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 is an updated one; it will help my readers to know about Kumaon tourism.
Leaving Munsyari we would go to Patal Bhubanswar. We stopped our voyage to visit few sightseeing places. One of those was Birthi waterfall. Birthi falls is located in Munsiyari which was situated with a high elevated land. Falling from the height of 125m, Birthi falls offered us an extremely refreshing experience. With lush green surroundings and with such plethora of lovable colors make the falls much more admirable. The waterfall is gifted with a charm and beauty which acts as magnet to tourists worldwide.
The place was a must go and certainly the place was a much more to see and visit. Tea stall and fast food center was available on that location. Birthi falls was 35 km from Munsiyari. Summer gave a clear wide view of the falls and the maximum number of visitors used to travels in summer. Winter had snowfalls sometimes during January and February. One could visit it throughout the year except for monsoon as the heavy rainfalls and landslides could affect your trip.
Again on the road. The road was spectacularly winding with pine trees both the sides. After a short interval we were passing by hamlets. After covering that road for 2 hours we felt very hungry. We arranged our lunch in the pine wood forest that day. That was one of the memorable lunches of my life. After lunch we reached Chaukori.
Chaukori was a hill station in the Pithoragarh district in the Kumaon. The Mahakali River, running along its eastern boundary, forms the international border of Nepal. This place became a prominent tourist place and from here a wide and scenic view of Himalayan range could be viewed. The golden yellow color of sun rays was falling on the Himalayan range in the morning time was really worth seeing. There were cottages available where one could stay and enjoy the serene surroundings. Chaukori was one such place where the dreamers could turn their imaginations into reality.
Chaukori was one of the few places in Kumaon, where you would find tea gardens. It was a tranquil holiday resort amongst fresh nature – a land presented with natural abundance, fruit orchards, and the forests of Pines, Oaks and Rhododendrons. One of the most magnificent aspects of holidaying in Chaukori was the fabulous sunrise and sunset that you are treated to. But we were not staying there because we booked our cottage at Patal Bhubaneswar.
We reached Patal Bhubaneswar in the evening but the light of dusk was still there. We stayed there at Parwati Resort. The ambiance of Parwati Resort was awesome. Boasting a garden and shared lounge, as well as a restaurant, Parwati Resort was situated very near to Patal Bhubaneswar. Our room had flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom. The accommodation featured a 24-hour front desk and room service for guests. All rooms in the resort were fitted with an electric kettle. Parwati Resort offered a continental or vegetarian breakfast.
The accommodation also offered a terrace. This property also has one of the best-rated locations in Patal Bhubaneswar! We were happier about it compared to other properties in the Kumaon area.
The cottage was beautifully decorated and was huge with a comfortable bed and a sitting arrangement. The bathroom was well equipped clean and had hot water.
There was no fan or AC in the room which later I realized why. At peak summer also the temperature in the hills is pleasantly cold. The food served in dinner was simple but delicious. The staff at the hotel was very cheerful and would tell you stories about the local legends and folklore if you instigate.
The view that greeted us in the morning at 5.30 am was mesmerizing. We woke up to the chirping of the birds; catch the hypnotic Himalayas, meditated amidst the calm surroundings. I felt the road to this resort would take me through the majestic mountains and winding roads of the hills lined with pine and deodar trees. We just could not miss the morning sunrise. We could see the entire mountain range of Himalayas. The view could be a little hazy and foggy. The resort had a rooftop wherein we enjoyed our morning breakfast among nature and chirping birds. Their gardens were all maintained and at full bloom
From there we proceeded to the mystical Patal Bhuvaneswar.
The Patal would take you to another world altogether. It’s a heavenly experience. It took 20 minutes to reach there.
