Bhaluti is one of the villages under gramsabha Jeolikote of Bhimtal block of district Nainital. Besides this, four more villages are there in gramsabha (village level administrative unit) Jeolikote. Bhaluti represents the picture of a common Kumauni village. It is located on Haldwani-Nainital road at a distance of 29 kilometre from Bhimtal block office. It is at a distance of only 18 kilometers from Nainital, the city of beautiful lakes and hills of Kumaun division.
Geographically, the village is located at the north-south border of district Nainital. A concrete path protruding from the main road of Jeolikote makes the entrance to the village. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra of district Nainital is located in Jeolikote of Bhimtal block; it is on the way to village Bhaluti. A small river, called “Bhaluti-Gaad” (Gaad is small river in local language), flows along the eastern border of the village. The water of the river is used for animals and irrigation purposes. A concrete bridge has been made few years back on the ‘Gaad’ to enter to the next level of the village. According to a retired primary school teacher (popularly known as ‘master ji’ by the villagers who are supposed to be the most knowledgeable person among them) the village is protected by Gods and Goddesses from all the four directions.
Mountainous areas are rich in natural resources especially forest. At the entrance the village gives the impression as if it is a forest area as dense forest covers the whole village. These forests are the rich source of traditional medicinal plants and fuelwood. According to the village health worker, the nearby forest is rich in almost all types of medicinal plants used in Ayurveda. In addition, Uteesh, Pine, Buransh, Hisalu, Kilmoda, Kafal, Bamboo, Ghingaru are some of the commonly found trees in these forests. One special tree known as ‘Maalu’ in local language was preferably used as fuelwood by the villagers. It was used because it burns for more than twelve hours and produces less smoke.
Hill economy is basically, women driven and almost all of them are engaged in agriculture. The case of Bhaluti is also not different. Agriculture is not the primary occupation for men. Many of them are involved in some kind of other private or government jobs. Almost all the women are housewives. Almost all the residents of Bhaluti are Brahmin and Thakurs. According to some local people the surname ‘Brahmin’ was given by the Pandvas to their forefathers.
The settlement pattern of the village is unique in itself. One has to face the ups and downs of the hilly areas to reach the village. The village was divided into four levels. Lower most, both side of the concrete road, middle level and the upper most level or at the level of main road of Nainital highway. All the households are scattered around the village. The households are scattered randomly and located quite a distance away from each other. This may be because of the availability of plain land to build houses. Farms of the villages are either near to the households or at a distance.
The connecting path between one house to another is not well demarcated. The availability of water is also very poor. Out of 59 households only four were having their own tap connected through pipeline. Rest of the people either collect water from them or from nearby natural resource (water stream. There is one grocery shop in village Bhaluti. There is a common temple of ‘Devi maa’, ‘Shivji’, and ‘Hanumanji’ in the village. The villagers of Bhaluti share common primary health center, post office, Government High school and Government Inter College with the nearby villages. The primary health center is located two kilometre away in another village namely ‘Gaaja’ of same gramsabha. According to the villagers, this primary health centre provides no medicines and gives emphasis only on small children but health workers reported that they are providing primary health care services to all age groups. There is one primary school and KVK in the village. There are two Self Help Groups running in the village namely ‘Cheshta and Satyam’. But none of the women respondents from the selected village was the member of any of the self help group.
The caste hierarchy is strictly maintained in the village. Bhaluti is dominated by upper caste Brahmins and Thakurs. Villagers prefer to marry among their own caste but not in the same gotra as they are consider them as brothers and sisters. Normally marriages within the village and outside the caste are prohibited. But few cases of inter-caste marriages are also noticed. Some of the villagers expressed their discontentment towards inter-caste marriage. The villagers still maintained differential treatment to higher caste. Thakurs are next to the Brahmins in the caste hierarchy but Brahmins do not eat rice (it is prevalent in almost all parts of Kumaun that the people of upper caste do not eat rice cooked by the people below in caste hierarchy) cooked by the lower caste people. Even if both are Brahmins, the higher caste Brahmins does not eat rice cooked by lower caste Brahmins (there exists hierarchy within the caste also). Most of the men of Bhaluti are either in private jobs or have their own vegetable or tea shops. The villagers used to assemble in each other’s house during festivals, religious and social ceremonies marriages and during the time of distress as well. These all works are predominantly done by women folk of the village. However, people highly educated and /or in higher positions in service outside the village are respected by the people of all the castes.
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