“The Last Indian Village”
Mana village snuggled in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand is the last village in India. It sits high at an altitude of 3,200 metres above sea level. This tiny hamlet is on the banks of Saraswati river, offering mesmerizing views of the imposing Himalayan peaks.
Note: Many confuse between Himachal’s Chitkul and Uttarakhand’s Mana village as to which is the last Indian village, among the two. It is to note that Chitkul in Himachal Pradesh is the last inhabited village. However, Mana in Uttarakhand has officially been declared as “India’s last village”.
Mana Village Overview:
Best Time to visit Mana Village:
- During winters Mana remains covered in the sheath of snow. It is the time when the locals descend to lower altitude where they live for the time being.
- Many travellers visit here during the summer months of May-June, which is the peak season here.
- However, the village remains accessible till early November. If you are visiting here during Monsoon season, then you must check the weather and road conditions.
Short itinerary from Joshimath/Govindghat to the village for a day or more around Badrinath/Mana.
- Joshimath/Govindghat – Mana – Vasudhara Falls – Mana – Badrinath – Govindghat/Joshimath
If you have ample time, then you can explore the Garhwal region. Follow the Satopanth lake trail which will offer views of the
- Mighty Chaukhamba
- And Neelkanth peaks.
Hire a local porter to help you carry food, camping gears, and other provisions as you won’t find facilities midway during the trek.
- 1st Day – Joshimath/Govindghat – Mana – Vasudhara Falls or Lakshmi Van (Trek 4 – 6 km)
- 2nd Day – Lakshmi Van – Chakratheertha (Trek 10 km)
- 3rd Day – Chakratheertha – Satopanth – Chakratheertha (Round trek of 10 km, tough gradient which includes glacial walk)
- 4th Day – Chakratheertha – Vasudhara – Mana – Badrinath – Joshimath/Govindghat
Accommodation at Mana Village:
- There are no hotels or motels at the village. If you want to relish the Pahadi life, then home-stay option is open for you.
- However, you can find hotels at Badrinath for which you have to drive 4 km to Badrinath.
At Badrinath, there are a plethora of accommodation options available, including several hole in the wall accommodations. There are charity run accommodation options available for the pilgrims as well.
Expect very basic rooms with or without hot running water facility. There is a thermal spring or hot water spring adjacent to Badrinath Temple (having common but separate bathing areas for men and women).
At Joshimath: Joshimath town at 50 km from the village has plenty of staying options for the tourists available at moderate tariff. The travellers can choose to stay at the
- And lodges that are well equipped with basic amenities.
If you are an adventure maniac, then you can opt for camping, which will treat you with spectacular view of the hills.
How to reach Mana Village:
People and Culture of Mana:
- The village, a home to more than 180 households has a scarce population of 600 people.
- The inhabitants of this valley belong to the Marchha and Jad tribe, recognized as Bhotias by the British.
- The natives of Mana spend their summers in the village. But to escape the biting cold winters, they move downhill at lower altitudes. Because the area remains fringed by thick snow and the survival becomes tough with little or no movement at all.
Things to do in Mana village:
- Mana is a small village with little scope for adventure but it does promise spectacular views of the mighty Himalayas.
- If you are here, then don’t forget to indulge in photography. Seize some beautiful shots of the hills and the village which remains isolated from the civilization.
- If you are history buff then strike a friendly conversation with the locals, they will share useful information of the village.
- There are legends, mythologies, religious beliefs associated with every famous place in Uttarakhand. Find a local anthropologist to extract the information.
- Go for village walk and witness the rich culture of Mana. Sun bathe and sip a cup of hot tea at the last tea shop on the Indian border.
- If you happen to visit this minuscule village then don’t forget to shop local goodies and handicraft items.
- It will not only encourage the local artisans to set up their shops but will also give livelihood opportunities to people living in this isolated region.
- Mana village is famous for making woolen garments made of sheep wool.
- You can buy
- quality shawls
- pankhi (a thin fleece made of sheep wool)
- cardigans etc.
- Apart from this Mana is also famous for its potatoes and kidney beans. You can buy some from the local market and relish them when you go back home.
Cultural Identity of Mana:
- The villagers of Mana take active part in the activities of Badrinath temple and the annual fair of Matha Murthi. People celebrate it with great joy and fervour.
- The people of this village used to trade with Tibet during the ancient period. It was a glorious era for Mana village as many trades flourished during this period.
Legends and Mythologies associated with Mana Village:
- One can find the traces of Mahabharata in Mana village. The legend has it that Pandavas traversed through Mana village during their spiritual sojourn to heaven known as “Swargarohini”.
- One can see the famous stone bridge built by Bhim (one of the Pandava brothers), which is known as “Bhim Pul” near river Saraswati.