Patal Bhuvaneshwar was a limestone cave temple located in the village Bhubneshwar. Legend and folklore had it that this cave preserves Lord Shiva and 33 types of Demigods (12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras, 1 Indra and 1 Prajapati) in hindu culture. The cave is 160 m long and 90 feet deep from the point of entry. Limestone rock formations had created various remarkable stalactite and stalagmite figures of various types and forms. This cave had a narrow tunnel-like opening which led to a number of caves. The cave is totally electrically illuminated. Built by the flow of water, Patal Bhuvaneshwar was not just one cave, rather a series of caves within caves.
Raja Ritupurna was the first human who discovered the cave. Raja Rituparna was a king of Surya Dynasty who was ruling Ayodhya during the Treta Yuga. Adi Shankaracharya visited this cave in 1191 AD. That was the commencement of the modern pilgrimage history, at Patal Bhubaneshwar. The journey inside the cave has to be carried in shabby lights, holding protective iron chains. Sheshnag are often seen, holding earth, heaven the world beneath. ‘Havan’ (fire sacrifice) is performed in a dimly lit, serious atmosphere, under the spell of holy chants. The cave, it was believed, is connected by a secretive route to Mount Kailash. It was believed that Pandavas, the ‘Mahabharat’ heroes progressed towards their last journey in the Himalayas after meditating here, in front of Lord Shiva.
The priest family, the Bhandaris was performing religious rites at Patal Bhuvaneshwar since the time of the Adi Shankaracharya. There are four entrances inside the cave named as ‘Randwar’ ‘Paapdwar’, ‘Dharamdwar’ and ‘Mokshadwar’. The Paapdwar was closed soon after the death of Ravana and the Randwar, literally, the road to war, was closed down after the great Mahabharata war. At that time only two gateways were opened. Around 12 noon we again came back from underground. After finishing our lunch we moved to our next destination Kausani.
After crossing Chaukori and Bageswar we reached Kausani around 4 pm. It was true that on the way we stopped several times took snacks and clicked photographs. We were staying here in Govt. State Bungalow.
Writing a review for the place I traveled is to recollect – the beautiful words of Wordsworth ‘And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils’. And this review was on the place where I stayed for only two nights.
We experienced the beautiful view of the peaks of Majestic Himalayas and found ourselves fortunate enough to be present at Kausani that day on which peak view was clear and what a beauty it was – sitting idle and capturing the hide and seek between the glorious peaks and the wandering clouds through our seeking eyes was really an awesome experience ! Now the 180 degree pure reverse experience we witnessed on next day – its snow fall and intensity became heavier along with the progress of day! These experiences are combined and more than our expectation to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Kausani at its best.
Now I must mention the property where we stayed, it was huge – a heaven for those who loves to walk, roam here and there and got lost in the beauty of the mountains, the trees. And food served was really good. The hotel was situated at a very good location in Kausani. You could have great view of the snow covered Himalayan mountain peaks from the rooms. The entire hotel was covered with beautiful flowers. We stayed in a four bedded super deluxe room for two days. The room and bathroom was spacious and cleaned. But there was no exhaust fan in the bathroom which was a negative for me. The hotel had a concrete building which had double bedded and four bedded rooms in ground and first floor. This building was near the reception and restaurant. They also had wooden cottages but those are at higher level and one has to climb some steps to reach there. So if you are travelling with aged people, I would suggest going for the rooms in the concrete building. We went to the restaurant for lunch. They served complimentary breakfast which I found was better than the food they served in lunch and dinner. I would suggest not going for anything fancy and sticking to basic meal. One more point to be noted is that if you wanted to have chicken in dinner make sure to preorder that at least 5-6 hours in advance as they buy chicken based on the amount of order, this was what told to us by the restaurant manager. Room heaters are available at an extra cost.
Kausani was a hill station and Village situated in Bageshwar district in Uttarakhand. It was celebrated for its scenic glory and its spectacular 300 km-wide perspective of Himalayan peaks like Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli. Mahatma Gandhi known as this place the ‘Switzerland of India’, due to similarity in landscapes. Kausani lies atop a footing among dense pine trees had Tea gardens (5 kilometre on Bageshwar Road), Baijnath cluster of temples (16.5 kilometre on Bageshwar Road) and Bageshwar ar the places of interest nearby. A fabulous collection of high quality woolen shawls, exquisitely designed by the local weavers, could be purchased from Kumaon Shawl Emporium.
