Have you ever been taken into a different world when someone narrates you about his life? If not, let me try telling you the tale of Tipri, A village in the Northern Himachel Pradesh.
By Gokul Vijayan
The engine of the boat started with a thump. His face seems to be filled with happiness. I was captivated by the beauty of the nature surrounding me across the Chamera Dam reservoir.The dam is situated in the northern Himachel Pradesh with a close proximity to the Jammu Kashmir. The Ravi river flows towards Pakistan through the reservoir. Visitors gets an opportunity to have a motor boat ride during the tourist season.
As the motor boat kept moving more deeper into the reservoir Mr Muneesh Kumar began his narration.
“There you see that mountain!” said he. Yes I replied. That is the village Tipri.
As the boat seem to approach nearer to the village he said. The people of Tipri live a different life. This gave me a curiosity to know more. I asked upon excitement why do you say so?
People over there are so isolated from the mainland because they do not have access to the town via road. The only way of transportation for them is through the boat in which you and I are travelling now.
Adults and school children travel to their workplaces and schools through this boat every morning and evening. The reservoir is approximately 70mtrs depth. Travelling daily across the reservoir puts up risk.
The children sometimes have to walk upto 5Kms a day to reach school.
Don’t they have schools in Tipri? Yes there is an elementary school for classes till 5th grade but most of the time it remains closed due to absence of teachers.
Have you ever imagined how fortunate we are to have our school bus to pick us from the door step of our house?
The most interesting fact that got my attention was the wedding ceremony of the villagers. Have you ever wondered how wedding would like to be in a boat?
Yes, the villagers in Tipri hire boats during the wedding ceremony to bring the Bride or Bridegroom to the village when we on the other hand opt for a BMW or Mercedes-Benz to show luxury, class and pride.
The entire boats would be decorated with beautiful flowers and garlands picked fresh to welcome the Bride/Bridegroom.
Opposite to the village Tipri across the reservoir is another mountain with dense forest in which wild animals like the bears, leopards, deers etc reside.
I was lucky enough to spot a deer that came down to drink water from the reservoir. The scene was beautiful but unfortunately couldn’t click a picture.
They do not have access to proper medical facilities in the village, if at all they need to go to a good hospital they must reach the nearby town in Dalhousie or Chamba approx 15 Kms after waiting for quite a long time for the boat and then a hilly ride on a private rickety bus. Note a 15km ride is much longer since it is a high range.
Every time he kept saying his miseries I kept thinking again and again how fortunate we are? And still not happy! I found some villagers waving there hands at me with a smile on their face. Tourists means income, more income means more food to the family. I could read that on their faces from a far distance. Villages dependent daily on Roti and Dhal Chawal.
I waved them back.As the winter falls by the first week of December. It starts snowing bringing the temperature down to minus degrees. Hey! take a moment and imagine the pictures above filled with snow?! How beautiful it could be. I took a moment to imagine as he kept saying. Tipri and the surroundings of Chamera dam has a different face in winters he said. But poverty strikes then. The boating would not be allowed and hence the income through them stops. Sad.
If a landslide like that happens to Tipri then the entire village would get vanished said he. They could be homeless too. They pray that it would not happen to them. It was huge.
He kept saying the life in Tipri so passionately. He kept asking me ‘Did you like the place? Sir’ a hundred times after every sentence. How on earth could I say I don’t! I loved it so much keeping the miseries apart.It was at the end that he told me that he belonged to Tipri too. He grew up, lived his entire life in Tipri. The government has given him the job as the boat driver.
My half an hour ride came to an end. But I really did not want it to get over. I have no clue where my imaginations went through in this half an hour of time. I imagined a whole different way of life. I thanked him for telling me about Tipri. I said bye with a hope that I will come back once again not just for a transit visit but to stay and experience Tipri for a couple of days.
I made sure that I would write a blog post so that more people would know about Tipri. To let people know that some live in a very different way in a very different parts of our country. Isn’t it true that each travel is an experience?. Yes, it is. As I walked away he kept staring over to the mountains for someone else to come and have a ride.
Thank You so much for reading. Share.
Note: The boating would cost you around Rs 3000 for 10 members but its worth it!