Far away from the glitz that has become synonymous with travelling these days, a village in Uttarakhand sits basking in a perfectly old-school nonchalance. It goes by the name of Kalap, sitting in the most idyllic settings of Uttarakhand’s Garhwal region. It is set at an altitude of 7800 ft by the side of Rupin river, lost and dancing to its own beats. Deep deodar and pine woods add more to its otherworldly charm. Once here, you can pore over the seldom seen Bandarpunch Peak (6316 m) and some awe-inspiring vistas on all sides.
While the primary occupation in the village is agriculture and the place stays away from most modern notions, you would be thrilled to know that community tourism is a thing here. An NGO in the same name helps the local community at Kalap offer sustainable tourism experience, including homestays, treks and more. It is believed that the people of Kalap are descendants of Pandavas and Kaurava brothers of Hindu epic Mahabharata. In fact, the main temple in Kalap is dedicated to Karna, one of thePandava brothers. Talk to a village local, and you would hear fascinating lores and legends connected to Mahabharata. A festival named the Karna Maharaja Utsav is also celebrated in the region, an epic event in an otherwise sleepy region. January, usually, sees the Pandava Nritya festival at Kalap, and you can definitely plan your trip accordingly.
A regular day at Kalap will have you going on short trails or rolling down the meadows that have thrushes of lavender growing. When here, gorge over all the local food that you can, for it would make for some of the cleanest meals that you might be having in a long time. Some of the must-haves here are papra, gausahu (poppy seeds and jaggery), Himalayan nettle and more. The villagers have also started selling ethnic, mostly woollen clothing, to tourists now, all handmade and something that is not to be found in cities. So yes, if you are over the regular hill stations in the north of India, Kalap is calling and you must pay heed. How to reach Kalap?Kalap is at a distance of around 450 km from Delhi and 210 km from Dehradun, which is also the nearest airport as well as the major city. From Dehradun, you can reach Sankhri, the nearest rail-head from the village. Then on, you need to trek to Kalap via two different routes that take 6 and 4 hours respectively. Porters can be hired for both the routes, provided you make prior arrangements with Kalap NGO. Travellers can also choose from a plethora of packages to make their exploration more planned and fun.