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I had been to the Badrinath Dham, a 1200 year old historic temple built by the initiative and tirless efforts of the Adi Shankaracharya then and eagerly went three kilometres ahead towards the historic Vyas Gufa, where, as the saying goes – thousands of years ago Ved Vyas meditated. Just near Vyas Gufa there is Bhim Pul (Bridge) a huge boulder of the size of roughly 8×8 feet, naturally lying over the river, giving it a shape of a bridge.

It is said that it was physically placed by Bhim to cross this high tide Mandakini river by the Pandavaas when they went for salvation during the final phase of their lives. It’s a conventional belief that the Pandavas went to heaven from this route. Anyways, what’ s important here is that after Bhagwan Badrinath’s Darshan one definitely feels like visiting the last village of India called MAANA and its here that you can have the privilege of the visiting the last TEA SHOP with the title: HINDUSTAN KI AAKHIRI CHAAI KI DUKAAN.

Though this shop is now surrounded by few other such stalls but this is the last one, selling eatables, soft drinks and other miscellaneous items in addition to tea. Every winter the villagers of Maana Gaon about approximately 180 families( am not exactly very sure about the number) shift to their counterpart village called Neeti, near Joshi Matth during the winters and then return back in April when the doors of Bhagwan Badrinath Temple are opened for Darshans again.

There is a single patwari for both the villages of Neeti and Manna, quite a distance away from each other who had to travel miles on foot to settle cases during the winters if any pertaining to disputes or crimes. The village Maana primarily comprises of Bhotia families the Garhwalies, whose forefathers, it’s usually believed have come from Tibet centuries ago when there was a free trade between the Garhwal citizens and the Tibetians called barter trade, now under China’s jurisdiction.

The first woman Mount Everest conquerer and the pride of India Bachendri Pal is also from the nearby village in Chamoli district and the same community. The inhabitants of Maana village get reservation in jobs and majority of the men folks are in comfortable positions in government jobs having good eductional background.

Maana was also famous for the clandestine production of indigenous liquor as the area being cold most of the time is usually consumed locally. The village Maana is significant from the security point of view as the villagers are considered to be our border protectors as well who are of great support and moral boosters for the ITBP jawans and officers camped there to guard our boarders under extreme challenging climatic circumstances.

About 1100 kilometres from Delhi journeying to Maana involves about 800 kilometres hill travel. If you really want to visit Badrinath Dham and the last CHAI KI DUKAN at village MAANA do visit Garhwal, Uttarakhand and enjoying touring adventure watching roaring Alaknanda and Mandakini on the way that finally become pious Ganges at Devprayag, the confluence point of both these rivers. Uttarakhand is full of surprises, adventures and historical spiritual destinations. Don’ t forget to miss them. The Uttarakhand government has accorded Maana village the special status of tourism village.

This is the latest picture of HINDUSTAN KI AKHIRI CHAI KI DUKAAN posted on fb by Garhwal’s eminent literateur, writer of several books and cultural activist, seen sitting with his friend at the precint of the shop, namely Narendra Kathait.

SUNIL NEGI