Malana Magic. A solitary village isolated from the world, Malana sits on a remote plateau nearly 10,000ft above sea level. Folklore has it that when Alexander the Great vanquished Porus, he left behind a crew of tired soldiers in the Indus valley who made their way up to this place and formed the world's oldest democracy and republic.


Women at Work... women carry firewood back from a 4 hour uphill trek, while the men hang out chilling with their chillums or whatever they are smoking. Meet the feisty and fearless Renuka Devi (sporting cool sunnies), wife of the Malana village sarpanch or chief and who allowed me to use her toilet (strictly prohibited to outsiders) and took a shine to me courtesy her daughter who happens to be my namesake!

Malana factoids: The world's oldest republic kingdom. Temples with no deities and ritualistic animal sacrifices. No leather allowed. No touching permitted. I wanted to share a chocolate with a little girl but she wouldn't take it from my hand pointing to the ground with expectant eyes that I couldn't fathom. A village lady came and explained that the inhabitants do not touch outsiders and to place the chocolate on the ground. I did, feeling absurd but the little girl's eyes lit up, she picked it up and ran off giving me a huge smile:)

There's no looking back on the road less travelled. All photos taken by Kavita Khosa. Portrait shot by Vijay the intern.

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