Wecome to the unseen beauty of Uttarakhand ! [Part-1]

by Namrata Nautiyal
the unseen beauty of Uttarakhand


Its sub zero temperature, and people here are in the mood to celebrate. Why? Because there are 3 new brides coming to the village today  😀


Wednesday, 9th December 2015

One week after the wedding….I am here in Haja, Uttarakhand with my new family for my 3rd reception ! But first, lets not get ahead of ourselves….let me take you back a little bit. Its been a packed schedule ever since the wedding. We landed in Delhi on Monday, 7th December and ever since we have been on the road. First stop was Dehradun and then one day in Mussoorie and from there we left for Kalsi which is around 50kms away. We had a long bumpy journey the next day and so we decided to stay the night at the Kalsi army (mess) base camp.

It was sometime in the evening when we started our journey. Till date, I had never witnessed winters before…I have been a Mumbai girl all my life, so winters doesn’t really count. But this year was going to be very different. And the drive from Dehradun to Kalsi gave me just the idea of what was coming my way. It was cold. Lets just put it that way. With jungle on both sides of the road, somewhere I wished the drive was during daytime…I could have enjoyed the scenery more…but the forest was dense enough to bring down the temperature by a few degrees at the very least.

We reached Kalsi around 10:00-10:30pm. We were staying the night in the Kalsi army base camp which houses the 2 by 2 army which is known to be one of the most fierce of the army troupes. This was all very new to me. Till now, I had no dur-dur ka connection also with defense, so  I was totally mesmerized by whatever I was seeing. We entered the facility and were driving towards our guest house but for some reason we ended up taking a wrong route and landed up on an open field. The car stopped for like a second and suddenly out of nowhere an army personnel came running with a rifle in hand. He did not look happy (but you should have seen the smile on my face 😛 ) My folks showed him the proper identification and in a matter of few minutes with everything sorted he directed us to the guest house.

The place was beautiful. With big gardens in front of the bungalow houses, it really felt like home away from home. We comfortably retired to our rooms and sat in front of the heater. (Something I have never done before). We were discussing the trip ahead and all along everyone was scaring me. The village (Haja) was at an altitude of 7500 ft above sea level and the road leading to the village was quite under developed…it had sharp turns, extremely scary cliffs and the road was wide enough for not even one car to go through. I was getting tips like:


Sleep through the journey, whatever you do don’t open your eyes – Your head will be forever out of the car (vomiting), you don’t know how steep those cliffs are – You will see your cars one tire is off the road, its that bad – Its a 2 hour journey but it takes like 4 to reach the place because of the ghats

But the worst one that I heard was this:

You will see small temples all across the journey to the hills. I was like, so? Those small temples are made at that particular place every time a car or vehicle goes down the hills ! 


😕  😯  😕 Think of the feeling of a wolf howling in the middle of the night when you are alone in the jungle? I got goosebumps with the same feeling. But I stayed strong and I didn’t show it. I have traveled n number of times on Mumbai-Pune expressway (I know this doesn’t count AT ALL but still,) and have been on a road trip to the North East. It can’t be worse than that ! I kept telling myself, it can’t be that bad…this is just masala talks.

unseen beauty of Uttarakhand

Apparently not! See the landslide prone area

In the comforts of the guest house, I had no idea I was being prepared to see sights like these the next day.

It was really cold but I had to take a head bath. I was going to be received by a lot of people at the village the next day, and I needed to look decent at the very least. But it was seriously cold, like I had 2 sweaters on and a shawl over and above whatever I was wearing. I decided I didn’t have the will power to go on and that I would take bath early morning. Already it was pitch dark, and even though we were in the safest area possible, I didn’t trust what demons might attack me while I was showering.

5:30am the next morning, I got up all ready to face my fears. There was hot water – relatively hot which was quite welcoming in the wee hours of the morning. There was one window in the bathroom and unfortunately it was slightly open…the window pane was a little rusted and no matter how much I tried pushing, it wouldn’t budge. I thought, let it be…little air hole doesn’t hurt anybody. The next few minutes I would know just how painful a little air hole can get…

I got all nice and soaked, lathered up my hair, the water was perfect. It felt so relaxing even at that morning hour. Just what I needed. And just when I thought that – I touched the running tap water and whatttt ! …hot water is replaced by super cold, bone chilling torturous cold water !!! How did this happen !!!! The worst had come true. That moment was the only trying time in this 16 day celebratory wedding trip that I had.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It was bad. I was shaking by the end of it + that air hole just made it one whole level lot worse. I think I prayed to all the Gods that I could recount at that time. By the time I was out I was shaking like a leaf…No amount of heater, shawl anything would help for the next half hour. It was painful. But that exercise also prepared me well enough to face the harsh winters ahead of us. Not one day after this episode, did I ever let a similar situation crop up. I was prepared and alert now ! Definitely alert !

That was the first day, first time I ever used a hair dryer. Yes big shocker…but I have never used one. I mean who would need one in Mumbai…Its so sweaty humid, we normally wait for the hair to not dry at all because of the weather there, but this was in the North…and I should have known that. The hair dryer was needed today. Cold water is ruthless and my hands had already gone numb. There was no other way out. I think that morning is when I missed my mom the most after the wedding…till then, it was too rosy pinky…but that cold alone in the shower really got me all mushied up.

By the time I was done, had morning breakfast and everyone was ready to start the road trip to Haja, it was close to 9am. I went out and it was a beautiful sight. With nature surrounding us in abundance, and cool winter mornings…I finally started to enjoy the weather. I had been through the worst earlier that day, so the weather outside was a welcome change. There is something really positive when you move out of the city. Its the air you know…its just so fresh, you just automatically get into a good mood.


Everything starting that morning has been nothing short of a dream. A dream I refuse to get up from. Its been such a blessing, I wish I could go back once again and relive it all. I feel truly blessed. I stayed in Haja – our ancestral village for a little over a week…and trust me, every day had its share of celebrations. Will be sharing all the details in the coming posts. You cannot miss this.


Stay tuned.

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