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Odin of Majhi

Updated: Jan 20



I met Odin at Majhi. This was my third encounter with him in the new millennium, and unlike me, he hasn’t aged a day.


Every year, he arrives at Majhi in April and waits for his people who stay a thousand meters below at the Agoda village. They bring up their cattle at the start of the summer months and wait out the rains in the grazing grounds, before returning below at the onset of winter.


The ‘all-father’ mostly stays alone, smoking his hookah all day long, blowing clouds that cover the valley below. He proudly tells me that he gets his sweet-smelling wet tobacco delivered every month from Uttarkashi, claiming it's the best. When I ask him if he really sacrificed his eye for wisdom, he tells me about his cataract surgery and requests that I put drops in his eye. I play along and oblige.


To maintain appearances, the ‘high one’ keeps a few cows and runs a small shop for shepherds and trekkers, where he serves tea, noodles, and ‘bish-kut’.


Majhi is a betwixt-and-between kind of place. Neither here nor there, it's a crossroads where the trail from Raithal - Dayara Bugyal merges with the Agoda - Dodital route. It looks like a village but isn't really one, as no one stays here most of the year. It doesn’t look like a collection of cattle sheds, but that's exactly what it is. The long rows of thatched mud huts or ‘channis’ are designed to keep cattle in and the rains out.


The settlement resembles an abandoned movie set of a medieval Viking village. Perched 10,000 feet high, it is free of snow for six months a year and just high enough to offer our first glimpse of the twin massifs of “Bandar Poonch,” which barely peek over the last tree-clad mountains beyond Dodital.


The old god invites us to stay the night, generously pointing at the meadows behind the village for setting up camp, and offers to share his hookah. As mere sons of men, we dare not refuse.


“Most blessed is he who lives free and bold and nurses never a grief, for the fearful man is dismayed by aught, and the mean one mourns over giving.”

Hávamál; 'Words of Hávi [the High One]'

(Wisdom for Wanderers and Counsel to Guests)

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