How To Reach Gaichwan Gaon
There are 2 direct buses from Dehradun railway station to Sankri. They leave at 6 am and 7 am respectively from Dehradun ISBT. The cost per ticket is Rs 350 – 400/-
If you are reaching Dehradun late, you can take a bus to Purola/Naugaon and then a shared cab to Sankri. It costs Rs 150, make sure you reach Purola by 3 pm to take the last shared cab to Sankri.
After you reach Sankri, you can take a share cab to Gaichwangaon. It costs Rs. 500 per cab. You will be sharing the cost with others. You can also walk up to Gaichwangaon. It is 4km away from Sankri.
Tip: While this bus hopping may sound cumbersome, we do it regularly at Indiahikes. They are a fun and a good way to know the real Uttarakhand. You also get to meet very interesting local people. So while no one wants to miss a pick up, don’t be too disheartened if it happens. You may just experience one of your best travel moments!
Note: We are looking for village photos of Gaichawan Gaon. If you have trekked to this rustic village, have photos and would like to contribute to Indiahikes Trekipedia, please mail them to [email protected]
3 Things You Should Know About Gaichawan Gaon
The homestay at Kedarkantha basecamp looks no less than a castle.
A charming thing about it is that it faces the western sky. As soon as you get down from the vehicles – after the long, winding drive from Dehradun – you are greeted with a spectacular sunset.
But here’s a tiny detail that you don’t know. Even though this basecamp is referred to as Gaichawan Gao, the real Gaichawan Gaon is around 1500 feet below the homestay where you live.
If you ever happen to trek down there, you’ll notice that the real Gaichawan Gaon is a typical Uttarakhandi village, even more rustic than how Sankri was before tin roofs entered the scene.
You may know many things about the Kedarkantha trek that begins from Gaichawan Gaon. But not many talk about certain details hidden in the fold of this rustic basecamp.
1. Indiahikes basecamp is not exactly at Gaichawan Gaon
The actual name of the location where Indiahikes basecamp is situated is Shialdi.
“The real Gaichwan Gaon, situated 1,500 feet below is spread out. When you take a route off Sankri, you see a big ground, that’s Gaichwan Gaon. There is Karan Maharaj temple, and grading of apples happens here,” says Trek Leader Chetan Mathur (Dawa).
“Right from our basecamp we see a beautiful sunset. So as soon you get off from your car – after traveling the long distance between Dehradun and Gaichwan Gaon – a spectacular sunset awaits you. You don’t need to go anywhere. You simply get off from you car, and the sunset is right there,” says Trek Leader Krupa Vyas.
During the day, sunlight also remains on this campsite for a long time. That’s a relief in winters.
The house of Gaichwan are so lovely, mace of wood and stone. They’re also coated with mud. They are very well-structured.
2. Structure of a traditional house at Gaichwan Gaon
If you closely notice the old houses, you see that they are divided into three layers. The lower-most part (obra) is for the cattles. The floor for this section is made out of dry pine needles. This offers insulation. The heat of the floor and heat of bodies of the cattle get transferred to the next floor.
In the middle are sheep. Here also the floor is layered with dried pine needles. The heat from this floor then gets transferred to the top floor, where people stay. This floor is called bheetar.
Then is the roof. It is made of flat rocks that you find on the Kedarkantha summit, much. It’s called slate. This rock is hard but easy to cut. The roof is alternately layered with tiles of slate. Locally, they are referred to as pataali.
So when a house is being constructed, a mason climbs the mountains, gets the rock, makes pataali out of it and informs the owner when the required number of tiles are made. As its too heavy for one person to lay it, the entire community then comes forward and helps in layering the roof with pataali.
Nowadays locals are opting for tin replacements because it’s easier to lay, but the advantage of pataali is that it heats up quickly in sunlight and any snow collected on it melts and drips down fast.
Pataali also provides insulation. It could also stop the wind because of the way it was laid on the roof.
“It’s similar to how we have an outer and inner for our tents. Even the houses in high-altitude follow the concept. The inner is made of wooden, above that comes pataali as an outer. That’s how it protects the house during rain and snow,” Krupa says.
“The wood used to build this inner is solid wood of pine. They do not use oak wood because it is soft from inside as its porous and soaks in a lot of water. Comparatively, pine is more dense and solid and is used for constructing houses,” Trek Leader Dawa says.
| Additional info: As oak soaks up a lot of water, you usually see ferns and moss growing on the trunk of oak trees.
Whatever local houses you see in Gaichwan Gaon, the floor which houses the people will always have a balcony so that you don’t fall off as soon as you set out of the house. It also offers a space to soak in the sun during cold, winter mornings. This designated area is called phadki.
They also have a designated section of a fire place around which people sit during cold days.
The structure is designed on the way the heat gets transferred from one floor to the other.
3. Why Indiahikes Homestay at Kedarkantha Basecamp Is Special
Our homestay at Gaichwan Gaon is a cultural hotspot. You will be able to see the Kothar here, which is the grain bank. In winters, it is used to store ration because routes sometimes get closed due to lots of snow blocking the roads.
In this Kothar you have underground levels. As you enter, there is a floor with ration. Under that, there is another floor section to keep ration. So when you reach the basecamp of Kedarkantha trek, you get to see this ethnic structure of Kothar with two underground levels.
“They are designed very beautifully with wood. The architecture is so distinct that you can spot it from far,” says Krupa.