Kalap is a tiny hamlet in the upper Garhwal Himayalas along the valley of River Supin close to the popular trekking destinations of Har-Ki-Doon and Kedarkantha. Untouched and unexplored, it offers a memorable escapade complete with subtle views of the Himalayas and a taste of the local culture and traditions. As spring arrives after a chilly winter, the moods of the village are a treat to behold, scripting a true Himalayan experience.
Spring Arrives The snow capped mountains glow reflecting the light of the persistent spring sun as late winter gives way to a cheery spring. Summits which have been carpeted with silken snow for the past few months enjoy warm afternoons and feed the dormant streams awakened from their slumber. Pink flowers grace the trees ready to bear fruit and the high altitude grasslands groan under the weight of the withering snow nurturing a variety of flowers ready to bloom.
Kalap, a tranquil Himalayan village Kalap is a village nestled in the bosom of the Garhwal Himalayas along the River Supin which is a major tributary of the River Tons. It is accessible by a trek of about 5-6 hours from the settlement of Netwar which is around 210 kms from Dehradun. The village is endowed with pristine natural beauty – sparkling brooks, dense jungles of pine and deodar and grand views of the Himalayas – including peaks like Bandarpunch, Black Peak and Swaragrohini.
Culture at Kalap The village comprises of around fifty houses built with wood and stone and a few ornamented with intricate carvings. On account of being located close to the border of Uttarakhand with Himanchal Pradesh, the culture is a mish-mash of Gharwali and Himanchali traditions. Gharwali is the primary language, Hindi is well understood and Himanchali songs are often relished. Karna, from the epic Mahabharata, is widely worshipped with a beautiful temple dedicated to this ancient hero.
People of Kalap The people are simple and friendly, untouched by the mistrust pervading our urban spaces they are excellent hosts showering utmost affection on visiting tourists. The children are naughty and greatly at ease with the wild as the valleys and mountain tops are their playgrounds. While wandering the lanes of the village it is not uncommon to be invited for a snack of rotis, delicious ghee and pickle downed with butter milk. Life is tough in this inhospitable terrain but the spirit of the people is unwavering.
Food at Kalap Agriculture is the main source of income and, considering the lack of machinery, it involves hard manual labour. Crops are grown on terraced fields irrigated by the streams flowing down the hill and ploughed with oxen using traditional methods. Usually three crops are yielded in a year – mustard, wheat, chaulai (amaranth), rajma (kidney beans) and mandua (finger millet) are some of the crops grown here. Apart from these a variety of green vegetables like nettle, fenugreek and lingda are relished with rice and pulses.
Flirting with rain in Kalap After a flurry of clear sunny days, grey clouds roll from the Himalayas and engulf the village unleashing rain, sleet and chilly winds. The pitter patter of the rain on the tin rooftops is interrupted by angry thunder growls and bolts of lightning. Snow gently caresses the deodar trees and settles on the lofty ridges. A double rainbow appears in the dreary sky so close that you can reach out and grab it.
Trails of Kalap For the nature lover, several trails around the village present an opportunity to venture deep into the woods and experience the camaraderie with nature. These trails often thread silent dense jungles of pine, oak and deodar where the wind whistles and birds chirp with joy. White butterflies hover on red blooming buransh (rhododendron) which dot the landscape and intoxicate the senses; bees buzz in the yellow ripened mustard fields.
Himalayan Views from Kalap From the village, exquisite views of the Himalayan peaks and valleys can be enjoyed – the bugyal (high altitude grasslands) of Kedarkantha covered with snow, the snow-capped peaks of the Bandarpunch Range and surrounding peaks, the valley of river Supin and its confluence with the river Rupin and the pointed summits of Swargarohini (steps to heaven).
Going higher in search of snow In the higher reaches the winter snow stands resolute hiding from the gaze of the sun. The grasslands remain buried in the deep snow – the shepherds waiting patiently for the snow to melt so that they can take their herds to greener pastures. The beautiful Himalayan Monal creates a ruckus in the ravines where no humans have ventured in the past few months and where the trails have been swallowed by rotting trees and leaves.
Sunset at Kalap At sunset one can behold the various colours dancing on the peaks – orange and pink and golden. The valleys are bathed with a golden hue and the cotton clouds reflect the mood of the sun. The peaks rise against the backdrop of an azure sky beaming in the fading light of the day.
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About the Author & Photographer: An engineer by profession, Deeptangan likes to explore India, meet its people, savour its cuisines, climb its mountains and sail down its rivers. Born and brought up in the shadow of the Great Himalayas, he reveres the mighty mountains as the temples where he has been educated. When not writing code, he is trekking in the Himalayas and the Western Ghats, writing, reading books and enjoying music.