Finally I was on the way to step foot at the oldest democracy of the world, Malana. It is popular across the world for obvious reasons but not many people know that Malana is arguably the oldest democracy of the world. One of the highest peaks of the state, Deo-Tibba, shadow this village.Even today this village lives in isolation because of its customs and rituals. However, one can find hundreds of foreigners roaming around in the village for ‘obvious reasons’. A lot many movies have been made on this village and foreigners visiting the Parbati Valley often go to this village. Strangely, these villagers do not open up in front of the ‘desis’ and Police.
It was an awesome mountain ride towards Malana from Jarri. There were mountains all around and waterfalls creating musical symphony around me. I was intoxicated; the magic of Malana had started already. Soon I reached at the last point after which vehicles are not allowed to move inside. A huge gate welcoming you to Malana stands there and one has to climb from there to the village.
I parked my bike and started the climb. I was told it was a 4 km climb and it was steep, it took around 2 hours to climb up to the top and then I saw the Hidden village of Malana for first time, it was dream since I don’t remember how many years. It was an incredible feeling.
Life in Malana is mysterious for sure!
There were many kids around playing and running hither-thither. They were all happy and excited to see me. They knew how to pose for a camera and their curious eyes were shining at the idea of being clicked.There I met a guy there named Ramji, a young 23 year old lad, father of a two year old kid. He told me that here in Malana, marriages happen at a very young age. I was surprised to hear those stories of marriages in Malana. For quite some time they treated me as an outsider. Well, I was one so I think that was justified.
Rishi Jagdamani is the deity of the village and it is believed that not even a leaf moves without his permission. I was not supposed to touch anything in the village, which made me think If I was living in 2012 or the stone age. Well, their life, their choices. Such are the colors of life!I had my lunch with Ramji and it was a long discussion about modernization and village culture. The villagers believe that modernization is not doing any good to the village and its culture. However, they do not mind talking to foreigners and selling the ‘obvious stuff’ to them.
Now it was time for me to go back. This time I took another route which was long but less tiring than the one I had taken before. I decided to check the other way too so started going down Malana from the other side and walked through the center of village, the descent was quite steep and the only difference was that it was cemented.
Because my bike was parked at the other end, I tried looking for a lift. Luck didn’t favor me and I decided to walk all the way. I had to walk 5KMs alone on that road. But with the Himalayas on your side, you don’t mind walking at all.
I will definitely come back again to Malana.
Text by Tarun Goel