Reaching The Goat Village (TGV)
A few months ago I was invited for a stay at The Goat Village in Pantwari, 100 kilometres from Dehradun in Uttarakhand, on the Nag Tibba Trek route. Early one November morning amidst chilling temperatures, I reached Dehradun. I was to be joined by my school friend Amrit for the 3 day trip.
A day earlier, Purnima from TGV had got me in touch with our driver Surendra who told us that the cab would leave for Pantwari at 7 am. Loading our bags on the carrier, Amrit and I took the back seats in the cab, more out of compulsion than choice. (It was a welcome realisation that due to so many people with motion sickness on mountain roads, front seats in cabs are pre-booked and there aren’t many alternate transportation options!)
4 hours later we arrived at Pantwari village after a terrible journey with my motion sickness in full action. It was a relief to get out of the cab.
|The view just after sunrise from our cottage. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand. November 2016|
The Goat Village is a 4 km uphill trek from here. After a delicious vegetable maggi at one of the village shops for breakfast, we were headed to Laser Gaon sitting on top of a jeep along with Magan, our guide cum porter. This is the mid-point on the way to Goat Village and the last point until which motorable vehicles can go. It was a dusty but amazing 15 minute ride. The final 2 kms were to be trekked and a signboard to the Goat Village welcomed us.
‘It can’t be very difficult’, I thought, ‘it’s just 2 kms after all’.
How very wrong I was.
|The first of the many signboards on the trek route. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|The beautiful view from the trek route. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|Our first view of TGV as we arrived. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
It didn’t take both of us more than 200 metres to be breathless and panting. Magan seemed to be fine carrying my suitcase easily. 'Never again make the mistake of carrying a suitcase while heading to a trek destination', I made a mental note. Amrit had already had a few laughs since morning.
We stopped at innumerable locations on the way. The sight of the valley was what kept us going, the higher we went the more beautiful it seemed to become.
‘How long does it take you to reach on your own speed?’ we asked Magan.
‘Not much. Once I drop you, the trek down to Pantwari won’t take me more than 15-20 minutes,’ he said in a matter of fact voice.
It took us over an hour to reach The Goat Village. Altitude: 7700 feet.
The welcome and reception
We were welcomed by Mani, the manager, and his team and a glass of red rhododendron juice. The juice tasted good and after the arduous climb, it was a relief to have it.
We were seated in a multi purpose hall that served as a sitting cum dining space. Each side of this green building was made of glass with sunlight creeping in from the top making it a greenhouse to grow plants in the centre. Each corner of this beautiful room had a story to tell. I couldn’t stop myself from clicking a few pictures.
|The beautiful sitting area had a story to tell from every corner. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|The TGV Timetable. 'Pretend it's 1995'. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|A Cup of Positivitea, The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|Beautifully done architecture in the sitting area. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
It was almost lunch time and the rice and dal tasted like the best food we have ever had. We were joined by Mani and Elita, a fellow blogger from Mumbai.
Manita, one of The Goat Villagers, led us on a stone path towards the cottages and showed us our room. It was beautiful and huge. The view of the valley from the room was breathtaking and Amrit was quick to capture the bed next to the window. ‘I want to wake up to this amazing view,’ he said and laughed.
We were soon to realise that there is no electricity here. Candles, kerosene lanterns and solar lamps were out by the time the bell (yes!) for the evening tea rang and we headed to the sitting area. (There is a small solar farm that has been recently setup- good enough to keep your phones and camera batteries charged)
|Cottages created of mud, cement and wood. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|The Entrance to our cottage. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|The valley facing window. Imagine waking up to the view every morning. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|Minimal but important furniture in the room. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|View of the interior of the room. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
Why ‘The Goat Village’
The room had already been lit with candles on each table and Mani joined us for tea. He told us about the place and how it had been built less than a year ago as a sustainable development project in the area.
