In Episode 2 & 3 we talked about mode of travelling and itinerary. Today we will talk about the best time to travel. The best time to travel on this route is from 15th Aug to 30th Sept. There are four main reasons behind these dates. Since there are no crowds, you can visit the temples properly and comfortably. You can save 20-25% of money on cost of stay and cost of travel during this time. During these dates, you can visit the Gurudwara Sri Hemkund Sahib too. On your return from there, you can also visit the Valley of Flowers! In September, the weather is unusually clear, so that you can enjoy scenic views even far in the distance. You won’t get to see snow though. Nevertheless, the prime objective of this yatra is ‘connecting with the almighty.’ In this episode, you will see us travelling from Janki Chatti to Tipri Bisht village. If you become a guest in a village,… …and you get to eat more than 20 Garhwali food items to savor,… …& you get to watch Garhwali folk dance as well! Then how would you feel? We really enjoyed our experience. Awesome hospitality! It was fun! If I tell you that the time we spent at Tipri Bisht village was a golden moment, a golden experience,…. ….for us, it won’t be wrong at all. I really hope that you will enjoy this episode. Yamuna Maiya ki Jai! (Hail Mother Yamuna!) Today is Day 4 of our Char Dham Yatra. Yesterday, we went to Yamunotri Dham to visit Ma Yamuna. It was a divine experience. Right now, we are at Krishna Chatti, 2 kms from Janki Chatti. The ashram where we were staying here…. …we will have our breakfast here and then continue our journey to the Gangotri Dham. Today, we will spend our night mid way….. ….and tomorrow morning, we will leave for Gangotri from there. For your information, I want to share two important points with you. When you come here, try to spend the night at Janki Chatti. You can also stay at Barkote but your first preference must be Janki Chatti. Second thing – You should start your on-foot journey to Yamunotri at 4 or 5 am, so that,… …you can visit the temple comfortably because…. …after 7 or 8 am, the place becomes really crowded. So, it is obvious that if you start late, you won’t get to visit the temple that well. Now, we will have our breakfast here and then continue our journey further. Last night, I had told them I wanted to have Garhwali breakfast. They have cooked two dishes for us. First of all, you see – Lingda. We had eaten this in Assam too, where it is called Dhekia. A typical Garhwali breakfast! As per the traditional cooking method, mustard oil is used to cook it. But here, they have cooked it in refined oil. The second dish that they have cooked is called Phaanu or Phaana. Let us serve this as well. Its taste is delicious! There is a slight difference between this dish and the Dhekia I ate in Assam. Even though, the basic ingredient is same. The difference is in terms of the fact that this dish is grown in the mountains…. I have to admit. I talked to them about Phaanu. Black chana is soaked overnight. The soaked chana is grounded in the morning. The paste is then tempered with salt and turmeric powder. And believe me, this is the first time I am eating black chana in this form. Its taste is delicious. Eating black chana for breakfast, in any form, is a healthy option. That is because if you eat a good amount of it, you won’t feel hungry for the rest of the day. After finishing our breakfast, we will continue our journey further. After that we will move on. We’ve come to the winter abode of Ma Yamuna. I have with me Shri Rawal ji, whom we had met yesterday as well. Can you tell us something about this winter abode of Ma Yamuna. There are four main destinations in Uttarakhand. At the beginning of winter season, all the four Dhams are closed for pilgrimage. So, there are alternate winter abodes for the deities of all the four Dhams. The most prominent Math (deity’s abode) of all those four alternate Maths is the one at Khushimath. And here, for six months continuously, Ma Yamuna is worshipped by the Rawal community. The doors of Ma Yamuna’s temple are opened for the pilgrims on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya. The special figurine of Ma Yamuna, placed here,…. …sets off for the Yamunotri Dham on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya. And the pilgrims, who come to Yamunotri temple, can have darshan of that statue. After Diwali, on the day of Bhai-Dooj, the doors of Yamunotri temple are closed. After that, the statue of Ma Yamuna is carried in a festive procession and brought here. Then, for 6 months, Ma Yamuna is worshipped here. Can you give us some information about the origin of Ma Yamuna. Just like Gau-mukh (cow’s mouth) is the place of origin of Ma Ganga,…. …the place of origin of Ma Yamuna is 14kms upwards from Yamunotri. The place is famous as ‘Sapt-rishi kund’ (pond of seven saints). Lord Brahma’s seven sons, known as Saptrishi, performed rigorous meditation at that place. They went to heaven from there. Between December and February, when it snows heavily,…. ….can a devotee come to visit this place during that time. A lot of devotees come here during December. But