Sitting by the fire in the kitchen I tell my hosts, I can’t remember when it was last I didn’t eat anything out of a packet for so many days in a row! Kareri is a sleepy little village in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. I was incredibly lucky to do a homestay at Kareri Village. It was cold in January but people in the hills know how to keep warm in these freezing months.
The original idea was to trek up to the Kareri Lake but due to a lot of snow on the route, the trek was abandoned immediately. I simply stayed at home and took walks around the village when the weather permitted it. It rained on one day, it snowed on another, on other two days I felt too lazy. So, in reality I did only one day hike around the village.
Mostly I sat by the fire in the kitchen and read Agatha Christie novels on Nook, finishing on an average one in a day! As Seshadri and Chhavi have stayed here before, the matter of my identity was simple. If anyone asked who I was, the standard reply was Chhavi ki Mummy (Chhavi’s mom)!
The day I arrived due to the avomine induced drowsiness, I went to sleep and refused to go out even for a walk in the evening. Kareri has phone connectivity. My host’s (Kamlesh and Family) home is slightly downhill, But we used to go up to what I christened ‘internet hill’ where I would get high speed internet connection but it was not reliable. But as it is Himachal Pradesh, electricity supply is like dream. There is no shortage of water as well! Only schools, roads and hospitals come by with a little more difficulty. There is a kaccha road to the village now. I was able to take a vehicle both ways.
I would wake up leisurely everyday and run to the kitchen to get get some hot water to brush my teeth. They do have a gas connection but they cook on wood as well. A big pot of water would almost always be on the wood fire. The chores of the day done, I would sit by the fire and wait for a cup of tea. Soon it would be time for breakfast. After that if it was a sunny day I would sit out and read a book, if not I would do the same by the fire. Thus at slow pace the life would go on.
There were numerous birds that could vie for my attention along with the book. The mustard flowers were in bloom, painting the village pretty. If the weather was good I would go out for a walk in the evening but the view of the hills eluded me till the last morning. When I was leaving, it was of course blue skies!
The family consists of three brothers- Ravi, Kamlesh and Suresh and one sister Anu. Chhavi is a great fan of Anu. I met Ravi, Kamlesh, Anu and their parents. Both Ravi and Suresh work in the tourism industry with Suresh currently working in Goa. Ravi is living in McLeod Ganj though his wife Vandana lives at Kareri. Kamlesh looks after the home, horses, mules and fields. Their parents also live in the same two storied house which has at least 10 rooms! Auntie can still lift so much load and carry it to the fields! They treated me like a princess! So, the next time you see a person handling mules, remember they live in 10 bedroom homes!
As my holidays drew to an end I realized that I didn’t spend a single rupee (other than paying at the end of my stay) as I could see no shops in the village! I was told there was a shop but as it was winters, the supplies were low! It was an amazing experience where two things stood out, I never ate anything out of a packet and I never went to a shop for six days!
If you wish to do a homestay at Kareri village with Kamlesh and Family you could call Kamlesh at +919736246820 or Ravi at +919805934718 They usually charge 1200 rupees per person per night which includes food as well.
The nearest big town is Dharamshala. I took a taxi from Dharamshala to Kareri which cost me 1500 rupees. I had to walk a bit from the road head to the house. There is public transport up to a village called Gera.
As I was new to the region and as I was thinking of trekking, I went with my long time trekking guide Sohan Singh Bisht (his number is +919410365281). However, if I go to the village again I am confident of going alone now.