When I found a foster family and a home – Kaaphal Hill
Cracking pine fruits on the top of hill with 180 degree panorama, she tells me how we are sitting right on the border of Pittoragarh and Bageshwar districts. It took almost 45 minutes of hiking to reach the top, and I was still out of breath. I asked aunty to show me their land, and little did I know that entire hill belongs to them. I reached huffing and puffing to the top, while she being 60, made fun of me. Aunty is one of the most adorable women I have met lately . She is the main force behind ‘Kaaphal hill’, a lively homestay named after the wild fruits grown here.
Chaukori, I started to know this place as a pit stop between Almorah and Munisyaari as they are pretty far away. I didn’t know that I would fall in love with this place head over heals. For me travel is always about meeting people, knowing their stories, sharing a moment or two with them and make memories. What else is life, if not about having good memories? And Chaukori not only gave me some memorable moments but also a family I dearly adore now.
As I begin to write about them, I feel I am writing about someone close to me. So forgive me if I use too many adjectives, but they so deserve it. The aged couple has taught me some great lessons of life in a few days. They are hard working people, who work throughout the day to ensure they lead a natural way of life. From vegetable, fruits, grains, pulses to dairy products; they don’t buy anything at all from outside. I mean, everything is home produced and 100% organic; well intended to lead a natural healthy life. And their good health and unfading charm is proof that how good is the outcome.
My mother always used to tell me how I should have been born in a dairy farm, knowing my love for milk and yogurt. Now I know a home where I can saviour both. Aunty makes some delicious Madua (Finger Millet) chapati in her traditional stove, dipped in ghee. She gave me taste of almost all pahadi cuisines, using homegrown ingredients. And uncle, who is now 70 also helps her even in cooking as well as other household chores . When I praised uncle about his will to help aunty, he said “those men are fools who don’t know how to cook”. I wish, other men can learn something from his wise advice.
Uncle was an employee in Horticulture department, and using his knowledge about herbs and vegetation; he has built Kaaphal hill as great accumulation of trees and plants. The fruit trees provide food to the birds, who fly around all morning signing in the rain. I used to spot a variety of birds from the window of my room. Uncle used to bring my share of some fresh pears and peaches for me everyday with his radiant smile.
I used to hike around inhaling the fresh air, there was absolute peace around. It is a place where one can write, paint, soaked in the artistic and positive vibes. Probably, that’s the reason Tarun has picked it all. Tarun, their son who takes care of “Kaaphal hill’ is an avid mountaineer, a fantastic painter, has participated on national level for Muay Thai boxing, well trained in skating and now a photography enthusiast. He also helps in coordination for local women’s self-help group ‘Himalayan Naari’, so more importantly a noble soul who has all the right intentions to help people around. I was amazed to meet him, belonging to such a small place he has mastered so many arts. And he wishes to develop the same skills in the locals kids so that they can earn their living without migrating to the cities.
The simplicity of their life is also reflected in the home-stay, it is a beautiful yet simple accommodation with clean rooms and a big hall. Though the magic lies outside as I step in the jungle to roam around chasing the birds and butterflies. Top of the Kaaphal hill became my favorite spot to hike, and do yoga and meditation beneath the pine trees and in the company of huge rocks.
I used to tell aunty jokingly how I am willing to make a ‘hermitage’ for myself on the top and live in the peace. There were many lovely moments we shared together which would probably keep me afloat in city life for a while, till I decide to go back in the heaven again. So if you ask me why should I recommend you to go there? It’s for love of real people, unaltered nature and to live a thing called ‘life’.
Here is the website, in case you already made your mind to visit them- http://kaaphalhill.in/
Did you ever feel if you found a family which is beyond the blood relationships while traveling in India? I would like to know your story