The sacred grooves of Dodra-Kawar
The social and cultural aspects of Himachal Pradesh – known as Dev Bhoomi (Land of Gods) – clearly demonstrate the reverence that people of the state have for the local deities. If we try to draw the historical relation of temples and deities on social norms, we find a very strong correlation between the two. People may dare to break the law of local rulers but dared not to challenge the authority of the local deities. This was one of the major reasons that ensured low crime and better social order in the society.
A view of the Dodra village
In our religion and culture there is a lot of emphasis on forests and their conservation. The local deities have also contributed to the conservation of forests and wildlife in a significant manner. There are still a number of sacred grooves in the Dodra village that is in the Rohru tehsil of Shimla district, bordering Uttaranchal. The local deity – Jakh Devta has a sacred groove wherein it is forbidden to fell a tree and to hunt a wild animal. As per the local belief anyone indulging in hunting and felling trees would have to face the wrath of the deity. The total area of the sacred groove is about 300 ha. Because of the strict conservation measures by the deity and the local people, the area has a rich biodiversity in terms of fauna and flora. As the area is very remote and tough, the people in the area consume a lot of meat and also practice animal sacrifice to appease their deities.
The people in this area are largely agriculturalists, horticulturalists and goat/sheep rearers. Bears cause a lot of damage to sheep and goat in the area. One can easily view some of the wild animals like Monal, Western Tragopan, Musk deer, Ghoral etc in these forests. Western Tragopan here is considered as the ‘King of Birds’. According to one old man from the village, this bird has a unique habit of taking a bath early in the morning and then only goes out in search of food.
The vegetation in the lower altitude of Dodra Kawar valley comprises of broad leaf trees and conifers are found in higher altitudes. However, the Chanshal top has only pastures and is devoid of trees, as the area is above the tree line. Out of the total geographical area 36,697 ha of Dodra-Kawar, about 35,178 ha comprises of forests, of which 3,767 ha is DPF (demarcated protected forests) and 31,411 ha forest area falls under UPF (undemarcated protected forests). The forest area in this region is about 95 per cent. Limited population, lack of road facilities and slow rate of development are factors that are responsible for forest conservation in this area. Some forests in this area are considered as amongst the best forests in the state. Moru is the most favoured tree species in the area, as they have multiple uses in terms of fodder, fuel-wood. In addition to this, other tree species found in the area are Kimmu, Himbrane, Moldane, Pabun, Kunish, Safeda, etc. and there is a rich undergrowth in the form of shrubs and bushes that are indicative of a good forest type.
JUNE 15, 2009, will go down as a red letter day in the history of Himachal Pradesh in general and for the people of Dodra Kawar in Rohru tehsil of Shimla district in particular. This is the day the centuries-old landlocked area of Dodra Kawar was finally connected with the rest of the world with the Larot-Kawar road.
The 61km Larot-Kawar road passes through the world famous Chancel Pass at a height of 12,600ft and is a part of the Rohru-Chirgaon-Larot-Dodra Kawar road which stretches to a length of 92km. The road up to Kawar had already been constructed a few years back. The construction of the Larot to Kawar portion proved to be a difficult task due to hard terrain and difficult geographical conditions.
The people of Dodra, Jiskun, Jhakha Pandhar, Kiterwari Dhanerwari and Chaidhar villages with a population of over 5,600 will benefit considerably from the construction of the Larot-Kanwar road. Till the construction of this road, people had to cover a long distance on foot from the Rohru side or the Uttranchal side. The distance from the Rohru side was greater and the shortest route by foot was from Uttranchal – a distance of 20km. Though the State Government has constructed the road in its territory, it is also vigorously negotiating with the Uttranchal Government to construct the road in their territory at the earliest.
The construction of the road to Kawar would revolutionise the economy, and will allow people to take their products to the market with greater ease. Earlier, the people of the area had to carry their necessities of life on mule. In earlier years, the State Government used to transport essential commodities by helicopter, but transportation of products was a problem.
Since the construction of the Larot-Kanwar road, the priority of the government is the construction of link roads to Jiskun 8km, Jhakha (6km) and Kiterwari (2.9km),. The road connectivity to Dodra-Kawar will also open new vistas for tourism development in the State in general and Rohru, Dodra Kawar areas in particular. This area, which so far remained unexposed due to a lack of road links, is known for its natural grandeur and world-class slopes in Chancel Pass. Tourism activities will also give a big boost to the local economy.
Circle Shimla Forest Circle.
Ecotourism center(Start-up area) Rohru.
Name of circuit Rohru circuit.
Rest houses involved Log hut Mandli FRHs Kashdhar Larot, Dodra, Kawar JiskoonJakha.
Remarks Potential for horse riding, ornithology, wild life viewing, skiing (Chanshil Peak), fishing, treks and trail hikes. River rafting in River Pabbar. Potential camp sites at Gazian Thach, Jakha and Tangan Khai.
Negi Home Stay, Jaskoon-Dodra Kawar.
Address: Prop. Sh. Narender Singh Negi, village Jaskoon, P.O. Jakha, Tehsil Rohru, Distt. Shimla.
Location: 60 km from Rohru.
No. of rooms: Three rooms.
Tariff per day: Rs 300/- per day.
Places of tourists interest: Rohru, Dodra-Kawar, Chanshal valley for trekking also.
Approach: By road from Shimla via Rohru.
Contact Person: Anup Ranta (+91 98998 35625) For all information like Tracks, Tourist Guides, Transportation and Stay.