It had been a strange sort of a day in Parvati Valley. After having enjoyed solitude in Grahan, we had made our way to far away Kutla. The descent from Kutla and the subsequent arrival in Tosh, waiting in the rain in Barshaini and then wasting time in Kasol (in the dust and diesel fumes) had left me feeling a little feverish. During the entire day, even the thought of Mateura Jari had not crossed my mind.
My travel partners were supposed to leave for Delhi the same day and therefore we boarded the Kasol to Bhuntar bus. I had no further plans except the fact that I wasn’t returning but planned to spend some more time exploring Parvati Valley and offbeat parts of Tirthan and Sainj Valleys. There was no space to sit in the bus and as we reached Jari, my feverish state had gotten even worse and without thinking twice, I got down from the boys and said goodbye to my friends.
I’d spotted a left turn that went up the hill just before reaching Jari; it reminded me of exploring the tiny hamlet of Mateura Jari many years ago. There were signboards indicating homestays and guest-houses in Jari village. I stumbled to a shop and the lady quoted me a fee of around 500 for a room. I asked her if the left turn indeed led to Mateura Jari and she confirmed the same. The sun was out and it had become uncharacteristically hot. I don’t know what happened but I decided to hike it up to Mateura Jari.
Mateura Jari was only a 15 minute walk away from Jari village and these days even a road connected the two places. I chose to take a walk down memory lane and followed the walking trail. I spotted a signboard ‘Village Guest House’ no sooner had I started walking. It could also have meant a warning sign, maybe Mateura Jari was already too commercial. But my fever was only getting worse and it was better that I reach somewhere and rest.
Within no time, I came upon some village houses and temples. I took and wrong turn and ended up in front of a temple. Some kids indicated to me that I was in the wrong place and I requested them to show me the right trail. Flowers of different colours bloomed as I walked to Mateura Jari. It all felt so peaceful and quiet, old ladies were knitting woollen socks and the weather also became pleasant as I climbed higher. Not that it was easy for me, especially with the fever. I was sweating profusely and was almost delirious in my mannerisms.
The recent rain had made the path slippery and I carefully made my way through. A calm looking lone foreigner passed me along the way. The valley opened up as I was about to reach Mateura Jari and on my left side, the landscape was lined up with apple orchards. I saw a man working in lush green cauliflower fields and waved to him. He greeted me and asked where I was going. I told him that I had fever and asked for help for a recommended homestay.
He turned out to be a godsend and told me that Mateura Jari wasn’t like it was in the good old days. The ‘Village Guest House’ was in fact an expensive resort sort of a place and not a homestay as I had been imagining it to be. He did a great favour to me by telling the name of a person who would host me in Mateura Jari. I was supposed to find his home near the temple and tell him that the man working in the cauliflower fields had sent me.
It is funny to imagine this scenario in this increasingly connected world. An unknown man had given me the name of another person in the village, and it was certain that I would be hosted at his home. And people don’t believe in magic!
I reached Mateura Jari village after climbing one last set of steps. The valley totally opened up and revealed a huge flat landcape with snowy peaks in the far distance. I was instantly mesmerised with the sight of traditional towering temples, fields, local homes and that dazzling background! A stiff breeze welcomed me and I found the way to the home that was suggested to me. Roses bloomed in the courtyard as the sun said goodbye again and it began getting gloomy.
It was only 3 in the afternoon; the man of the house was not there but someone called him (thanks). I told him of my interaction with the man in the cauliflower field and requested him to let me stay in his home for a day so that I could recuperate from the sudden fever. He was really kind and showed me a basic room and asked me for 100 Rupees. It looked unkempt but I was ok with it. I told him I would pay 200 with the food. I put my backpack there and went in the open courtyard for tea.
It was a stunning scene with another village in the distance which was surrounded by snowy mountains, which were getting enveloped by dark clouds. I felt a million times better after the ginger tea and slowly walked out to see if I could explore Mateura Jari. It was a funny situation; minutes ago I had walked in down and out with very strong fever – but the sight of green fields had rejuvenated me and I was gingerly ambling across the many temples in the village.
It took me around 30 minutes and before I knew it, I had walked across the entire village of Mateura Jari. I’d come across few old temples and some new ones as well. Needless to say, like other villages in Kullu Valley – entry was forbidden to me as an outsider. I had to be content seeing the structures from the outside. Cauliflower crop was ready to be harvested in most fields and some houses were stacked with the vegetable.
There was an open ground and small temple where I was staying. When I returned after the village walk, a few kids were playing cricket there. It seemed to be a place where the traditional festivals and deity performances would be held. And when I glanced up, I saw a small board of an upcoming homestay. I asked the owner if I could come up to the roof. He nodded and welcomed me upstairs.
Among all the epic views in Mateura Jari, this was even more special. There were 2 other travellers who were playing a guitar and with the view of the far away village, it felt surreal. I sat mesmerised looking at the floating clouds and felt the fever coming back again, bade goodbye to the owner and went back to the homestay. The kind owners gave me another chai and showed me the way to an upgraded room. I didn’t know how to thank them.
Within no time, I was asleep. When I woke up, it was around 7 and I felt hungry. I went to the kitchen where the lady asked me if I would be ok eating ‘post ke Siddu’? I was overjoyed and replied in the affirmative. The weather had become really cold by then. Someone came to call me for dinner around 8 and I sat with the family in the kitchen. The siddu was served with a bowl of home made ghee and was delicious. I could only have 1 siddu though because the fever had caused loss of appetite.
I went back to my room and decided to lie down for a bit. Suddenly, the wind started howling and it became very cold. I have no recollection if I switched off the yellow bulb before sleeping. I woke numerous times in the night and had a very disturbed sleep. The fever made me burn and I felt hot and cold at the same time. It was a strange mix of sweat and clutching to the blanket.
The day began with a cold downpour but it was all good as the fever decided to give me some rest and I felt fresh. I went to the family kitchen for breakfast and had tea. Everyone else was having siddu but I decided to not eat and instead to head out to a different location in Tirthan Valley.
I’d never thought of writing a post on Mateura Jari; but this turned out to be a memorable, superlative experience.
Read other experiences in Parvati Valley :
Have you been to Mateura Jari? Would you want to go? Let me know in the comments below.