The folk music of Uttarakhand has historically been inspired by the natural beauty of the region and draws inspiration from the day-to-day activities of the hill life.
In this post, we present to you how the twin villages of Chona and Billori look today and what made them famous. Despite the remoteness and small population, these villages have established a brand identity of their own, all thanks to a popular song!!
What made Chona – Billori popular?
In the 1970s, a famous folk singer from Kumaon , Mohan Singh Reetagadi , first sang this song. Putting below a few lines from the song;
<<jhan diya bauju Chana bilauri, lagla bilauri ka ghama
chule ki roti chule me rouli,lagla bilauri ka ghama>>
Meaning – The song is basically a conversation between a father and his daughter who is going to get married to a boy from Chona-Billori village. She conveys that the hot weather (‘Ghama’ is heat in kumaoni dialect) of the village makes her uncomfortable and therefore she pleads to her father not to marry her there.
The song became quite popular in the 80s but it also brought-in resentment among the people of the village as no one wanted to marry-off their daughter there due to this myth of hot weather. Village life and especially in this area of Kumaon were governed by many of such fallacies (at-least in those days).
A revised version sung later by Gopal Babu Goswami
Gopal Babu was another celebrated kumaoni singer. Some of his songs such as “Ghuguti na bassa” and “Ja Cheli Ja Sauraas” continue to mesmerize the people in the region. He also sang the “Chauna – Billori” song but gave it a slight twist.
In the song, the daughter now requests her father to marry her off in Chona-Billori and she even mentions that the whole narrative around the hot weather there is false.
A mere search on youtube will get you new renditions by budding kumaoni singers. It itself speaks volumes about the song’s popularity and how it has continued to soothe our ears for 50+ years.
Present context – Prosperity in Chona-Billori Village
Due to the abundance of magnesite and other minerals in the area, the people of these twin villages have been fortunate to get employment opportunities locally. Otherwise, the district of Bageshwar doesn’t have a strong Industry base and therefore limited job opportunities for the natives.
Almora Magnesite Factory (Jhiroli) is a joint collaboration between Govt. of Uttarakhand and Govt. of India and is located close to these twin villages.
This is a key reason that outward migration has been limited from these villages which otherwise is a cause of concern in the state of Uttarakhand especially in the hilly districts including Bageshwar.
How to reach Chona Bilori?
One needs to take the Almora – Bageshwar highway (NH 309A) and once you arrive at Kafligair town, there’s a diversion from the highway leading one to the Almora Magnesite factory at Jhiroli (there’s a big signboard indicating the direction to the factory). If you are coming from Almora , this diversion will be on your left.
The factory is only about a kilometre ahead, however, one needs to drive further for about 2 kms till you reach Billori Village. Chona is another 600 metres ahead.
I visited this area. No doubt, it is beautiful.
Nice. I’d like to travel back into Uttarakhand
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