- Devotees believe that during their journey to heaven when Draupadi (the wife of Pandava brothers) was unable to cross the river, Bhim placed the rock to make way for her.
- While another legend states that Vyas Gufa in Mana village is the place, where the legend of Mahabharatha was composed by Maharshi Vyas.
- There is an another cave in vicinity called Ganesha Gufa. It also has a religious importance and is a famous visitor’s attraction.
There’s a baba who stays in a cave round the year:
- You’ll be happy to see Baba Barfani who lives in a cave around the year. Many devotees visit the case to see him and take blessings from him.
- The ascetics who live here have a strict dress code that they follow. If you want to know more about the village then you can join their cultural programme.
Places to visit in Mana Village:
Mana being the last known village on the Indo-Tibetan border offers several spiritual and adventurous expeditions. To make your rendezvous memorable check out some of the best tourist attractions to visit in Mana.
- Sitting at an altitude of 6,597 metres, the Neelkanth Peak is popular as the “Queen of Garhwal”.
- It is 3.2 km away by road and further 7 km on foot from Mana village.
- You’ll be blessed with views of Badrinath and Brahma Kamal flower. One can witness it here growing in abundance.
- The thermal water pool of Taptakund is a sacred natural pond. Many tourists visit this throughout the year.
- Many believe it is the abode of Lord Agni. The kund is said to have medicinal properties which can treat many skin ailments.
3. Badrinath Temple:
- The holy shrine of Badrinath is one among the Char-dhams and Chota Chardhams in Uttarakhand.
- It is a Vaishnavite site and is one of the most important temples in India.
- This Hindu pilgrimage site is located about 4.4 km away from Mana village.
4. Vasudhara Falls:
- This frothy waterfall is approximately 8 km away from Mana village.
- It is about 2.8 km by road, after which you need to commence a short 5 to 6 km trek on foot.
- The wilderness around Vasudhara Falls will leave you spellbound.
5. Vyas Gufa:
- The cave is famous because of Sage Vyas, who wrote the four Vedas in this place.
- Vyas Gufa is only 200 metres away from Mana village and one can easily access it. The temple roof is what attracts the most attention as it appears like the pages from Ved Vyas collection of his holy books.
- The cave houses a 5,000-year-old shrine, which is dedicated to Maharshi Vyas.
6. Saraswati Temple:
- This tiny place of worship is dedicated to Saraswati river, one of the sacred rivers according to the Hindu mythology.
- The Saraswati temple flows in the valley. The travellers can reach by taking a km ride and further 1 km on foot.
7. Bheem Pul:
- As per Hindu mythology, Pandava brother Bheem built this stone bridge by throwing a boulder over Saraswati river.
- The Bheem Pul is within the proximity of Mana village at only 350 metres away.
- It is surrounded by ethereal natural beauty which is perfect for indulging in photography.
8. Mata Murti Temple:
- This religious site is home to Lord Narayan’s mother.
- According to the folklore Mata Murti requested Lord Vishnu to be born as her son. The Lord granted her wish and manifested in the form of twin peaks called Nar and Narayan.
- Many devotees visit here during the month of August as the temple holds a grand fair every year.
Trekking at Mana Village:
The village serves as the base for several high altitude treks that are challenging yet rewarding. Many avid trekkers from far-off places throng here to explore the lesser known trails. Mana village is one of the best places for trekking in India as it offers adrenaline pumping expeditions. There are many thrilling trek routes that begin from Mana like:
1. Mana to Vasudhara:
- The mild trail of Mana to Vasudhara takes two hours to complete.
- During this trek, you’ll be blessed with the awe-inspiring view of the Vasudhara river valley.
- The ginormous waterfall of Vasudhara is located about 9 km away from Badrinath temple.
- The locals believe that the place served as a temporary refuge for the Pandava brothers, during their time of exile.
2. Mana to Mana Pass:
- Mana Pass is a mountain pass in the Himalayas, on the border between India and Tibet.
- It is the source of river Saraswati, a tributary of Alaknanda river.
- Mana pass nestles the Deotal Lake, from where the river Saraswati originates. This pass is only used by the Army and ITBP jawans for carrying supplies to border posts.
- Mana Pass is not open for the civilians. A permit has to be taken from the administration to trek here.
- One can admire the unspoiled views of Chaukhamba, a mountain summit of Garhwal Himalayan Range from here.
3. Mana to Satopanth:
- Satopanth Tal is a pristine lake nuzzled in Mana Village. It is located at an altitude of 4,600 metres (15,100 feet) above sea level.
- The trek to Satopanth starts from Mana which is 4 km ahead of Badrinath.
- Since the gradient is a little tough, wear sturdy shoes that will make the climb easier.