Since I wanted to experience a peaceful getaway from the city lights of Delhi, and get away from all of the materialism of social media, I decided to visit a village in Uttarakhand. I chose Raithal, while searching on the internet about the next village I should explore in the adobe land of Uttarakhand, and after reading a lot of positive responses from fellow travelers, I couldn’t help myself but visit the place.
It has given me lots of beautiful memories, and I finally got a taste of what slow traveling is about; since I stayed at the village for a significant amount of time.
In the article, I will be talking about my escapade in the village, and especially about the digital detox experience. Although the village is famous for Dayara Bugyal trek base, I will tell you what you can do in the village. And finally give you some of the most important tips on how to reach the village, things to do, best time to visit, where to stay, and some travel tips.
About Raithal Village
Raithal is a scenic village in the adobe land of Uttarakhand, also known as Devbhoomi. It is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and is about 185 km away from the capital city Dehradun. The village is at a height of 1,800m above sea level, and it looks like a scenery withdrawn right from a painting. It is in the Garhwal Region of Uttarakhand, between the peaks of Himalayan ranges and surrounded by meadows all around it.
I also visited Peora Village in Uttarakhand, which is in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is even more offbeat than Raithal. So do give a read about Peora Village.
About locals, their food, culture, and houses
Although 192 families residing in the village, during your stay you will almost get familiar with all of them, and spending right enough time you will be confronted with many interesting stories. Like the stories of bears, leopards, and of their horrifying experience in the metropolitans. So be ready to hear many rants of Delhi, Bombay or even Dehradun. The locals are very cheerful and honest people, especially towards the outsiders, and they will help you out during any difficulty.
Most of the houses in the village have a courtyard for their livestock like buffaloes, goats, and cows. The families sustain themselves through their farmlands where they grow their own vegetables like Potato, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Cucumber, and many more. These farmlands surround most of the land area in and around the village, with giant terrace farmings of wheat for the whole village.
The unity of the village is as such that if anyone farmland gets destroyed by Wild Boar or cattle, the whole village accompanies them and arrange food for them to accompany the loss in the farmlands.
There is a local temple where the gods and goddesses reside, which villagers worship. I was lucky enough to attend a local ceremony in which a flower gets dropped by their god and whichever village gets chosen by the Gods, they will have to go and present them with holy water in the temple of the chosen village. Local people are very sensitive regarding their traditions and culture, so be aware to respect their practices.
Houses in the village are now concrete, but you will find a beautiful example of the ancient architecture of the village in the form of Panchkura, which is a 5 storey building, built 500 years ago by a single person. You can go inside the whole building and climb its thin ladders to reach the top floor of it.
The digital detox experience
I wasn’t prepared at all for stepping into no connectivity zone. Although I had an idea that the network connectivity is not decent in the village and connections are limited to a small surface area for the different network at different spots. So without any mental preparation, I set my foot in the village, and as soon as I reached, the habit of an opening phone for Instagram and Facebook feeds took over me, but every time it happens there was a sudden disappointment.
During the first day, it was getting a bit uneasy for me, but I went through it. But as soon as the 2nd day started, I decided to keep my phone away from me and explore the village. This was followed by a series of interesting stories, and I got to know so many things about the villages and locals. I even went out with locals and their cattle for grazing in the hidden meadows and saw bones of cows left by Bears and Leapords.
I read, talked, ate, meditate, slept, walked, and talked even more, during the non-digital time of my trip. But I learned very quickly how this experience made me more connected to the place I visited, I was feeling a part of it by my 3rd day. Started getting chai served by random people with a graceful smile on their faces. I sat beside the random path and read a book for a few hours, while getting some of the most precious time for myself.
It was probably one of my best experiences on any trip, and my fear of disconnection was gone. I felt relieved and calm after the trip, although the nights were a bit lonelier but quickly the mind adapted to it. I will recommend everyone to have an experience of the digital detox, even for a weekend, you might probably discover something about yourself that you don’t know.
The mind was floating,
the days were passing,
Oh my love, the stories were never ending.
Things to do in Raithal village
At first glance, the village might look like a dull destination, but slowly you learn more about it, and discover many things you can do in and around the village.
1. Indulge in Local activities
Farming, cooking, walk with cows for grazing, and many other local activities, which will be viable for you to do, you can indulge in all of them. The local people will be a little contagious towards your participation because they fear you might get harm by this, but insist once or twice and they are happy bunny along with you.
2. Visit nearby villages
You can visit the nearby villages of Natin, Dwari and Gwari, which are all located on one road only. Gwari being the farthest of them, 6 km away. Although I didn’t went to any of them because of the culmination of laziness and my overwhelming interest Raithal village. But my homestay owner insisted on me to visit the nearby villages at least once.
3. A day hike to Dayara Bugyal
A dangerous choice, but if you are fit enough, according to locals you can complete the trek in one day and return by late evening. Accompany yourself with a local and visit Dayara Bugyal, villagers call it a heaven for them and their livestock. So it must be a beautiful site to be held. But a good 2-3 day camping in Dayara is an experience of a lifetime. The trek was an important source of money for the locals, but since India Hikes had set up their bases in the village, the flow of money has reduced in local people. Thus if you are going for the trek then try to accompany local people as your guides and potters, because locals know the best of their surroundings, and will show you the best of what scenery has to offer. So for the best experience choose the locals, but if you are little contagious towards the choice then IndiaHikes is a viable option for you.
