Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Travel and the Bhagirathi Valley: Mukhba

Mukhba is right across the valley from Dharali, and to get to it one needs to cross a suspension bridge (pedestrians and cycles only) and then climb up an easy slope. It is a pretty little village. It is south-facing and high, and so  warmer than chilly Dharali or windy Bagori. Perhaps because of this, in the autumn Mukhba is a glorious blaze of colour.

 There is no obvious treeline, and the pines reach all the way to the top of the ridge. In the more inaccessible areas there are dwarf rhododendrons that show up a dark purple against the grey of the rocks. There are also lovely old deodar groves here, and a walk in the forest along the path that leads east from Mukhba is a pleasure.

As for it's history, Mukhba is the village of the Semwal clan- traditionally the priests of the Ganga temple at Gangotri. In the October, the Goddess comes here to spend the winter and goes back in spring. She is housed in a brand new concrete and marble totally anonymous temple that the villagers are extremely proud of. If you ask nicely though, the priest will open the old temple for you, and this is a joy- all old deodar and brass.

The houses too, are beautiful, and almost entirely deodar. This being a priests village is richer and more tradition-proud than the other villages, and this means that the houses are in relatively good condition. The little houses on stilts are grain-stores, and wonderfully carved.

Mukhba is a beautiful village- richly coloured and textured. It is a photographer's joy in that there are actually very few colours in the landscape, but these are rich and glowing and coordinated. There is the silver-grey of the rocks, tin roofs, rhododendron  and the brown of deodar, soil, wood and horses. And this is gloriously punctuated with the sunny yellow of autumn, marigolds,quilts and the green of conifers, moss and mustard.


nadi said...

a home just to spend the winter in!

and now i bet she says " This new concrete temple is all very well to work in ,
but at night, i'll just retire to the old deodar and brass one"

these goddesses!

chicu said...

and she gets to travel first-class as well..

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