It is an English version of one of my Bengali write ups which published in one Bengali magazine ‘Tathyakendra’ on 1st April, 2009. We, a group of 15, all members from our family traveled Kumaon in the year of 2008. After 11 years I am reminiscing here one of my most memorable tours. It will help my readers as a Kumaon travel guide those who wish to travel Kumaon.
Howrah-Amritsar Mail reached Lucknow Junction station at 5.30 pm instead of its right time 3.25 pm. We all were in hurry as the group was big with all luggage and the train would also leave. We called one porter trolley and kept our all luggage on it. As I mentioned earlier we were a big group of 15 and we had good numbers of luggage. After all got down one TTE (Traveling Ticket Examiner) was passing by. I asked him, why the train was not leaving? He told us that they would pass another train before leaving. Unnecessary we were in hurry, I talked with my wife and son harshly that time.
After 11 years when I am thinking that scenario I understood. Life is not short. We are making it short by living it hyper way. Life looks fast and short because we have accelerated it by adding more and more distractions. Look at the faces at mall or railway station or airport or even temple! There is no peace. There is no calmness. Unnecessary hurry. Even you and I are not spared. And there is only one solution – slow down and spend more and more time with mother, Mother Nature. She is the only cure.
Leaving Amritsar Mail we started moving towards Lucknow Charbagh Station. Once again I turned my head just to remind me that anything I left in train. This was my old habit, ‘Anything left?’. Now another lesson I learnt from Life. I forgot now where I read-
কিছু রয়ে গেলো ?
ছোট্ট শিশু কে রেখে আয়ার জিম্মায়
অফিসে যাবার জন্য মা পা বাড়ায়
আয়া প্রশ্ন করে , ” দিদি , নিয়েছেন তো সব ?
চাবি , চশমা , মোবাইল আর ল্যাপটপ ?
থমকে যায় মা , ভাবে যাকে সুখী দেখতে,
এত ছোটা , উপার্জন , ছেড়ে যাচ্ছে তাকে !
Keeping the little baby in the custody of nanny
The mother raises her legs to go to the office
Nanny asks, “Mam, have you taken all?
Keys, glasses, mobiles and laptops?
Mom stops, thinks to which he wants to see happy,
Leaving him, rushing for much money and earnings!
গোধূলির ম্লান আলো – বিষন্ন বিকাল
মেয়েটির চোখে জল – ওর বিয়ে কাল
অন্য পুরুষের সাথে, এসেছে প্রিয়ের
কাছ থেকে ফিরে নিতে চিঠি অতীতের
প্রেমিক শুধোয়- দেখ, সব ঠিক আছে ?
কোন কিছু রইলো না তো আমার কাছে ?
Twilight light – a sad afternoon
Water in the girl’s eyes – her marriage arranged tomorrow
Along with other man, came for last meet with her lover
To take back all letters of past
Boyfriend – Look, all right?
Is there anything left to me?
দীর্ঘ কর্ম জীবনের আজ শেষ দিন
পিওন বাবুকে বলে , ” সব দেখে নিন
অফিসে নেই তো পড়ে কিছু আপনার ?”
বাবু ভাবে – চলে যাওয়া দিনগুলি কার ?
জীবনের সিংহভাগ কেটেছে কোথায় ?
আদৌ কি সব কিছু নিয়ে যাওয়া যায় ?
Today is the last day of a long working life
Subordinate tells the Boss, “Look at everything
Have you left anything in the office? “
Boss thinks – whose days are gone?
Where is the lion’s share spent of life?
Can everything be taken away at all?
Still with my old habit I turned my head and saw the Lucknow Junction Station. Lucknow JN or LJN station has six platforms. The platform no.6 is accessible to the two wheelers, auto rickshaws and cars through an underpass cab way. From Lucknow junction we reached Lucknow Charbagh Station within 3 minutes. The present Lucknow Charbagh station building was made in 1926 with domes and minarets of Mughal architectural style supposed to mix with the design to the vital historical buildings to town that date to the times of the Nawabs of Oudh. The building constructed in red brick has a front of long verandahs decorated with Mughal arches. It is placed at Charbagh within the south of town, hence the popular name. The words ‘Char Bagh’ refer to the four gardens that existed here earlier. Lucknow city is well connected with all metro and other important cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, JammuTawi, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Pune, Jaipur and Bhopal by Lucknow Charbagh.
Evening had just started. I forgot where I read ‘Benaras ki subha, aur Lucknow ki sham’( Morning of Benaras, and evening of Lucknow ). When we went to arrange our dinner, I saw many cycle, rickshaws, buildings followed Mughal architecture, silk shops, muslin shops, perfume shops, jewelries and many restaurants displaying variety of nawabi foods. We packed biryani and revdi (famous Lucknow sweet).
