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Syalna: An untouched village in Uttarakhand

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

'India lives in her seven hundred thousand villages'

- Mahatma Gandhi

Dear All, Greetings from Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, India. I just returned after teaching in the Teachers Training Course in Netala, Uttarkashi and what I’m about to share is what I consider as a meaningful holiday and a truly touching experience I had ever given to myself.  Coming from Uttarakhand, if you are expecting stories of char dham pilgrimage, or miracles of a Himalayan sadhu or a mystical experience on seeing the Ganges....sorry it is nothing of that sort. It is about Syalna, a scenic village where I had an opportunity to spend 3 days.   It is gratifying to know that in this 2019 there are regions still untouched by selfish mankind and it’s commercial modernity. Syalna is one such virgin silently featuring ancient stone-wood cottages, clean water, fresh air, Himalayan majesty and warm welcoming smiles. Heaven does exist...on earth itself.  I’m still spell bound by the people of this village. Very very very hardworking. Without any complaints even the much older women and men quietly live through a back breaking routine from dawn to dusk. Their staircases are narrow without rails. Yet they would walk up and down ‘n’ number of times. Most of their rooms are barely lit. Yet they effortlessly find whatever they are looking for. Proprioception at its best. The size of the broom is a proof of their fit-o-fit spine. No villager has a ponch. No flab. No fat. Weight trainers wouldn’t handle what these people could casually carry on their backs. Athletes wouldn’t cope up with their hiking pace. 

Children are cute, curious and charming. Beware! They would touch your feet out of the blue just to say a simple namaste.

And the youth?!? They are not seen much as most of them are employed elsewhere to back their families.

Agriculture is heart beat here. Note the handcrafted architecture of their grains store house which I first mistook to be a temple! I’m told it is a mark of their reverence to the fields and farming. 

The fooood!!! Dark soft wood fired wheat phulkas, hot hot red rice and rajma gravy served with generous dollops of happy cow’s ghee ....all truly farm fresh. After tasting this rich pranic food, the so called urban organic restaurants wouldn’t make any sense anymore. Even their salt (what appears like grated coconut on the pic)

is specially prepared infusing herbs and chillies, a practice I have not seen in any of the 4 South Indian kitchens.

The old couple who hosted us were such a great Jodi! They quietly help each other most times and live a symbiotic marriage. After feeding us and packing us out of the kitchen, the couple would always sit together to dine in privacy . So effortlessly romantic!

I deem it a privilege to be a guest in their home, to closely observe their culture, to sleep in the stone walled bedroom, to eat in their cob kitchen and to be treated like family. I completely owe to Sahil Seth, the man whom we look up to, for his noble initiative in bringing hope and life back to Syalna before it gets abandoned due to lacunaes both financial and facility wise.

I’m recalled of a movie that I watched long ago during school days by director K. Balachander ‘Unnal Mudiyum Thambi’ (meaning ‘You can, brother’) the title inspired from social activist M.S. Udayamurthy, featuring the story of a young man who brings revolutionary

changes in a small village, the role perfectly delivered by actor Kamal Hassan. Sahil’s mission would be the North Indian version of the same. I truly believe that the village Syalna is gifted to have received the attention of such people. 

If life and time permits, just 2 S:

Contact Sahil. Visit Syalna.


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