Beyond the clichéd vacations, an eco-tourism village of Thano in Uttarakhand offers you the scenic beauty of mountains and the tranquil of countryside living
It is indeed a treasure hunt when you end up visiting Thano amid Uttarakhand’s famous tourist destinations. Completely untouched by commercialisation, the mountain-centric town is a retreat that even being a summer favourite, gives the oomph vibe during the monsoon.
Not so far away from Dehradun Airport, Thano lies around 20 kms down the Raipur road. The single road takes you to through a patch that is guarded by long-green trees.
As you drive towards Thano, you get to catch the panoramic view of the old buildings that date back to several centuries, still hanging there like a lost unattended house with frescoes on the walls.
Thano is secluded, quiet, and mesmerising in its own way. Sitting in between the popular cities of Uttrakhand, Dehradun and Rishikesh, Thano grips you with its rare idyllic lifestyle. Few kms down the line is the only market that Thano has. A limited number of shops, a handful of quaint cafes, eateries and mountain houses; minimalism is what makes Thano an unadulterated masterpiece. Gifted with the emerald landscape, Thano makes one feel different. It is a juxtaposition to the kind of life one is normally habituated to, a life of rush.
Upon reaching Thano, the first sound that one encounters is the chirpings of the bird, sending one into trance mode, as all you get to hear is them hitting the right tunes. Thano hardly has more than seventy-eighty houses. The crowd there is so less, it is bliss in today’s world to witness the kind of life the residents lead there.
Mornings at Thano start with mountain dogs accompanying their humans on their walk and people cycling their way to the main market to get their stock of milk and veggies. From the foothills of the formidable mountains, the scenery inland gets a little less dramatic with rolling hills and open countryside. With not so much of exploited tourism, walk a little and you’ll quickly find yourself wandering through the organic nature of Thano, which is non-chaotic and balanced.
Staying true to the tradition of hilly towns being home to few soul-cleansing temples, Thano also has one namely Bala Sundari temple. Visitors invariably visit the temple site before undertaking few exhilarating trekking expeditions. Not too arduous in nature, the trek is one to savour purely because you get to see the simplicity of the village in full glare.
The Thano homestay was admirable; inside out. It offered a bonfire area right in the middle of the house garden. The chairs were set, and rabbits whizzed around the organic veggies grown by the locals. The homestay was no less than a sight to behold. The two-room house was exceptionally beautifully decked up for the visitors, the tables perfectly set up to have a sumptuous breakfast. We made our way to the roof of the stay to eat in the fresh air. We sat on the chairs, with tea in our hands and some Marie biscuits. The view from the roof was nothing less than experiencing a picturesque painting of an ecosystem.
As we sat on our homestay’s terrace sipping our first morning tea under the shimmering blue sky, we heard birds chirping just next to us. We then noticed a bird, sitting there in its own striking posture, cheeping.
The bird sanctuary at Thano hosts a mind-boggling array of bird species that a city dweller would have never encountered in their life. The eastern part of the Doon is full of birding rewards and the Valley has lured the musical birds to make their abode in the green patches, mainly in the scrub forests, riverine jungle, agricultural fields and the orchards. A wide variety of birds can be found in the eastern part of Doon Valley, which is bounded by Sal mixed forests of the Shivaliks.
Common tailor bird, plum headed parakeet, white-capped bunting, long-tailed minivet, black lored Tit, fire breasted flowerpecker, greater flameack, wedge-tailed green pigeon, greater yellownape, great slaty woodpecker, crested kingfisher, Indian pitta, sirkeer malkoha, maroon oriole, lesser golden back, velvet fronted nuthatch etc. and hundred other birds are found in Thano.
To celebrate the variety of birds that Thano houses, they celebrate Uttarakhand Bird Festival every year in the town. Poeple from different parts of the world come to attend the festival. The aim of the event is to promote bird tourism in the state for local community benefits. Last year, during the bird festival, bird watchers spotted 22 new species in the checklist of birds, crossing the 200 mark.
THE AGELESS FOREST OF THANO
At the last stretch of Raipur Village, one could witness an open forest. Moving on from this area, the road crosses over to the left bank of the Song river, via a long bridge, at the end of which is a toll barrier. Across this bridge, the riverine scrub continues and eventually gives way to farmland. These open fields, usually with wheat or paddy in the monsoon and winter, are good for Grey Francolin and Black Francolin. A good enough scanning would help to get a look for Raptors, Jackal and Wild Boar. With little more assiduousness, one might come across Oriental Honey Buzzard, a rare sighting at the forest. The boulevard passing from the village of Thano leads to a mixed scrub forest and in due course meets with the Dehradun-Rishikesh highway just ahead of Rani Pokhri, via Bhogpur. Stretching a bit further on the same road leads to a patch of distinctive riverine vegetation consisting of thin Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo) and Khair (Acacia catechu) where there is a decent chance of seeing Sirkeer Malkoha.
THE PERFECT GETAWAY
Thano has always been a favourite of forest ecologists, acknowledged by renowned explorers and environment researchers, both domestic and international, mountaineers, and wildlife photographers but with time it has a lot to offer to a common man.
Subjected to very low-level of anthying artificial, Thano is an ideal place to be for people who appreciate quite life in the mountains, cleaner air breezing amidst the leaves of the trees, a hot cup of tea and some Marie biscuits all enveloped with blue azure skies. Thano is that rejuvenation trip one should take in their lifetime.