Bardo- A slice of serenity
“The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”- St. Augustine’s message has always influenced my life in a big way. From backpacking solo to being pampered in the most luxurious hotels, life has come a long way. Yet, something seemed amiss until very recently when I decided to visit Uttarakhand.
For most of us, Uttarakhand conjures up images of Ramnagar, Nainital, Bhimtal and the many more tals that have been done to death by most of us. Amidst those beautiful hills and roads that make for the most gorgeous roadtrips, lies Bardo, a small village about 100 kms from the Ranikhet/Nainital junction. Bardo is a 150 year old village that lies between mountains and acres of green farms with the Kosi River that flows in between. Our guide Abhishek, from Mo Journeys told us that most of the inhabitants are ancestral families that hail from the Maharashtra border.
So what’s different about Bardo? Apart from the mesmerising views, Bardo has preserved its Pahadi traditions unlike many other villages in India. Be it in their dressing sense, their food or something as simple as the architecture of their houses. As I walked through the village, I couldn’t help but notice how the doors of each house were painted in the same colours with images of swans, lotuses, peacocks, carved in ‘likhai’ art on each of them. The images are a symbol of prosperity of a family.
The women although shy at first, were excited to pose as I took shots of the traditional Galabandh (the neckpiece), Nathani (the Pahadi nose ring). A typical Pahadi meal consists of rice, bhaat (as dal), potatoes and the special accompaniment, ‘bhaang chutney’. Don’t flinch. This chutney is very carefully prepared after straining the Cannabis (grown locally) and then mixed with lemon and red chillies for the added flavour. As I smacked my plate clean, our guide Abhishek narrated how they still cook their food in the 100 year old iron utensils. Ironically, he is aware that the same utensils are worth much more in a city. I wondered if this is the innocence that is missing in the cities today. We ended the lunch with a Pahadi chai.
As I said my goodbyes, I realized what simple living means. Bardo is a village where people not only share their food with each other with also their joys and sorrows. It is one of those places where people will walk all the way from their house to the base of the village, just to fetch that one packet of milk so that they can make a cup of tea for their guests. It is certainly one of those places that will continue to influence me for a long time.
Getting there: From the Ranikhet/Nainital junction take the road that goes via Bhujan. About 8 kms from Bhujan on the same stretch is Bardo.
Best time to visit: February to May and August-November.
(A firsthand experience shared by one of our clients – Saransh Bhatt)