4. Have a chai with local!
I am not kidding, but this is probably the best thing to do in the village. A cup of chai with local will make your day, since it will go on for many hours and you will learn so many things about them, their families, and their views regarding the life in mountains and cities. This was my best time pass in the village, and I carried tons of stories with me from the place.
5. Visit Gangotri
Villagers fantasize about the place and insist everyone to visit. It is only 60 km away from the village and if you are a believer in god then do visit the place. The river Ganga can be seen from the top of Raithal, flowing deep in the Garhwal ranges, cutting its way towards all over India.
6. Read your books
You will find this silly, but actually, Raithal will be the perfect place to have a go at one of your favorite books. So don’t forget to carry one with you.
7. Relax and Rejuvenate yourself
Locals have a saying there, that “Insaan khud ko dhund leta hai, inn Pahadon mein kho ke”, which means that you find yourself when you are lost in these mountains. Thus when visiting Raithal expect yourself to be rejuvenated, and finding something you never discovered. Hear yourself out and soak in the magic of surreal breeze of the mountains.
How to reach Raithal village
There are several ways to reach Raithal Village depending on your budget. But I will tell you the way most viable option which will accommodate most peoples budget. The route will be from Delhi since I visited from Delhi only.
From Delhi take a bus/train/cab/taxi till Dehradun, all of the options differs through its time and rate. You will reach the fastest through cab/taxi under 4-5 hours, and it may cost you around 600-900. Another cheaper option is the bus which also takes around 6-7 hours to reach Dehradun and costs around 420-600. The last option is with the train which will cost you the cheapest for about Rs 120-Rs 200 for non a/c chair car.
From Dehradun take a bus till Uttarkashi, the government bus leaves around 5:30 in the morning, it costs 220 till Uttarkashi. If you won’t catch the early morning bus then another bus leaves around 8 and 9, costing you same and will drop you Uttarkashi under 4-5 hours.
From Uttarkashi, you can directly hire a taxi till Raithal village which will cost you approximately 800-1200, but let me tell you a cheaper option. Take a shared taxi till Bhatwari which cost around Rs70. From Bhatwari, Raithal is only 10 km upwards, so if you reach by evening then there are again shared taxi till Raithal which cost about Rs 30. If you reach before evening then either you can wait or hire a taxi till Raithal. Don’t forget to take your camera out on Bhatwari-Raithal road, since the road journey is absolutely breathtaking with wheat fields all around the road.
hire a taxi till Raithal. Don’t forget to take your camera out on Bhatwari-Raithal road, since the road journey is absolutely breathtaking with wheat fields all around the road.
So your route is Delhi-Dehradun-Uttarkashi-Bhatwari-Raithal Village. Total time taken will anything around 13-19 hours and the total cost can be anything around 500-2000 depending upon your interest.
Where to stay in Raithal Village
There are 7 homestays in Raithal Village costing you Rs 600-800 per night including food and snacks. Mind you the home-stays run a strict policy that they will only serve what they are making for themselves, nothing special can be demanded until they ask.
I stayed in one of the homestays, the owner name was Ravinder, he was very helpful and called me until I reached in Delhi, treated me like his own son. The food he serves is amazing and you can feel the purity in the vegetables since they grow them at their own farms. The room was very clean and provided with hot water service. A real authentic experience of a lifetime is provided in the homestays, so I do recommend staying in these places.
Ravinder Homestay Number: 09639582343. Call him for any query regarding cabs from Uttarkashi/BHatwari or if you want to arrange treks and camping till Dayara Bugyal. He will do all the arrangements prior to your arrival.
There is a GMVN guest house in Raithal Village, availability of room here is a little dicey and I don’t know the process of it. But right beside GMVN guest house, there is Guesthouse run by local Zila Panchayat, which had beautiful rooms with all the services for a comfortable stay. Not I will recommend it but if you want to stay at the guest house then options are available.
Zila panchayat Guest House Number: 09927494364
Best time to visit
Raithal village is a good destination for both winters and summer. During winters, the whole village is covered in thick snowfall like a white sheet over the top of complete village. The winter season for snowfall starts from December Mid till March end.
In summer/after winter season you can visit Raithal for its green beauty, the beautiful farms surrounding the village is a sight to behold and you can easily trek to Dayara Bugyal during the summer period. The temperature is not that high and sun is soothing rather than a melting volcano on your head.
Another good opportunity to visit Raithal is during the butter festival, when the whole village goes to Dayara Bugyal and play Holi with Butter at 3000m above the sea level. There is no permission for trekking on that day and food is arranged by locals only for all of the visors. It is a day of joy and fulfillment for the villagers all around the area and something up to 2,000 people visit Dayara on that day. The date for 2019 Butter Festival is 16th August.
Why one should visit Raithal at least once
Raithal village is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit for a long weekend trip. The place is graced with absolutely adorable people where you can’t help but talk to them for hours and hours. The village is sustainable in their practices and almost all of the families are dependent on farming and their livestock. A real peaceful getaway with the right level of connectivity from the outside world, where you can relax and rejuvenate yourself. Its green fields and mythological stories are enough to entertain you during your trip here. There will be definitely something to take away from your trip to Raithal Village as well.
Book one of the most popular home-stay of Raithal, Raithal Homestay.
You can also check out my post on Rasol, which is another offbeat place in the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
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