Sethan – Last village in Hamta Valley
Sethan, a hamlet located in Hamta Valley at an elevation of 14000ft.
After completing my first solo trip, I had discovered passion for travelling within me. Not just travelling but bringing out the beauty of untouched nature to most of you.
My short itinerary for a 1N2D trip to Sethan(Hidden Paradise):
I started my journey to Manali from Delhi at 6:40 in morning. It may sound little funny and more crazy to you that despite having well connected luxury(AC/Non-AC Volvo) buses between Delhi and Manali, I chose to travel in ordinary HRTC bus which costed me ₹600-650. It took me almost 17 hours to reach Manali. (since bus was late by 2.5 hours due to terrible traffic near Mohali).
Yes, a better idea would be taking an overnight luxury bus from Delhi to Manali but I chose to travel as raw as possible(though considering traffic in daytime, taking morning bus was a bad decision).
I reached Manali at 12’o clock midnight. From Manali shared taxi to Sethan for₹200-300 are available or you can book it completely for ₹1200 (₹1000, if you are good at bargaining). Since I was alone I had no choice but to book full taxi provided it was already midnight(managed to bargain for ₹1000). It took me 45 minutes approximately to reach Sethan. I stayed in a homestay called Himayalan Lounge. They charge ₹1200 for a room so if you are a group of 4-5 friends then you can get it for as low as 200/night per person (including delicious food, unlimited coffee/tea and warm stay).
I woke up at 9am and as I moved the curtain of my window, the first thing which happened to me was those snow capped mountains.
After spending some time enjoying the scenic view of Pir Panjal Range and playing with Caesar (my cute companion), I decided to visit the village to learn about how difficult or easy life can be when village remains detached to day-to-day transportation for 2 months due to snow.
Interaction with villagers :
I visited Sethan in late April , by that time snow on the lower areas had already melted but the best part was I could see villagers cultivating their crops on the upper terrains. I decided to interact with them and to my surprise they told me that they don’t cultivate (rajma) for earnings but for their self consumption since during the months of snow it’s not possible to travel to lower regions and get ration. Excited to learn that I am an engineer they complained me about bad connectivity of mobile networks and asked me favour if I could do something about it. I smiled and replied ‘Not having mobile network makes this place better than city life’. They loved my idea and replied with absolute dignity ‘Yes, our place is very peaceful and safe.’ One of them asked me if I would visit them again. I replied , ‘Definitely, will celebrate my birthday in your village.’
From village, I trekked to one of the base camps for Hamta Pass trek. Walk from here can be a little steep. Roads are not very narrow and are in good condition, so you can go by your own vehicle also. But I would suggest to give yourself a little time and walk these paths as they take you through one of the most beautiful journeys!
Incident to never forget :
On reaching this location (base for Hamta Pass trekk), I saw no one but a young boy sitting in not so good looking tent. After interacting with him, I got to know he was a Shepherd and was waiting for his father who went to a much higher terrain with their flock of sheep for feeding.
I spent some time learning about life of a Shepherd. He told us that he and his father stay in this tent for 2-3 months(shifting locations as per the weather) looking after their sheep. And once the sheep grow mature they sell them for wool or meat. This money they send to their family (staying in lower regions) for well being. I was touched to see how one could manage to live in an area disconnected from daily life.
Our visit made him really happy and he prepared tea for us from whatever little milk(Goat) he had. I refused to have tea , feeling sad about there wont be any milk left if he used it for tea. He said, ‘You are our guest and we would serve you with whatever best we can’. His gesture made me feel very pity about the life we have been living in cities with all best facilities and still not being able to help one in need.
As I finished my tea, his father joined and was extremely delighted to see us. Learning about the fact that his son had prepared tea for us and there was no tea or milk left for him, he said ‘Whatever little we have in our life, it is meant to be shared with others’. Again, a realisation for ‘a girl from city’! He wanting to cherish this moment, shared his ‘Hukkah’ with me.
After this amazing experience, I head back to my lodge. And as I told, you get tasty food here whenever hungry, my host prepared me delicious Maggi and Coffee for the evening!
Day 2 –
I started my day by visiting a camp nearby. You can choose to stay here also if you are looking for camping experience. This camp provides scenic view of Pir Panjal Range.
As I had to catch evening bus to Delhi from Manali, I left from Sethan to Manali to visit famous Hidimba Devi Temple (you would have seen in Bollywood movies like Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani). This temple is nearly 3kms from main market. Cedar forest hides Hidimba Temple from nearby spots.
I returned to Delhi taking an overnight bus(ordinary HRTC) which costed me ₹600 approximately. This trip costed me a total of 5k (including all the expenses possible). And for all those girls wondering if India is safe to travel alone!! Believe me, you just need to step out with Confidence!