it snows exceptionally heavily during January. Because of that, for about a month or so, all roads leading to this place are blocked. It is almost impossible to reach here. Afterwards, during February and March, the roads are gradually cleared and opened by the administration. It is after that that the devotees of Ma Yamuna come here to visit their deity. Thanks a lot! Jai Ma Yamuna! The winter abode of Ma Yamuna is 2kms from Janki Chatti. As I told you earlier, we were at Krishna Chatti and we travelled 4kms to reach here. But it took us almost 90 minutes to complete this journey because of traffic jam. So, when you come here, keep it in mind to come either early in the morning or evening. These are the two timings when you can easily reach here. Down there, you can see, lots of taxis and buses. This is quite a huge bus stand at Janki Chatti. Travellers who visit here for 1 or 2 days, can park their vehicles here. And we are at a height now. I can see mountains much closer from here. Beautiful views! We are moving on now. Our next halt would be at Hanuman Chatti. After travelling for 7kms, we have reached Hanuman Chatti. Right up there is the Hanuman temple. We will have to go up from here to visit the temple. When we were travelling to Janki Chatti, it was dark and we could not visit this temple. Usually, what would be better is when you begin this journey, you must visit here and then move on. Jai Hanuman Ji Ki! (Hail Lord Hanuman!) After paying obeisance at the temple, I met the pujari (priest) here. Sir, can you tell us something about Hanuman Chatti. Yes, I can! Okay! When Hanuman entered the ashram of Saint Angira, the saint was paying to Lord Indra. Lord Hanuman threw water into the worship place. The saint cursed Hanuman in anger. The curse made Hanuman powerless. With the help of Saint Narad, Hanuman reached this place. He prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva asked Hanuman to expand his body. Hanuman expanded his body and the place where his tail landed is known as “Bandar-poonchh’ (Monkey’s tail). The river that appeared with the stroke of his tail on earth is known as Hanuman Ganga. Sir, is this the place where Hanuman Ganga meets the river Yamuna? The Hanuman Ganga is meeting with the river Yamuna as well as the Sheshnag Dhara (another river). This spot is known as Triveni Sangam. What I can see in front of me? Yes, right there. Beyond that bridge? Yes! Thanks a lot! Jai Bajrang Bali! Jai Bajrang Bali! About 10kms before Barkote, we took a U-turn for Gangnani. When we reached about 300 meters down from the highway,…. …we reached Gangnani. I have with me Maharaj Ji. I will explain to you what he told me about Gangnani. Many centuries ago, Saint Jamadagni, father of Saint Parshuram, had his ashram here. On a daily basis, he used to take the forest route to Kalath, to bathe in the river Ganga. That place is today known as Malati. After doing his Ganga-snaan (bathing in Ganga), all his life,…. ….when he turned old and couldn’t go for his daily bath in the Ganga, he requested Ma Ganga to….. …appear at a place near his ashram. Ma Ganga accepted his request and decided to appear near his ashram. There you can see a statue of Saint Jamadagni. And right next to it is an ancient temple, which has deteriorated with time. And this Kund that you see is called Ganga Aani. Jai Ganga Maiya ki Jai! The small rivulet that you see there has been flowing from the same kund that we saw just now. From here, this rivulet goes to join the river Yamuna. This spot is known as Triveni as well. Right in front of the screen is the river Yamuna. And flowing behind the rocks in the background is Kedar Ganga. And right there you can see the two water bodies joining each other. Look at the magnificent view in front of me. It has been almost 15-20 minutes since we have been standing here. And it feels like we should just keep watching this beautiful view. That village in the distance….. …is one of the smaller village pockets you can see dotting these hills. The river Yamuna is flowing in the middle of this view. There are rows of mountains on either side of this view and in the back is the snow-capped Kalindi Mountain. We were there when we started our on-foot journey from Janki Chatti &…. ….we went to the Yamunotri Dham. Right now, right across from us….. So beautiful! Really magnificent! It is 7 pm and we’ve reached Dharasu Bend. We’ve come from that road on the upper side, from Yamunotri Dham,….. …as you can read it on the board, Yamunotri – 109 kms. Now, we are going to take a U-turn from here and travel 18kms to Tipri village, our night halt for today. So, this means we are deviating from our Char Dham route. If we don’t need to go to Tipri village, we can take this road straight to Gangotri Dham. It is written on the board, Gangotri – 124kms. So now, let us go towards the village. Travelling 17kms from Dharasu Bend, we have been climbing mountains, to reach Tipri Bisht village. I have with me a lot of villagers, local residents of this village. It feels so good. I have with me the Village Pradhan (head) too. It feels so good, I cannot express it in words. As soon as I reached