A Glimpse Into God’s Own Land

Among the hills nurturing Deodar trees and the valleys with overflowing rivers sits a hamlet in its serenity, singing ballads of purity, joy and brotherhood. With a skimpy population of 160, this place sits atop the mighty mountains between gorgeous Beas and beautiful Sutlej in what is known as the Dev Bhumi (The Land of Gods) Himachal.

The thriving Pine Trees

The little town of Barnog in the district of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh wakes up before the cuckooing of birds. Even before the first ray of sun hits the hilly top the preparation for the day starts in all its might. With burning wood to prepare the food and the sound of cows munching on the hay the start of the day is as good as it gets. There are no gyms, it is still a word that hasn't reached these innocent villagers but there is no obesity either.

Food being prepared on the hearth

A day of hard work at the orchards and fields surrounding the entire valley keeps their core fit and their hearts healthy. At night when the dusk hits, the entire family gets around a chimney, cooking rotis on the hearth. With the hot food conversation is exchanged before everyone takes an early leave and retires for the night.

From the town hails Lovely, a 12 year old who gets up at 4 in the morning and helps her mother prepare food before getting ready to hike towards her school, located around 5 kilometers downhill and the only mode of transport — Walking.

In these parts where technology has not yet laid its branches, education is mandatory per the state rules. Even though the journey is no less than a marathon, rather more difficult, owing to the curvy roads and steep valleys, the kids traverse it with an unbelievable rigor and fun filled games to pass the long journey. The villagers have now prepared a Mule Track of 5 KMs that runs along the side of the village to help the kids. In addition to allocation from government, this was achieved by self-reliant attitude and hard physical work of the residents.

While the houses are being prepared for the start of the day the kids leave their homes to study. While the villages in India are often stereotyped with marring the education, Barnog has never seen a kid being devoid of education since last four decades.

It is owing to the stringent education system that the literacy rate in this small village has been 100% since the last 40 years or so.

It is not only till primary level that this tradition continues, rather this village has been the birth place of half a dozen Engineers, apart from Academicians, Holders of Doctorate in various fields and Soldiers. In a population of a few hundreds, these numbers are above par.

With limited resources the inhabitants of Barnog have reached far greater heights than fathomable. The minuscule population has not stopped them from conquering four corners of the world, for the residents have gone and settled in places like USA, UK, Singapore and China. They might have left their nests but their roots still lie in the small picturesque village. They might be emigrants but they come back perennially to visit their families from across seven seas. It is no easy task to live away from your loved ones but these villagers have achieved far greater height academically than imaginable by undergoing a weary time that only made them stronger and successful.

Walking in itself is a pleasure in these parts, with leaves scrunching below your feet and Deodar Cones lined up on the surface you don’t need social network to glimpse magnificence.

The landscape is welcoming and the people are friendlier. Their nods a greater pleasure than a thousand likes on social network.

In an era when hot and cold water is available at a touch’s disposal it is hard to imagine the people of this town surviving by filling up water tanks manually and carrying large buckets of hot water across multiple stories of their homes just to get enough hot water to take bath in freezing cold or for even the primal task of washing hands. While they have managed to build the basic sanitation necessities around them and have evolved from the open toilets under the sun to the Brick made lavatories, there is much that still needs to be done.

Most of the people in the village survive on the agriculture produce of their farm which have to be carried down to the neighboring towns for selling. With the lack of a road the traders who act as the middle-men in the transaction take away a large share of profit leaving the farmers an equivalence of nothing for their annual produce. The produce is often hammered by hail storms and late snows that frequent these parts of mountains. Due to the hardships many are flocking out from their areas and settling in nearby towns with better facilities and connectivity. The beautiful scenery and the virgin mountains hold a cultural heritage that seems to be dwindling due to the adverse and harsh living conditions.

Handmade shoes made with wool and jute

Much needs to be done to preserve these parts from modern expedition and preserve the beauty without uprooting the values it holds. Indulged in my own world of technology I had been surprised to find people surviving without being aware of such thing as Technology or Internet and being content with their lives.