We came back Lucknow Charbagh station. Our Tribeni express would come at around 8 pm. So we had enough time to stroll around the station. When I was travelling on the shadowy platform I was thinking about ‘Mandar Bose’, a character of Satyajit Ray in his thriller ‘Sonar Kella’( The Golden Fortress).When we entered train compartment all of us suddenly felt hungry and that was due to biryani that I knew. After 2 hours I felt we are passing through the jungle. When we switched off lights of compartment we saw no sign of human habitat outside. We saw forest all around and we also felt the presence of wild animals. After a long watching we checked time in our wrist watch. It was 1 am. Immediately we went to our berth and slept.
I woke up at around 4 am in the morning due to mosquito bite. I saw we were at Pilibhit Junction. All members in our group now woke up started walking on the platform. Train again started and reached Tanakpur around 5.30 am. With our entire luggage we took rickshaw and reached Prabhat Lodge just to freshen ourselves as a transit point.
After having our lunch we started for Lohaghat at around 3 pm. From Tanakpur to Lohaghat distance was about 90 kms. But first we went to Shyamlatal and Vivekananda Ashrama. Tanakpur to Shyamlatal is around 28 kms.
Vivekananda Ashrama at Shyamlatal is the realization of intense desire of Swami Virajanandaji Maharaj who joined Baranagar Ramkrishna Mission in1891.He was intended into sannyasa by Swami Vivekananda in 1897. He was one of the first four disciples of Swami Vivekananda. The scenic beauty of the place really charmed us. The place was placed at the bottom of mountain slope. 300 feet below was a beautiful lake named Shyamlatal. On one side one could see the snow clad mountain peaks of Nanda Kot, and Pancha Chully, and on other side there was a valley full of dense forest. Everyone was delighted to see the suitability of the place for meditative life and we unanimously took the decision to meditate here for few hours. The scenic beauty of ashram was really awesome. They had there guesthouse, medical center, school, dairy and meditation center. Though we thought to stay there but due to our pre booked hotel at Lohaghat we gave up that plan.
Again our vehicle started its journey through windy road. I was reminiscing the forgotten history of Kumaon. I was thinking about Katyuri dynasty. The Katyuri dynasty was of a branch originally from Joshimath, and established their capital at Baijnath in Bageshwar district. At their peak, the Katyuri kingdom extended from Nepal in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan in the west.
They were displaced by the Chand Kings in the 11th century AD. The Chand kingdom was established by Som Chand, who came here from Kannauj near Allahabad, sometime in the 10th century, and displaced the Katyuri Kings. He continuing to call his state Kurmanchal and established its capital in Champawat in Kali Kumaon known as thus, due to its vicinity to river Kali.
One of most powerful rulers of Chand family line was Baz Bahadur. Towards the top of the 17th century, Chand kings again attacked the Garhwal kingdom, and in 1688, Udyot Chand erected several temples at Almora, including Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwar, and Parbateshwar. Later, Jagat Chand (1708–20), defeated the Raja of Garhwal and pushed him away from Srinagar (in Uttarakhand, not to be confused with the capital of present-day Indian Kashmir), and his kingdom was given to a Brahmin.
In the latter half the 18th century, the power of Kumaon was on decline, as the king Mohan Chand was unable to properly administer the country. After the fall of Doti, the Gorkhas decided to invade over Kumaon. The Gorkha forces, under the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa crossed the Kali River, and reached Almora via Sor and Gangoli. Mohan Chand fled to the plains, and Kumaon was easily annexed to the Gorkha Kingdom.
The Gorkha rule over Kumaon lasted for 24 years, and has been termed as “Cruel and Oppressive” in a number of texts. After the Gorkhas started interfering in the territories of Oudh, the Nawab of Oudh, who was then a superpower of the British Empire, asked for their help, thus paving way for the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814. The British forces under Colonel Nicholas, entered Kumaon and conquered Almora on April 26, 1815. On the same day, Chandra Bahadur Shah, one of the principle Gurkha chiefs, sent a flag of ceasefire, requesting to end conflicts in the region. The war all over with Nepal signing the treaty of Sugauli in 1816, under which, Kumaon officially became a British territory.
As I came back to reality I found that we reached at Lohaghat. Lohaghat on the banks of Lohawati River in Champawat district is one amongst the vital places for its temples. This ancient city of Lohaghat has historical and mythological importance that attracts variety of tourists. Mostly devotees and pilgrims from everywhere drop into Lohaghat before visiting Advaita Ashram that is additionally known as the Mayawati Ashram. A sleepy little town of Uttaranchal it shot to fame because of the temples and fascinating locales nearby.
We went to our hotel Cedar Valley. Hotel Cedar Valley provides its guests with free internet access. This hotel in Lohaghat is situated at a distance of 13 km from the National Highway 125 Bus Station. This 2 storied hotel maintains a total of 12 rooms. Each room is equipped with basic amenities which include bottled drinking water, wardrobe and an attached bathroom with hot and cold water supply. Guests can avail facilities such as a front desk and luggage storage. Services accessible with this building include room service and laundry. We finished our dinner and went to sleep.
Also read KEDARNATH MODI CAVE (KEDARNATH KI GUFA)