Image – Raman Sharma
Our inhouse army wife, Devangini follows her husband to border posts and quaint town across the country. This time, she is in Lahon in Himachal Pradesh, which straddles the picturesque plateau on the confluence of Beas and Chenab rivers.
Once in a year, I need to get my annual fix of living in an idyllic village where time passes by at snail pace. Fortunately, my relatives live in such an idyllic place in a tiny hamlet called Lahon, near Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. Nestled on a tabletop plateau with the lofty Dhauladhar hills forming a valley around it, this village is typical of those villages found in the Himalayan countryside. Yet, what sets it apart is the meeting of the Beas and Chenab rivers at a small triangle down the plateau.
Image – Source
My favourite pastime in the village includes walking up and down what the villagers refer to as “roadie”. It is a narrow road that circles the Lahon village going to the very edge of the plateau. Once there, you can sit on the edge swinging your legs and enjoying the panoramic view of the entire river confluence and the foothills of the Dhauladhar range faraway. I cherish the view of tiny thatched houses at a distance with the wisps of smoke seeping out their kitchens, surrounded by the fields of lush green bounty. Remote and comfortable – that’s how I would describe the spot. It feels like the edge of the world with everything right under your feet!
This is what sets Lahon apart – unlike most villages in this part of the country, it is set amidst a clearing with a view to die for. The pebble coloured beach along the luxurious confluence of the rivers is truly picturesque. The river bed is filled with rocks and pebbles of all shapes, sizes and hues! Purple, pink, white, green, grey and so many more rocks dot the line and walking along the river bank is an exhilarating experience. The river flows into deep crevasses and passes by a little hillock with a small temple on top. To reach this temple you could adventurously cross the river by jumping over the rocks, or you could safely walk across the newly constructed foot bridge.
Walking down the hillside towards the river, you will be greeted by village women carrying firewood and grass on their heads. Their humble homes are made of two floors with thatched roofs and a quaint balcony; cement and concrete having reached this hamlet in the past decade. The two floors have sitting areas and an open verandah in the front. The top floor is spilt with what they refer to as the ‘bodh’ or the kitchen. Atop this is a loft – ‘taladi’ filled with treasures from the days of yore – hookahs, family pictures, brass utensils, wooden water bearers and tubs!
The kitchen is usually a simple room. It has a mud stove and a fireplace built-in one. The kitchen is not just about cooking – it’s about getting together with friends and family to spend time over endless cups of tea and warm hands in the cold Himachali winter. Here, the dusk arrives sooner due to the hill range covering the village on the western side, making it colder by a few degrees in the evening, only to dip further by night time.
The flora and fauna here are varied. With tiny reptiles and hares in the summer, one can also find that occasional mole or wild boar. Occasional visits by a leopard or a wolf pack scares the locals and they talk about for years. Hunting as a practice of security has been prevalent in the village. Fishing is also a much preferred hobby due to the river’s proximity. This summer, the locals caught a large fish weighing 4 Kg! The delicacies here range from a sweet and sour fish preparation to nine different kinds of dhals for feast nights!
Despite the fun, reaching to Lahon is not an easy affair – although it can turn into a fun excursion depending on your temperament. You need to reach to Pathankot from Delhi before making a slow train journey or the faster bus journey to Palampur. From Palampur, it is another bus journey or a taxi ride down to the village of Lahon. The people here are helpful, warm and usually a fun lot to have around. Make sure you click lots of pictures with the perfunctory Himachali Topi in vivid hues of green and maroon. The hills are definitely alive here, and the soft breeze throughout the day, turning into a more ferocious wind by night, will grip you for a long, long time even after you have bid adieu to your hillside holiday!
This article is part of the ‘Married to the Olive Green!’ series. Devangini vividly narrates her experiences as an army wife in different cantonments across India.