People Of Kumaon

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In Oct 2012 did the Kumaon Yatra. Took a conscious decision to click pictures of local people. Present the pics in the route as I travelled. Covered children, women, work done by NGOs, BPOs etc. The first pic is of school children, taken at about 7.30am. They were on their way to school somewhere on the drive between Kathgodam and Mayavati Ashram.

You see pic of Ramesh Chandra Suthedi at Dharamgarh, Mayavati Ashram. At this spot Swami Vivekanand mediated so the Ashram made a small enclosure there. Devotees also meditate here. U see Ramesh inside the enclosure. Inspite of never having clicked a picture he took a good pic of me in the same place. He works in the Ashram and was our Guide for the trek to Dharamgarh.

Pic of school children at Champavat. We were searching for the Ghatotkach Mandir when I saw these children. School had just got over, they were in a hurry to go home. It took some effort to make them stay back even if it were only for a minute.

We met this old lady on the drive from Lohaghat to Mayavati Ashram. She cuts grass, sells it to make ends meet. Was very happy to be clicked. Later on told us that she was all alone in this world, how she struggled to survive.

This pic in Pithoragarh. Was trekking from base point to Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple when saw these cute boys with their grandfather. They had just returned from school. Number of small villages during the one hour trek.

Enroute on the same trek saw these toddlers. Lovely complexion and rosy cheeks. Man on left of pic very helpful.

Local women buy food stuffs and provisions from town and carry home like this. Townies might find it difficult but saw them doing it quite effortlessly.

In Pithoragarh met these girls returning from school. They called me Mr India. The one of with the flower is Mamta. She gave me the flower after I clicked the pic. The one on extreme left of has a great smile and was full of life. Unlike the married women I met there, who did not want to be clicked, these kids were very sporting.

From Pithoragarh went to Dharchula enroute to Narayan Ashram. In the Dharchula market clicked this pic. Man advising client to wear a particular type of ring to help control his temper.

I was walking thru the Dharchula market looking for school going kids when I saw these lovely kids. The one on the right is such a sweetheart. See how school tie is tied. Reminded me of my school days. Super complexion. Rate this as the best pic in this collection. Let me know what you think.

Enroute from Dharchula to Narayan Ashram along the road to Tawaghat is Tapovan famous for Taptkund. Where the walk to Taptkund starts is a shop owned by Prem Vallabh Bhatt whom you see in this picture. He is concerned about loss of cultural values in Uttaranchal or Devi Bhoomi as he called it. In the name of development and progress local traditions and culture were being lost.

Enroute from Tawaghat to Narayan Ashram. Local women cut grass and take it home. You see a women loading grass on her back. My driver said it weighed about 70 kgs. Am not sure but looked very heavy.

In Raniket area women carry the grass on their heads unlike Tawaghat area where grass is carried on the back.

Local watchman on the way to Narayan Ashram.

Enroute to Narayan Ashram shepherd. Driver said he is Nepali. The Indo Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950 allows Nepalis easy entry into India. He was very happy to be clicked.

At Narayan Ashram that was founded by Narayan Swami in about 1940. Right to left you see Manager Ranaji, his wife and the lady who cooks for all. Structure that you see behind them is where the present Swami resides when he visits the Ashram (height 2734 metres). All of them have lovely complexion and skin.

Enroute from Narayan Ashram to Munisayari met with Granddad whilst we stopped at a tea shop. Happily posed. Looks very content and relaxed.

About 12 kms before Munisayari the road was blocked since an oil tanker blocked road. We decided to walk to Munisayari. Somewhere in between met these children who, during their school holidays, had come visiting their Nana (maternal grandfather) home. The house that you see behind is one part of their home. So happy and content. Had just finished collecting cowdung so wanted to wash up well before being clicked.

Again on the same route met these ladies. I told the young girl that they lived is Heaven, we in Mumbai are living in hell. She said because this was place was so good they were so happy, had no complaints. The happiness and positive attitude touched me.

We were walking in Munisayari when met these young girls and mother. Second girl left to right agreed to have group clicked provided I promised to send her the pic which I will. Two girls in the centre were very confident and outgoing. Overall I found the younger lot in Kumaon very confident.

7 kms before Munisayari is a village called Darkot. It is famous for woollen products. Here ladies make shawls, angora caps, pull-overs etc. U see Smt Gangadevi Matholia, her three daughter-in-laws wearing the products made by them.Theirs is the first home as you enter the village. House buzzes with energy n children. To buy call 91 9410182855. Photo collection titled Woollens Munisayari has more pics on the villagers and their products.

About one hour before Chakori is an NGO called AVANI. (www.avani-kumaon.org). It is involved in Renewable Energy, Water Management, Textiles, Farm-based activities. See their site detailed info. U see one of the ladies who works in the loom with her child.

