Kalap is a village lying forgotten in time in the upper Garhwal region of the northern state of Uttarakhand in India. Situated at an altitude of 7,800 ft, the village is nestled among virgin pine and deodar forests, and overlooks the gorge cut open by the roaring River Supin. Kalap is home to traditional Garhwali architecture and its surroundings offer stunning natural beauty, including views of the snow-capped Bandarpunch range.
It is also a land of legends. The entire Tons river valley is considered to be the birthplace of the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit mythological epic. The two protagonists in the epic, the Pandava and Kaurava brothers, are said to have descended from this very valley, and the people living here still claim to trace their lineage to one of the two clans. Not being connected to a road head and far from the major trekking trails in Uttarakhand, Kalap has remained untouched by mainstream tourism.
Life is harsh at Kalap. Agriculture is the primary occupation at Kalap, with its terraced fields home to wheat, millets, potatoes and beans. The growing season is short between May and October. The next biggest occupation is rearing sheep and goats. Winters witness heavy snowfall, with the village recording upto 3-5 feet of snow.
But within this harshness is the beauty of Kalap. The harsh locale and its enforced lifestyle, gives one a chance to explore a path that is well and truly connected to the essence of life. The community still adheres to a lifestyle that is minimalist and sustainable. The trekking trails in this region follow paths well-trodden by seasonal nomadic herders but unexplored by any outsider. Be prepared to be humbled by the stunning vistas on offer, be overwhelmed by the jungle alive with scents of pine, deodar and wild lavender, and take a dip in a sparkling mountain torrent.
The people of Kalap will welcome you with the hospitality synonymous with hill people. They will share their stories with you and you will find that there is plenty to explore and discover among the community's legends and folklore. You will surely go back home with more than a little bit of Kalap in you!
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10 REASONS TO TRAVEL WITH US:
Sandor Katz, author (www.wildfermentation.com) and
one of the world's foremost experts on permaculture.
The village of Kalap has been developed as a sustainable eco-tourism destination by Tons Trails (www.tons.travel), a social enterprise working with the communities of the Tons Valley since 2013 to economically empower them through tourism.
In line with Tons Trails' community responsibility charter, 25% of profits are contributed towards supporting projects by Kalap Trust (www.kalaptrust.org), which provide access to free education and healthcare services to the people of the Tons Valley.