Uttarakhand has a number of ‘ghost villages’, where residents have left behind their homes to search for a better life in big cities. There remains one village whose residents did not return.
The last resident of Baluni village, in Pauri district, left in January 2018. Shyama Prasad, 66, left because of his poor health. All photos: Srikant Chaudhary
Bushes and shrubs have grown on the three-kilometre stretch of road that leads to Baluni.
The walk to the village is a tough one. The village is 70 km away from Kotdwar considered to be the gateway to Pauri Garhwal and the eighth-largest city in Uttarakhand.
Almost a dozen houses in the village remain deserted, with most of them in a dilapidated condition. Locks in some houses suggest movement some years ago.
Only 32 people inhabited the village, according to the 2011 census. These villagers, however, left one by one since then, to look for employment.
The houses that dot the village are all covered in shrubs and bushes. It can take at least two days to remove the shrubs that surround these homes.
Journalist Ganesh Kala said the village’s residents wanted a better life. Some wanted basic facilities like education and health.
A community building and a temple are built in the village, where some former residents return every year in June to stay connected to their village.
There is usually a fair-like atmosphere in the village when residents return. This year, however, they were unable to do so, because of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
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