here, I told them that I feel bad about not reaching here much earlier during the day. It feels so good being here. It is almost 7.45 pm now. Very nice! So Sir, please tell me about the programme further. The programme further is we will now move towards our village. Okay, we will go to the village. Okay. Done, done! Ohh Wow!! Magnificent! Sir, what is this called? It is called ‘Ransingha” in Garhwali. Ransingha! Okay! When we receive an important guest in the village, just like you came today, we welcome him….. …with the beating of dhols (drums). Really beautiful! Really good! The village head has invited all 200-250 villagers to eat at his home. He has just told me that today they have prepared more than 20 Garhwali dishes. These are fritters made of Pahari Dal (lentils). We eat it for breakfast or snacks. And these are rice fritters. We call this Arsa. This is also one of our breakfast items. These laddoos are made of Chaulai (amaranth), which we call Marsa here in the mountains. Chaulai ke laddoo! Really delicious! It is delicious. Isn’t it? Hmmm So, do you eat this usually as an evening snack or for breakfast? Usually in the morning breakfast! He told me that soaked rice is beaten to paste in the traditional grinder called “Okhal.” After that, gur (jaggery) is added to the paste and these fritters are fried in mustard oil. And you call it Arsa? Arsa! I am eating alone! You all are not eating. Sir please, you should eat. All this is for you! At least pick one! Really delicious! Arsa! I like gur very much! And I like mustard oil too! So, this dish has both those things, which I like very much. It is really soft! Chaulai is also known as “Ram Dana”? Yes, Chaulai is also called Ram Dana. Very soft! Ohhooo! It seems it was made just now! It is freshly made! Yes, just now! Really beautiful! It is tasty as well. You must eat it. There is gur in this as well. It has gur as well. Really! Chaulai is roasted over fire and after adding gur, it is shaped like laddoos. I have eaten Chaulai ladoos in Delhi earlier. I mean we eat it regularly. But not tasty like these ones! I mean to say these laddoos are totally different in taste. Somewhat different taste! As I told you already, they have prepared more than 20 Garhwali food items. Come one, let us know more about the food from him. Sir, this is our Pahari lal-chawal (Red rice). The rice cooked from this is very tasty. Sir, this is Masoor (red lentils) Badeel. It is tempered and it is delicious as well. So this is made of masoor dal? Yes, masoor dal – which is soaked and grounded. Sir, this is Ashka! It is made of Jhangura and Makai (maize) and it is tasty. What is it called? It is called Ashka Sir! What we ate just now, was that Ashka too? No Sir, that was Arsa. Sorry, that was Arsa, this is Ashka! Yes, Ashka. This is raita made of pahari kaddu (pumpkin). It is made with curd and it is very delicious! Sir, this is Pahari Urad (Black gram) dal. It is best for eating. You call Soyabean ‘Bhatt’. Yes, Bhatt. It is roasted, grounded and then cooked into this curry. It is really tasty! Sir, what is its original colour? It is of white colour. Sir, this is Jhangora (Barnyard millet) kheer. It is Jhangora cooked in milk. This is Gahat (Horse Gram) dal ka phaana. This is Pahari Urad dal mixed with Bhujela (size of a watermelon) and made into Badeel. Bhujela looks like a watermelon? Yes, watermelon! This is Pahari Jhangora. It is a recipe with health benefits. This is Pahari lal rajma (kidney beans). This dal is very delicious too! Sir, this is Gahat Dal. If someone has stones in the body, he should consume it daily….. ….for at least a month and he shall be cured. Sir, what is the effect of this dal on our body? It has a warming effect on our body. And it is delicious to eat too! This is Mandua ki roti. We have a saying in our mountains that eating Mandua keeps one fresh all day. This roti is made with Mandua (ragi) and Gahat mixed and it is really lip-smacking. Sir, these are Pahari Dudah, made with Gahat paste. It is placed on neem leaves so that it doesn’t stick to the plate. I have all this on my thali – I am going to start my meal with Mandua ki roti. It has Gahat dal stuffed inside. It tastes best when eaten with butter. Please you should start eating too. As I go on eating Mandua ki roti,…. …I have begun to realise that….. …there is no way one can compare it with a normal wheat roti. Here I am talking about two absolutely separate things. It is heavy to eat. You can say that if one eats a roti like this…. ….you would not want to eat anything else for 3-4 hours at least. I mean you won’t feel hungry at all for a long time after that. You can climb mountains after eating this. And if you eat two of these by chance, then you wouldn’t be able to eat anything till dinner time. This is Bhatt ka Chausa. Bhatt means soyabean. This is made with white Bhatt. So, I have called for some raw Bhatt to show, though, these are green in colour. Similarly, there is white Bhatt, obviously, white in colour. White soyabean! Now, what I am going to do is I am going to add some Jhangora in it. Jhangora is a millet. This is commonly found in the mountains. And it