The Mana village is located at the northern terminus of National Highway 58 and marks the north end of our country. There are two villages namely, Nithi and Mana lying close to the Indo-China border, at the northern end of Uttarakhand.
The first thing that gained my attention was this building. I couldn’t guess what it was, most of the Malayalis will never be able to.
Surprisingly, this ramshackle building is a primary school in the last Indian village-Mana. I visited Mana in 2012 and the number of students was seventeen. The school will be under the blanket of snow for nearly six months of a year! Formal education is not given much importance. But the kids were lovely, kind, and affectionate, the qualities most of the schools these days fail to offer their students. I gave them chocolates and biscuits which made them love me even more! We took photographs, and I was lost in the beauty of their innocence.
During the peak of winter, the villagers travel to safer, low lying places like Joshimath. Mana is a mythologically significant village in India. It is believed that Veda Vyasa penned Mahabharata while living in a cave here. Pandavas crossed the Mana village on their way to heaven and the site is now well known as the region of ‘swargarohan’.
Mana is known as the last Indian village. The village is famous for a beverage made from buckwheat. Many crazy tourists visit this place frequently for drinking this beverage. The scenic beauty, ancient and mysterious caves, the origin of the Vedic Saraswati river, the half-naked babas, and the valiant Indian soldiers make this place a unique destination in any traveler’s list. And this is why the renowned travelers S.K Pottakkadu and Rajan Kakkanadan visited this place even when the journey was risky and nearly impossible during those times.