlet on the western Himalayan Range in Kumaon.
Dharamghar is a small sleepy town, nestled in the dense oak forest. As soon as you enter the village through spiraling roads covered with Oak trees on the both sides, you notice the sudden drop of temperature. The forest erupts alive with a cacophony of noises all around, creatures and insects hidden from our view screeching and croaking, birds chirping myriad melodies which explode on you, especially in the monsoon. These roads are so inviting; the surroundings cast a spell on you taking you to a world unknown and unimagined -a true paradise for the travelers especially the bikers.
I strolled down the center of the village, an accumulation of a few local shops, early in the morning. Mr. Chandar Singh had just opened the shop wearing a very neat suit, a very unusual way of dressing for a tea vendor. Soon there were more people started pouring in from other shops to see and know about this new girl who has suddenly appeared on the village.The curiosity and eagerness to know about the stranger was visible on their faces. They whole heartedly welcomed me with their warm smile and hot tea. Soon I was surrounded by bunch of happy unassuming people owning shops of clothes, sweets, grocery etc.; all serving the daily needs of the small population residing in Dharamghar.
Dharamghar has developed very recently. I learnt from the locals that it wasn’t long back when there were no roads, no electricity and just one bus each day to go to neighboring places. And now Dharamghar has opened its first homestay, and I got the privilege to be their first guest. Dhamot Homestay is being run by a Shauka tribe family. Chetan, the homestay owner introduced me to neighbors and some of them are still into the old business of weaving and knitting. The charm of the old ladies there enamored me to photograph them; and I learnt a thing or two from them.
Dharamghar is also known for the ‘Himdarshan Kutir’ – an ashram established by Sarla Behen (original name Catherine Mary Heilman), a disciple of Gandhiji. The main Ashram is in Kausani and this one is not functioning now and has only two ladies to take care of the small museum there and the property. I am not surprised that Sarla Behen chose to spend her last days in this paradise, a true abode of nature where you can spend your time in peace and tranquility.
How to reach Dharamgarh:
Dharamghar is almost 9 kms from Chaukori and 25 kms from Berinag. Shared taxis run from both the locations to reach Dharamghar. There are also some taxis which can be hired from Haldwani/Kathgodam to Dharmghar and can be arranged by Dhamot homestay on request. Private taxis are also available to suit your convenience.
Where to stay:
Dhamot home stay is the only homestay/hotel in Dharmghar; however it provides you all the basic facilities one might need. The cottages and the tents are tailored to provide comfort to the guests. Separate toilets have been also provided. The family-run homestay is an ideal place to relax and un-wind. Bhutiyas are known for their excellent cooking skills, and Dhamot homestay was a standing proof for that. Chetan is a very friendly host and a certified mountaineer. He also arranges treks and expeditions for the guests to different areas of Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas.
Cost of stay per night per guest including all three meals: INR 1100/-
You may reach them here http://mountainheights.in
Things to do:
– Explore nature in its simplest and tranquil form.
– Spend time with the simple, warm and welcoming local folks
– Stroll in the tea gardens and try a hand in plucking leaves along with the local workers
– Bird watching and spotting varieties of butterflies
– Visit Avani center- wool processing center to meet local artisans
– Visit Sarala Behen’s Ashram and museum
– Trek to Shekhar for a panoramic view of Himalayan peaks at a height of 2800 meters.
– Visit musk deer park