So, it is a bright and beautiful afternoon and you are on your way to the Valley of Gods, popularly known as Har ki Dun. As you walk alongside the lovely River Tamosa, at a certain turn, your gaze would instantly fall upon a bunch of haphazardly arranged wooden houses on the slopes of the mountain. On the first look, it would almost seem that the houses are rolling down the mountains in a haste, and on a closer look you would get the glimpse of scattered apple trees and a simple village life. And, thus, you have reached the beautiful Osla Village.
The story of Osla Village
Osla has about 250 houses and approximately 600 residents. Each house has goats and cows which are the major source of meat and milk for the villagers. They also have wheat and potato fields nearby, which serve both as their source of income and food. Located in the Western Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, almost everything is intriguing about this quaint village.
Coming to the village feels like entering a bygone era, and as such, Osla in Uttarakhand has plenty of stories to keep you enthralled. Legend has it that the clan that lived in Osla was faithful towards Duryodhan of the Kauravas. In fact, such was their loyalty to Duryodhan that the clan even made a temple for him in the village. However, the villagers deny the local temple to be made in honor of Duryodhan. They claim it is dedicated to Lord Someshwar, the other name of Lord Shiva, and the revered deity of the village.
How to reach the village
To reach Osla, you will have to start the trek towards Har ki Dun from the village of Sankri, the base camp of the trek. The road from Sankri will take you to Taluka, at a distance of twelve kilometers, and you will reach Osla after trekking for fifteen kilometers from here. So, basically, you will get to Osla Village on the first day of trekking.
When trekkers are really tired after the long walk, they usually make a halt at Osla to relax in a nice homestay before continuing their journey. The hospitality and warmth of the villagers will wash you over. They will be happy to be your host for the day with minimum charges.
The village life at Osla
Out of all the remarkable and unique features of Osla in Uttarakhand, the matriarchal rule that prevails here is certainly a noteworthy one. You will notice that here, the women walk around with bundles of wood on the backs and the girls chop the logs into pieces. The men are given the responsibility of cooking food or weaving clothes. The dowry system is in a reverse order in here: the groom’s family gives the dowry to the bride’s family. The women’s opinion is final in all matters of disputes and decision making.
Osla weather is a major determinant of the lifestyle of the villagers. The village becomes completely inaccessible to the outside world during the months of October-March because of heavy snowfall. This extreme Osla weather has made the villagers self-sustained. They dry goat meat during the summers to serve it as an instant delight during the winters. They make their own woolen clothes from goat wool.
Winters are also a resting time for the villagers, and as the cool breeze blows during the evenings, the villagers gather around the fire singing and merrymaking, while the aroma of mutton gravy fills the air. Though the villagers have made themselves self-sufficient in terms of food and clothes, the medical facilities still remain an issue in here. Locals use a herb known as ‘Kaudi’ to treat fevers and colds, but they are rendered pretty much helpless when the illness is more serious.
If you are planning a trek to the Valley of Gods on your next vacation, make sure to stop for a while at this little village along the way. Enjoy the local hospitality, listen to their stories, and maybe even taste their unique and delicious food to further enrich your trip.