Dhaulchina: A Beautiful Vis-à-Vis with Nature
A long stretch of land surrounded with the greenery of pine trees, rhododendron, cedar and oak trees amidst beautiful mountains is a dream drive that I am always fond of. Dhaulchina, a village in the Almora district of Uttarakhand, serves its visitors with some of the best views of the state. Not a very popular tourist spot yet, Dhaulchina have everything that can bring it into limelight as a traveller’s delight. And it is for this reason that the location is fast gaining attention from the government and private hoteliers.
I took a drive to the Kumaon village from Binsar, another hotspot for nature lovers. The road is quite comfortable to give one a smooth drive throughout. The pine forests here are quite dense and they lend the entire stretch of land an outstanding beauty. I visited Dhaulchina in October and I could find fresh pine cones rolling everywhere as well as new buds up in the trees, which was a delightful sight. Stopping my car here and there, I chose to explore most of the place hiking.
As I walked past the pine forests, I saw silver cone-like containers attached to most of the trees. On asking the locals, they said that resin was being collected from the chir pine trees, a particular species of pine. This resin has a multitude of uses like oil-paint thinners, varnish, turpentine, furniture wax, adhesives, lamp oil, etc. While they are supplied to factories and various companies, this resin has medicinal properties too. Seeing a local person making fresh cuts on the bark of a tree, I moved towards him to have a view of the process of tapping. He made some cuts, at least 15 inches in length, which ultimately converged to form a repetitive V-shaped design. He then fixed the containers onto the trunk where the resin was draining. This resin, known as oleoresin, is a thick gum-like fluid and it slowly started to gather inside the cone. Well, that was something new to me. Before this, I had seen the collection of latex from rubber trees in the Andamans only once!
Tapping of pine trees is conducted mainly under the Forest Department and it is a regular source of income for the locals, especially in the rural areas. Walking amidst pine forests is truly a memorable experience. At each stage of the day, the forests offer fascinating modes of beauty. While at the noon when the sun shines the brightest, the leaves of the trees dazzle, while the chemistry of the leaves with the winds is bewitching all day. As I walked through the still forest, the sharp calls of the insects permeated the air, making me feel that I am watching a forest expedition on National Geographic!
There are a number of small temples scattered around the place, most of which are quite old structures. A specialty here in ‘Devbhoomi’ Uttarakhand is, no place of worship once built is ever abandoned. Local folks have a lot of beliefs attached to each of the temples as most of them were built centuries ago. I had heard about Vimalkot Mandir in Dhaulchina which is one of the oldest temples of this place dating back to 1500 years ago. So, I opted to visit it. Situated about 8 kms from Dhaulchina, at a height of 8,000 feet, this temple is now built as a complex. Surrounded with pine, oak and rhododendron forests, the Himalayan ranges offer a panoramic view from here. Birdwatching is another exciting attraction of the place.
Currently, when I am writing this post, there are very few places to stay in Dhaulchina. But I am sure a number of hotels will be opening shortly as constructions are active. There are a number of options to trek to Dhaulchina from Binsar. As the day proceeded late afternoon, I bid goodbye to Dhaulchina, promising to come back again and take the trekking route next time.