Everybody loves to visit the mountains and stay in the lap of nature. The mighty landscape full of snow-capped mountains, gushing rivers, gorgeous little villages and the warm locals is what makes Himalayas what they are. What makes the whole experience of visiting the mountains more enriching is the warm culture and tradition of locals. Thus, it is important for you to not only see the beauty of the mountains but also try to understand and experience the rich culture of locals .
When I decided to visit Chamba in Himachal, all I wanted was to witness the beauty of the mountains, free my mind from the daily routine and explore the new horizons. That is when I came across the H2O House by NotOnMap- a rustic stay somewhere deep in the mountains in a small village away from the hustle and bustle of touristy crowds. Without thinking twice, I decided to visit this place which was truly rustic and beautiful in all ways – as the pictures said at least.
After travelling for more than 24 hours, from Pune, I reached Pathankot early morning. Soon after having a cup of piping hot tea, I boarded the bus to Chamba. Now, coming to this part of Himachal for the first time was quite exciting and daunting. As I was getting closer, the views started unfolding themselves. Soon after an hour long journey, I finally got down at a small bridge by the name – Baloo Bridge. The roads from Baloo bridge further diverted to small villages.
Fresh smell of piping hot momos hit me as I was waiting to board the final bus to Chamino Village where H2O was located. Having a plate of momos,I boarded the bus finally to the small little village of Chaminoo.
Upon reaching the village , I was stunned to seeing the views that greeted me. A few gorgeous little houses, slow paced local life, kids running around playing , cattles grazing and beautiful views to compliment it all. I walked further a bit to be greeted by two furry dogs jumping at me and giving me a warm welcome. I was mesmerized with the views of the gorgeous wooden houses and a small stair that went all the way upto the river stream. Now, the H2O house is an ancestral property which is more than 150 years old. The moment I entered the house, all I could hear was the sound of the gushing water.
I entered my room to be greeted by some of the most rustic interiors I had ever seen. The room was perfectly decorated with some of the old wooden artifacts, intricate wooden architecture and beautiful curtains. I kept my bags and went out to experience the beauty surrounding the house. After having a cup of tea, I ventured out to explore the river stream. Now, H2O gets its name from having the close proximity to this river stream and also the water that actually flows through the house premises. Sitting near the river stream for a few moments took away all the pain of travelling for more than 36 hours.
Soon after that in the evening, all the arrangements were made for bonfire and I was already ready to sit under a blanket of stars while listening to the stories of locals. A few hours passed by watching the sunset peeking in through the valley lighting up the whole village with its golden light. It is really a privilege to be in a place like H2O House and witness the golden light falling upon the landscape surrounding it. It was about time to light up the bonfire. I pulled in my jacket as it was cold outside and sat comfortably in the outdoor seating area where the bonfire was lighted up. And there I was, sitting out in the wild under a blanket of stars in freezing cold with a bonfire and stories of locals to warm me up. I do not think I will forget that night ever.
Waking up next morning to the sound of gushing water was an experience that I will cherish forever. Freshening up, I got down the dining area where I was served with fresh parathas made from homemade flour- which is again a speciality of H2O house. H2O house has its own Gharat- which is a traditional flour mill totally operating on the flow of water. It was really interesting to see such innovative and age old methods still being used here at H2O house.
It was not time for the village walk, for which I was most excited. Shankhu Bhaiyya- a friendly local happily accompanied me to show me around. Now, Chaminoo is quite a small village with a few houses perched on hills. We started with the walk from H2O houses and went further ahead leading to a landscape full of a beautiful wooden bridge across river and lush greenery all around. Walking further for another 20 minutes from the house, you reach Rafi’s House. Now, Rafi’s House is another beautiful homestay by NotOnMap and has a different story for some another day. We visited Rafi’s House and had a chai to the view of the whole valley. His family was very generous and offered us some snacks as well. After having a nice conversation with his family, we started our journey back through a different route which was full of lush greenery.
Reaching back at H2O house, I decided to spend the remaining day by lazing around. Small kids from the village gathered near the outdoor area for a game of cricket in the evening. And there I was, revisiting my childhood days while sitting in a village far away from my home back in the city. This is what travelling to places does to you. It gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you to grow in every sense. I played a nice game of cricket with the kids, reliving my childhood and had a delicious dinner at night. This was how my second day spent in the H2O house and I was already feeling sad for I had to leave the place next morning.
It is really amazing how a place far away from your home can become your home even before you realize. The next morning, I packed my bags and got ready to leave. Just when I was about the leave, Romeo- the fluffy dog at H2O came to say goodbye.
In the end, H2O House in Chamba truly offers you the scenic beauty along with the chance to interact with locals and live like them. Also, the whole atmosphere of living in a place near the water stream and organic food will revitalize your senses and affect your core in a way you will not even realize.