CHAPTER 3: STUDY AREA 

Present study has been conducted in sacred forests
of pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, India. Pithoragarh is located 150 km
from the railway station of Tanakpur (which is the nearest railway station),
Kathgodam and Lalkuan is another railway station which is 210 km from the
district. The geographical area of the district is 7,100 sq. km. Pithoragarh
town, which is located in Soar valley. There is Tibet plateau situated to the
north of the district. Nepal lies on the eastern borders. Kumauni is the
language which is widely spoken in various form as Gangoli (in the area of
Gangolihat tehsil), Suryali (Pithoragrah tehsil), Bhotia, Hunia (Dharchula and
Munsiayari) etc. Climate: Generally there are four seasons in an year viz. Winter,
summer, Rainy and spring season. Uttarakhand comprises 13 districts out of
which Pithoragarh district (which comes under Kumaun region), is important area
of floral diversity, it comprises of five tehsils-Munsiayari, Dharchula,
Didihat, Gangolihat and Pithoragarh. The district is also priviledged being
pathway for the great Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage. On the other hand the
rivers like Kali, Sarju, Ramganga (eastern) and Gori flow here (Fig.1). There
are number of deities or ancestors i.e., Golu Dev, Gangnath, Harju, Shyamju,
Malay Nath, Kot Gaadi, Banri Devi, Kasar Devi, Maddyo, Hokra Devi, Haat Kalika,
Nakuleshwar mahadev, Lateshwar, etc. are local deities of the area.

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3.1
Selected sacred areas      

 The study was
conducted in twelve forests located in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand
state, India. Twelve sites represents sacred forests: (1) Haat Kalika sacred
forest, Gangolihaat, (2) Haat Kalika non sacred forest, Gangolihaat (3)
Chamunda Devi sacred forest, Gangolihaat(4) Chamunda Devi non sacred forest,
Gangolihaat (5) Betal devta sacred forest, Kanalichina,(6) Betal devta non
sacred forest, Kanalichina, (7) Thal Kedar sacred forest, Badabe (8) Thal Kedar
non sacred forest, Badabe (9) Pasupatinath sacred forest, Chandak,(10)
Pasupatinath non sacred forest, Chandak (11) Golu devta sacred forest, Ratwali
(12) Golu devta non sacred forest, Ratwali

3.1.1
Haat Kalika Sacred Forest: Haat Kali sacred forest is tribute
to Maa Kalika, situated near Rawal goan in Gangolihat tehsil, of Pithoragarh
district at an altitude of 1695 m asl covered with forest of Cedrus deodara Roxb. ex D.Don.. It is
rich in folk culture and religious traditional culture and established by
Sankaracharya. Local communities such as Rawal, Pant, Joshi, Pathak, Mehta,
Bhandari, Karki and Negi worship goddess Kalika and enforce the rules for
sacred forest .

    3.1.2 Haat kalika non sacred forest: Haat
Kali non sacred forest is situated near Rawal goan in Gangolihat tehsil, of
Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 1709 m asl covered with forest of Cedrus deodara Roxb. ex D.Don. Local
communities such as Rawal, Pant, Joshi, Pathak, Mehta, Bhandari, Karki and
Negi.

       3.1.3  Chamunda Devi Sacred Forest:
Chamunda Devi sacred forest is devoted to Maa Chamunda, situated near Hanera
village in Gangolihat tehsil, of Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 1795m
asl covered with forest of Cedrus deodara
Roxb. ex D.Don, Established by Sankaracharya. Local communities such as
Pant, Joshi, Upreti, Bhandari, Tamta and Pathak worship goddess Chamunda.

3.1.4
Chamunda devi non sacred forest: Chamunda Devi non
sacred forest is situated near Hanera village in Gangolihat tehsil, of
Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 1765m asl covered with forest of Pinus roxburghii. Local communities such
as Pant, Joshi, Upreti, Bhandari, Tamta and Pathak.

3.1.5
Betal Devta Sacred Forest: Sacred forest is tribute to God
Betal, situated near Siroli village Kanalichina tehsil, of Pithoragarh district
at an altitude of 1504m asl covered with forest of Quercus leucotrichophora. It is rich in folk culture like songs,
worship methods and established by local ensisters of village Siroli about 750
year ago. Local communities Sirola, Upadhyay, Joshi, Bhandari and Arya found in
nearby villages such as Satgad, Bhandarigaon and Gudoli.

