After walking for about six hours with heavy backpacks, we could finally see a village from a hill top at 15,800ft. All exhausted due to less oxygen and heavy load, it was really an amazing moment to see civilisation after so long. We reached the village and met Angruup Funchok, the village coordinator of Demul. He makes sure every homestay in the village gets its turn to serve the tourist. Unlike other villages of Spiti, the hospitality in this village is controlled. It works like a taxi union. You cannot choose a home stay. The village coordinator allots them turn by turn. He explained the rules clearly. The weirdest one was that you cannot stay in one house for more then a night. You have to keep shifting everyday during the period of your stay. This idea was conceptualised by an NGO who did an amazing job of giving the village solar electricity for two hours daily.

Mud houses of Demul Village, Spiti © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

Mud houses of Demul Village, Spiti © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

Demul is a village tucked safely between high mountains that might have got its name from a folklore. A resident of a nearby village lost his Demo (Female Yak). He began searching for it in the pastures. He later found the Demo grazing in a place with really long grass. So the soil seemed fertile. Soon, he along with few other villagers moved to this new land and made it their home.

Angruup showed us the room and took out a cellphone from his pocket as we all sat in the kitchen for a cup of milk tea.

“Do you get signal here?”, I asked inquisitively.

“No, I use it to listen to music and take pictures”, he replied while staring at the screen of his phone. An act quite common these days.

House of the village head, who has a satellite phone. © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

The main door of the house which has the only satellite phone in the village. © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

Inside the kitchen of the village head, the family looks at the call log in the telephone. © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

Inside the kitchen of the village head, the family looks at the call log in the telephone. © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

Interestingly, there is neither a cellphone signal nor landline connectivity in this village. The only way people connect to the outside world is through a satellite telephone (WLL) installed in the house of the village pradhan. I doubt its a public telephone service, but you can use it at Rs. 5 per minute for local and Rs. 10 per minute for long distance calls. You also get unlimited cups of tea and biscuits while you talk in their warm kitchen.

People live together like a large family and have more real friends then virtual ones. That’s what makes this village special.

The family from Demul village posing for a photograph in the kitchen where they have their satellite telephone. © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com

The family from Demul village posing for a photograph in the kitchen where they have their satellite telephone. © Himanshu Khagta / www.khagta.com