‘All the food that you are served is indigenously grown here in the village. All the buildings are made of a mixture of mud, wood and cement and are stronger than any brick house, even earthquake resistant,’ he told us.
TGV is not a huge village, it is a mountain resort with 10 well made cottages. About a year back, it was constructed in the middle of nature. It comprises of farms to grow vegetables, especially ones which are only grown on hilly terrain here in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas. There is also a good herd of mountain goats that are cared for here. ‘Goat milk and other derived products are highly beneficial for health,’ Mani told us.
The Goat Village is an initiative by ‘The Green People’. They are working towards reverse migration of farmers by protecting micro-cultures and operating in middle and lower Himalayan belts at the moment by operating farm retreats and home stays and promoting Himalayan village farm produce by the name of ‘Bakri Chhap’. The entire initiative is here to help the rural people have a source of income and livelihood.
‘It’s a well thought of and curiosity inducing name- The Goat Village’, I thought.
|Of course there are the cutest of the goats at The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
|And there is a 'Chick-Inn' too. The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand|
The warm hospitality of the Goat Villagers
The temperature had started falling and there was a definite chill in the air, something we hadn’t realised during our trek earlier in the day. There was a bonfire in the kitchen area and we sat there warming ourselves before dinner as Manita and Priyanka served us soup.
The super moon was two nights away and the brightness of the moon right now was shielding away the stars. We could see some light beyond a faraway mountain. ‘It’s the city lights from Mussorie,’ Mani told us. Although there was no electricity here in the Goat Village, the moonlight was lighting up the entire area, everything distinctly visible. We carried a solar torch for emergency use and retired for the night.
‘Where are you from and how long have you been here?’ I had asked Mani at some point.
‘I am from Jammu and have been here for about 4-5 months now’, he had said.
‘What are your plans?’
‘Right now I am at peace here. I love the simple way of life and wish to continue this for some time.’
‘How old are you?’
I was speechless and didn’t suppress my surprise. This was a guy, just about my age, leading such a simple but well thought of life, rendering service to the society and the environment in his own way. Wow!
The next morning we were headed for the Nag Tibba trek along with Mani and Elita. It was a long and arduous trek where we got lost in the jungle. But that’s a story for another day. (Read here: When we got lost in Himalayan Forests- The Nag Tibba Trek)
There is very limited mobile network in the area and with limited solar panels powering the place, better save your batteries for photography because there is ample opportunity for that. Post the trek that evening after an early dinner, we went to a real mud house near TGV and lit a fire with wood. Mani prepared Chamomile tea from freshly plucked flowers. It doesn’t have any taste but has great medical properties, Mani informed us. I had never heard of it, nor seen tea made from flowers before. In the age where everyone’s moving away from the village life, there we were city-dwellers sitting and enjoying the authentic village life probably for the first time in life.
The trip had been about a lot of firsts and unique things. Take the food, for example. Each meal had something special and unique. We had mandwa-roti sandwich with sprouts for breakfast one day. Another day the dinner had jungli-karela (bittergourd) that wasn’t bitter at all. We had lemon grass tea and mint tea. And all of it was grown in the village itself. (They don’t serve non-vegeterian food, but it can be arranged for on request)
On the final morning, we woke up quite early and were lucky to find a thin layer of white frost on the grass outside. We packed and got ready. After a breakfast of mooli-parathas with freshly plucked moolis from the farm, we were on our way back, bidding adieu to the amazing people at The Goat Village who had served us so happily for the last three days. I couldn’t leave without clicking a final group picture with the entire staff of course!
|From left- Me, Birender Pawar, Priyanka, Manbir, Manita, Amrit, Vinod and Kamal (Chefs), Suraj and Mani|
The Goat Village, Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand, November 2016
I was invited for a stay at The Goat Village, Nag Tibba in November 2016. All views and opinions in the post are completely personal. You can read more about The Green People, The Goat Village and the Bakri Chhap products.