is also common in 2-3 states in the Southern part of India. I am not sure which states, though! But what is clear is that there are just 5-6 states all over India, where Jhangora is found. Jhangora! Now, they have told me not to confuse it with rice. This is because its taste is not at all like that of rice. Now, we will mix it & eat. By God! First thing, as I was told earlier, one shouldn’t confuse it with rice. That stands true. I think you may never have had this white Bhatt….what is it called Sir? ….Chausa. You must eat it with Jhangora. See, don’t go by its texture. You may find it different-looking but I am telling you, it is a golden combination! You will enjoy it! If you read about its health properties on Google, you will realize why this millet is not easily available. Even though it is full of health benefits. Very powerful! The 70% match of its taste would be Dalia (porridge). This poori is made with a mix of Jhangora & Maize, with Gahat dal filling inside. This combination has made this dish very different, very healthy, very delicious. My all time favorite…. ….white butter! Very delicious! This raita is made of Kaddu (pumpkin)! Each dish here tastes different & is a new experience for me. Very tasty! I had Black Chana Phaana for breakfast! And here, we are eating Gahat Dal Phaana. So, this has shown us that Phaana can be made with different ingredients. With each dish, I am having new experiences. Sir, please tell me how is Gahat Phaana made? Gahat is soaked and grounded in to a paste. After that the paste is boiled with some water and cooked just like dal. Okay! Great! Amazing! One thing I’ve not understood. There is Gahat dal here, here and here as well. This shows that Gahat Dal is quite popular in the mountains. This is a hint I’ve derived from today’s meal. We were also told that if someone is suffering from stones problem, drinking this soup….. …for about 30-45 days shall cure that problem. It is warm for the body. Now, I shall finish this food and then go downstairs to the temple. (Announcement) Now the women folk of our village are going to present a musical performance. The second performance is that of Sarai, a very old folk tradition of our Garhwal region. Two men will participate in this performance to the music of dhol and Ransingha. Now, the third performance of the day is another significant Garhwali tradition. This is called Ransu. It is performed by men & women together. You will see it in a while. The next performance depicts a tradition that has been in practice since the times of Gods and demons. That tradition is what we will follow in this performance. You will see it now. Please say something to our villagers. Thanks a lot! I am really grateful for the enthusiasm with which you presented this programme. And the best thing about this day, though it is not day anymore, this night would be…. ….see it is almost 1 am now,…. …but looking at you all, one cannot even imagine that it is 1 am at night. And I feel that if there is no time limit to today’s programme, we would continue to enjoy ourselves….. …till 5 am next day. One thing that I am not at all hesitant to admit is that….. ….it is the first time in my life that I saw this programme, wherein you all…. ….participated in this programme with all your heart. You guys felt like you were completely immersed in your performances. And, one more thing, that is in my mind…… ….that you must impart this respect for your culture and traditions to your future generations as well so that…. …whatever you have learnt from your elders and your history….. ….is transferred to your progeny so that they continue to bring laurels to the name of Garhwal. Thank you with all my heart! It is for the first time I have seen such an event wherein the whole village participated whole-heartedly. I saw everyone from small children to women and men totally involved in this programme. So, this job that you are doing of promoting your cultural traditions and also….. ….passing on the baton to the next generation,…. …is a very noble task. Thanks a lot! Thank you very much! We thank you for travelling so far to visit our small village. We thank you with all our heart! Very nice! And for your knowledge, right now, we are in the Tipri Bisht village. This village is about 18kms from Dharasu Bend. So, Bisht is a particular belt of villages, one of whom is Tipri. So, tomorrow morning, we will eat some breakfast at his place. Garhwali breakfast, I mean! Sorry, I didn’t say it clearly. Garhwali breakfast is what we would eat. And what we will eat is all upto them. And then from here, we will continue our journey to the Gangotri Dham. Tomorrow’s night stay is planned at Harsil, which you will see in the next episode. Brother, thank you very much! Good Night! Good night! In the next episode, you will see us having breakfast at Tipri Bisht village. We visited Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Uttarkashi. And stayed the night at a place near Uttarkashi. In the coming episodes, you will see our journey to Gangotri Dham as well as Gau-mukh! We will meet soon with a new episode, new journey! Till then goodbye! Thanks for your time!