Pic in Chakori. When I told the old lady that wanted to click she said am so old, no teeth why do u want to click me. Whilst she was saying this clapped her hands together and laughed - that is the time I clicked. Asked her grandchildren to walk out of the window and stand on chajja of their first floor home.

Pic in Chakori. As I was speaking with the old lady a group of young boys requested me to click them. We walked on to the main road. As I was getting ready to click their pet dog walked into the pic as if to say how can you leave me out.

Pic in Kausani. This pic is of Bengali and not Kumaon people. Saw Bengalis were all over Kumaon during my trip. Hotel names and menus are in Bengali. One restaurant owner went so far to say that if Bengalis stopped travelling Uttaranchal people would face an economic crisis. Admire the spirit and desire to travel.

Pic in Bageshwar. Local women all dressed up for Durga Puja festival. We are covering Puja celebrations through a separate photo collection.

Pic during drive from Kausani to Dunagiri. Local women going to collect farm produce. There were about 12 of them, refused to pose for a pic. The last few agreed though, would not pose said click as is or we go.

Pic in Pandukholi. 5kms from Dunagiri is where the trek to Pandukholi starts. U trek another 4-5 kms to reach Pandukholi. The Pandavas spent part of the 14th year of exile here. A small ashram exists today. U see Swami Maharaj with wife and daughter. It is run by the Balwant Giri Ashram Sewa Samiti. Photo collection of Dunagiri - Pandukholi covered separately.

On returning from my trek to Pandukholi/Bhatkot you see me with Chandan Singh (if I remember correctly) and part time driver Kailash Singh. Chandan runs a small restaurent which serves lovely Maggi noodles. He has a super garden with lots of flowers which attracts butterflies galore.

Close to the restaurant in Dunagiri is a Joshi Guest House. Just there clicked this. Note the style of wearing sarees and complexion. In pic, the hill that you see behind is where Mahavatar Babaji cave is Photos of Babaji cave covered separately.

U see pic of Jeevan Singh manager of Royal Mountain hotel. Minutes after the Golf Course in Raniket u find this hotel on your left. Spacious rooms, good food and importantly a great view of the Himalayan peaks. Jeevan Singh takes real good care of guests.

Pic of Indiraji and Basantiji in UMANG. This is a network of hill women who run an NGO by the name Mahila Umang Producers Company Ltd. It is on the Raniket Almora road about 20 minutes drive from golf course. Modern showroom that sells a variety of well designed woollen products, jams, spices, pickles etc. Both the ladies are showcasing some of the products sold. To know more click here.

Pic in Jageshwar Jyotirling ie near Almora. Girl on left was pic was making a small paste of chandan and applying on matha (forhead) of every devotee who entered the temple. One on the right was very shy and just hovering around the temple entrance. Took some effort to get the little cute girl to pose.

Pic in NGO Aarohi. (www.aarohi.org). They are involved in health, education, livelihood, natural resource mgmt etc. Is about 2 hours drive from Almora or about an hour from Mukteshwar. U see children rehearsing for a dance program. They run a school, hospital that has OPD, Operation Theatre, Dental Chair etc (very impressed by hospital), produce some super products like apricot soap/oil, herbal products, peppermint tea check out the site.

This group of youngsters work for a BPO promoted by an NGO CHIRAG (www.chirag.org) and Others. It is called B2R Technologies or Business to Rural. Started in Sept 2009. In Oct 12 employs about 250 people. Work mainly in the Publishing Domain. Provide calling services, outbound calls, XML coding amongst others. Was very impressed by the unit I visited.

CHIRAG also produces woollens in association with local women. Groups of women, as you can see, meet every week where work done during the previous week is reviewed, guidance given and wool given to them for products to be knit in the coming week. U see women knitting and exchanging notes.

In Nainital I trekked to Naini Peak. On the way down lost my way and walked into this village. Met this pretty woman who had come to fill drinking water from one of the natural sources here. Her complexion, nature and features had me bowled over. She had been to Mumbai but said we love the hills, cannot imagine living anywhere else.

As I was trying to find my way walked into another village where met these lovely boys. One of them walked fifteen minutes with me and showed me the way to Nainital.

Young men sitting on the banks of the lake in Nainital. Again very happy and content.

I was walking down the MALL road in Nainital wondering whom could I click to end the People of Kumaon Collection when I saw this elderly couple. His name is Raja Mohan Das Shah, a respected and senior Advocate. When I asked how the surname Shah he said that their ancestors were Gujaratis who migrated to Kumaon centuries ago. Do mail us how you enjoyed this photo collection along with any suggestions that you may have.