‘Pari Tibba’ or ‘Witch’s Hill’ near ‘Saaremaa’
Unfortunately, while working hard to set up ‘Saaremaa’ and tie up all the loose ends one encounters while building a place in the remote areas, we hardly got around to visiting the beckoning neighbourhood and also following the inviting little mountain forest trails, seemingly leading nowhere. However, one afternoon in 2010, when my sister and family were here visiting over the summer, we decided to at least go up to the famous ‘Pari Tibba” which the renowned author Ruskin Bond has written so enchantingly about in quite a few of his books. We thought that the least we could do was to visit the site our hill was named after! It was a pretty hectic, though beautiful climb, filled with Oak and Pine trees along the way.
|The trail to 'Pari Tibba'|
On reaching the top of the hill, we saw ‘trishuls’ (three pronged forks which the Hindu Lord Shiva holds) on typical Garhwali stone shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, with red and gold dupattas draped over them. There was a barbed wire fencing which had been broken down purposefully. The multiple land deals in these areas are famous and land changes hands through fake papers too often for comfort. Each so called ‘owner’ puts up his boundary wall or wire , only to be broken down by another ‘owner’ claiming the land is his! Then this boundary is once again broken down by another ‘owner’ of the same land who says he has just bought it! The ‘dalals’ or land brokers make a pretty penny over these transactions, no doubt.
And then, after much huffing and puffing, we saw it! The famous little ramshackled house with the ‘pari’ (fairy) fable attached to it. So, this was the house which the entire mountain side had been named after…. there were a few half-broken walls still standing and a small courtyard kind of space in the centre. The fable goes that some British ladies were trying to build the house about two centuries ago and whatever they would build during the day would be broken down by fairies (‘pari’ in Hindi) at night. The villagers still hold true that the fairies or pari’s from Pari tibba did not like the house being constructed and would dismantle it every night. Obviously, there was more to the building and breaking, probably the villagers wanting a cut from the land deal, but I really liked this mystery story surrounding our mountain!
|The mysterious 'pari' (fairy) house behind the tree on 'Pari Tibba'|
We went further to find a large temple cum make shift home being constructed on the other side. The view was simply fantastic and we could see the majestic mountain ranges all over. There was no water connection so all construction was being done using rainwater in a rather effective way. The rain water was being collected in a large, black, plastic sheet held down by stones over a depression in the land. It’s amazing how the villagers contrive to use rain water with little ‘parnalis’ of all shapes and sizes placed on their terraces which lead into large and small drums below, while in the cities, rain water harvesting is still not too common a sight. I suppose necessity is the mother of invention!