We started our day by viewing sunrise. Then after our breakfast we went to Anashakti Ashram. Kausani was visited by Mahatma Gandhi in 1929. The guest house where he stayed is now turned as Ashram known as Anashkati Ashram.
It is here at Anashakti Ashram Mahatma Gandhi wrote his treatise Anasakti (‘detachment’) Yoga – Gita-Anashakthi Yoga. Anashakti ashram was well stocked with books and photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s life. There was a small prayer room in that ashram where prayers are held every morning and evening.
Anashakti Gandhi Ashram was supposed to be a place frequented visited by Sonia Gandhi. Ashram was a very calm and quiet location. Surrounding location of ashram provide the majestic views of Himalayan ranges all around. Ashram had an accommodation facility with 24 rooms.
After having our lunch we started for Someshwar temple. Someshwar temple, which had Lord Shiva as its chief deity. Constructed by the founder of the Chand Dynasty, the town offers views of the beautiful Someshwar Valley. Founded by Raja Som Chand, the town had become a popular attraction near the town, due to the religious significance associated with its temple. The temple had been named by combining the Raja Som Chand’s and Maheshwar’s(Lord Shiva) name. Someshwar temple was a very old Shiva temple. Someshwar was about 12 kms from Kausani. Its main entrance was very modest and one was liable to miss it easily. So after crossing mall area of Someshwar town, one had to start looking for a small board amidst old shops. From an old board depicting the entry to the temple, one had to walk about 100 meters on a narrow path to reach the temple.
After visiting Someshwar we went to local market in Kausani. Here you could buy the hand made Shwals made in the shwals Factory in Kusani and also buy the Tea of Kusani, jam, pickles, handicraft, Woolens were also available in Kausani Market.It is the ideal destination for Honeymooner’s. Famous Poet writer Sumitra Nandan Panth was wrote many poems to explore the beauty of Kausani.
Then we went to visit Baijnath Temple. Baijnath Temple complicated was a cluster of eighteen Hindu temples that were located in the city of Baijnath. The complex was located in Bageshwar district along the banks of Gomati River. These temples were famous for possibly being one of the very few temples in the world where Parvati was depicted with her husband Shiva. Pilgrims arrived here on occasion of Shivratri and Makar Sankranti.
It was a cluster of 18 stone temples situated on the left bank of Gomati River. The principle deities at Baijnath temple complicated were the Vaidyanath (Shiva), Parvati, Nritya Ganapati, Kartikeya, Narsimha, Brahma, Mahishasurmardini, Sapta Nartikis, Surya, Garuda and Kubera. Another sculptural component of note could be a life-size image of Kal Bhairava in vilasasana seated outside the Vaidyanath Temple.
In Baijnath, many statues were either ruined or broken; some were under the open sky, clearly indicating towards the destruction of temples which did not exist anymore. This temple complex was also smashed by invaders several times. Whether it was the greediness for wealth or the blind leaning to religion, the temples of Baijnath have faced much destruction in the past. From 1398 to 1939, it had been ransacked by Timur Lang. After a long gap, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb almost destroyed it, and then came Nader Shah of Iran in 1739, which also attacked the temple complex and ransacked it. Then the Rohilla Afgans attacked and defaced many statues of Baijnath temple between 1743 and 1744. Needless to say, after so many abuses, the relic of this place was damaged and many of the original wonders were tough to re-create. One such example was the Kali temple, which doesn’t exist anymore and the deity stands under the open sky.
We returned to our hotel. That night was ‘Purnima’ (fool moon night). Moon was looking like a silver plate. Kept three mountains as witness we completed our Kaushani tour. Next day we would go to Ranikhet.
Also read KUMAON DIARIES- PART 2
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