I spent 4 days at The Goat Village in Nag Tibba in Uttarakhand, and it was NOTHING like anything I’ve seen before.
Some of the best plans are the ones that aren’t made.
A bit confusing, that statement, I know, but I really think spontaneity breeds brilliance, and the surprise that comes along with it never fails to delight you.
That’s exactly how I ended up in Uttarakhand. I had just spent 5 days in Kashmir with a couple of fellow travellers, and the day they returned to their regular lives, is the day I realised I didn’t have a regular life to get back to, because this was it. This was my regular life – a life not so regular 🙂
So I booked myself on a flight to Delhi, and told a friend I was heading there, come say hi. And guess what happened?
“Let’s go somewhere, Peppy.”
“Sure. I’m carrying stuff from Kashmir, I’ve only packed for the mountains, so somewhere around that works for me.”
Cut to the two of us sitting in an Uttar Pradesh Road Transport Corporation bus, headed to Dehradoon. Tickets booked an hour before hopping on, accommodation arranged while on the bus. We were going to a lovely little place called The Goat Village, in Nag Tibba.
Why’s it called ‘The Goat Village’?
The Goat Village believes in an organic way of life, one that is sustainable and natural. It is run entirely by locals, who are trying to bring together different breeds of goats from across different villages, so that at some point, some generation might once again produce goats that give milk. This is held in an elaborately performed, Hindu wedding ceremony, and is called the ‘swayamvar’.
TGV is built with the same material – mud, stones, and cow-dung – as houses in the nearby villages – authentic Uttarakhand ‘Koti Banal’ architecture.
There’s no electricity here, so be prepared to kiss your phones goodbye for the time that you’re here. TGV uses homegrown produce, which is cultivated with absolutely no chemicals, and the food is absolutely delightful. The property in Nag Tibba is situated on top of a hill, where you wake up to expansive views of the mountains, witness miraculously beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and stare all night at the starry skies.
Getting to the Goat Village is an adventure in itself. We arrived at Dehradoon bus stand from Delhi at 4:30 AM. We took a rickshaw till the railway station, and got into another local bus that took us to Mussoorie. This, because it was still dark, and we wanted to witness the sunrise from the hills in Mussoorie. Sure enough, 7:15 AM treated us to some stunning colours! A 2-hour shared cab journey (16 people stuffed into a single car, I don’t know how I did it, lol) brought us to a village called Pantwari, from where we had to take another shared cab to a tinier village called Laser (pronounced luh-sare). From here, we hiked up 2.3 kms to get to The Goat Village, stopping now and then for a swig of water, and to capture the magnificent mountains that loomed around us.
Talk about an adventure, eh?
I’ve seen a lot of beauty in a lot of different places around the world. I’ve seen stunning coastlines, imposing architecture, beautiful art, lush forests.. But NOTHING seems to beat the pure, raw, untouched marvel that the mountains exude and inspire.
The hike wasn’t one of the most strenuous, but lack of sleep, lack of food, and the noon heat left us doubled over and seeking some relief by the time we reached the Village. The sun was beating down on us, and manna came to us in the form of an organic lemonade – OUT OF THIS WORLD – that the chefs at The Goat Village had ready and waiting for us, along with a deliciously cold napkin. I felt like I was coming back to life.
What’s it really like? An actual VILLAGE?
The Goat Village is one of the simplest, most genuine places you will ever experience. You feel at home. It’s easy, it’s warm, it’s friendly, and that is exactly where the charm lies.
The dining area is probably the first thing you will see, and it houses a little garden where vegetables and herbs are grown. This is one of the warmest spots in the entire property – maybe THE warmest, because it is built like a greenhouse – and it’s where I spent a lot of my time. It’s got great views of the mountains, beautiful wooden furniture, and is literally the BEST place for anyone who wants to spend some time with a clear mind and a laptop (AKA me) – the writing just flows. You could also curl up with one of the books against a cosy little mattress right up next to the window. Or you could strum some tunes on the guitar that’s by the door. Whatever you want.
Or you can sit by the window, and lazily stare at the cat going about its antics. It’s a source of pure entertainment.
As evening draws, this becomes the perfect spot for a candlelight dinner, because it’s so cosy and warm and pretty; and also because, well, there’s no electricity here 🙂
The cottages are well-equipped (sans geyser / heater though, don’t expect any of that), and we got one which had an extended window with a bed tucked right in. Falling asleep in the warmth of your blankets while staring at the stars outside has never been easier, or prettier!
Things to Do
The Goat Village is a great base to explore Nag Tibba.
There are a couple of trails here that one can hike on, the most popular one being the 4 km hike to Nag Tibba, at an elevation of 2000 ft. A smattering of snow was still visible from our base when I visited, so it seemed like a good idea to hike up and experience the whites and greens, but I had a busted knee from my previous travels, which didn’t allow me to climb too much.
You can also do one of the smaller hikes.
What I did do, though, was another, easier trail, a 10-min hike from The Goat Village, which offers sprawling views of the mountains on all sides, and a STUNNING view of the valley where the sun sets. The gradients of the mountains layering up against the horizon as the golden ball of light dissolves right into it is, as one would say, ‘wallpaper-worthy’. This is also a great place to set up camp and have a little bonfire going.. Imagine witnessing a beautiful sunset, falling asleep right under the starry skies, and then waking up to a beautiful sunrise. All of it, right in one place.
Just take a break, and maybe eat a lot of good food.
If I ever wanted to escape life, I would come right here. It’s so NATURAL, and so absolutely real. The folks running the place make you feel like family; they are so kind and helpful. And don’t even get me started on the food! The chefs surprised us at EVERY MEAL, and by the second day, I was starting to look forward to the meals more than anything else, because each day brought us something different, and completely organic. I ate a pizza for BREAKFAST (imagine that), the base of which was made with ragi (finger millet). Such healthy, much wow! I tried 5 different types of lentils, Himalayan white rice, ragi rotis, 6 different types of vegetables, desserts made with jaggery, organic green tea, and that damn fantastic lemonade, and oh man, sometimes I dream about the food!
Travel back in time
The Goat Village takes you back to a time where life was simple. If I were to imagine life back home without electricity, or hot water, I’d shudder (quite literally). But when you’re here, you seem to realise that it really isn’t that big a deal. Lugging a bucket to the only source of warm water (a tank heated via solar panels) and dragging it back to your room, by which time the water has already started getting cold (it IS winter) seems like a simple part of life, as does using a solar-powered torch to get around in the dark. Because it’s only when there is no hot water do you realise how precious it is. And it is only when there are no lights around do you see the sky unveiling its gorgeous, glittering self. Tell me, what would you pick? 🙂
Give yourself a break and head over here. Keep your phone aside and spend some time stargazing. Get out those hiking shoes you bought months ago and actually use them. Discover something new, something different, something that’s been there all along, but takes a catalyst to realise. Go, discover yourself.
PS: Be sure to do the treasure hunt 🙂
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Have you seen my other post on Uttarakhand? Check it out if you’re going there!