3.1.6
 Betal devta non sacred forest: Sacred
forest situated near Siroli village Kanalichina tehsil, of Pithoragarh district
at an altitude of 1497m asl covered with forest of Quercus leucotrichophora. Local communities Sirola, Upadhyay,
Joshi, Bhandari and Arya found in nearby villages.

  3.1.7  Thal
Kedar Sacred Forest: Sacred forest is tribute to Lord Shiva,
situated  near Badabe village in of
Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 2602m asl covered with forest of Quercus floribunda. Local communities
such as Bhatt, Joshi, Ram, Oli, and Negi worship god Shiva since about more
than 800 years .

3.1.8
 Thal kedar non sacred forest:
Sacred forest is situated near Badabe village in of Pithoragarh district at an
altitude of 2575m asl covered with forest of Quercus floribunda. Local communities around forest are  Bhatt, Joshi, Ram, Oli, and Negi.

 3.1.9  Golu
Devta Sacred Forest: Sacred forest situated near Ratwali
village in Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 1823m asl covered with forest
of Quercus leucotrichophora. This
Sacred forest devoted to God Golu believed as God of justice. Local communities
such as Joshi, Pandey and Mehta worship god Golu Devta since about 600 years.

  3.1.10  Golu devta non sacred forest: Sacred
forest situated near Ratwali village in Pithoragarh district at an altitude of
1809m asl covered with forest of Quercus
leucotrichophora/pinus roxburghii. Local communities are Joshi, Pandey and
Mehta

 3.1.11  Pasupatinath
Sacred Forest: Sacred forest is tribute to God
Psupatinath, situated near Dunga village Chandak, of Pithoragarh district at an
altitude of 1906m asl covered with forest of Quercues lecucotrichophora. 
Local communities such as Joshi and Bisht worship god Pasupatinath since
about 250 years .

3.1.12
 Pasupatinath non sacred forest: Sacred
forest is situated near Dunga village Chandak, of Pithoragarh district at an
altitude of 1890 m asl covered with forest of Quercues lecucotrichophora. 
Local communities are Joshi and Bisht.

 

3.2
Climate

With the increasing or decreasing altitude the
climate of a region varies to a greater extent. The climate of the area is
typically consists of mainly four distinct seasons- summer (April-July), rainy
(August-September), autumn (Oct-Nov) and winter season (Dec-March). The temperature
ranged between 3.20C to 28.70C in the study area during
the study period, while rainfall ranged between 7 to 390 mm (Fig. 1a). Average
maximum rainfall recorded in monsoon (July 390mm) and minimum in autumn
(November 7mm). Average maximum temperature was recorded in summer (28.7°C) and
minimum in winter (3.2°C). The available information on climate and meteorology
of the area is presented in Fig. 1 (a& b).

a

b

Fig.3.1. (a&b).
Metereological Information from 2014 to 2016 ( www.Climate-data.org.in)

 

UTTARAKHAND

INDIA

PITHORAGARH

     Fig
3.2: Map of Study area Pithoragarh (Google map)

 

 

 

 

2

1

 

 

12

4

3

 

 

6

5

 

Fig 3.3 : Map of study area (1.
Haat Kalika sacred foest 2.
Chamunda Devi Sacred Forest 3.
Pasupatinath Sacred Forest 4.
Betal Devta Sacred Forest 5.
Golu Devta Sacred Forest 6. Thal
Kedar Sacred forest). Google earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO PLATE 3.1: PHOTOGRAPHS OF
SACRED AND NON SACRED FORESTS

Thal kedar sacred forest

Thal
kedar non sacred forest

Betal
Sacred forest

 

Betal
non sacred forest

Pasupatinath
Sacred forest

 

Pasupatinath
non sacred forest

 

Ratwali
sacred forest

Ratwali
non sacred forest

 

 

Chamunda
sacred and forest

 

Chamunda non
sacred forest

Kalika
sacred forest

 

Kalika
non sacred forest

 

PHOTO PLATE 3.2: PHOTOGRAPHS OF
TEMPLE OF LOCAL DEITIES

1. SF Haat Kalika
 

4. SF Golu Devta

3. SF Chamunda Devi

6. SF Betal Devta

2. SF Thal Kedar

5. SF Pasupatinath