No, we did not see the Himalayan range in all its splendour. But, what I remember from our trip to Kausani is the valley we could see way down below from Almora, purple, white and yellow flowers smothering the trees bearing them, industrious women in their colourful attire working the fields, hardy men taking their cattle for a graze, pink-cheeked children cheerfully walking miles to school and the unhurried way in which life progressed for its people.
We visited Kausani in May, during the annual school holidays, but, on reaching our destination we realized that the skies were very hazy and despite having the perfect vantage point, we couldn’t even make out the outline of the mountains. However, the spectacle of beautiful birds, fluffier than their non-hill brethren, competing for space on the trees with numerous monkeys, substantially buoyed our spirits.
The next day followed the peace and serenity of the Anasakti Ashram – a place where you could hear a person whisper for miles around. I remember a book on Mahatma Gandhi from my childhood and the ashram displayed almost all the photos that were in it – while I was captivated, the kids were in and out of the place in a few minutes. How disappointing, I thought.
Bageshwar was a totally different matter though. This place marks the confluence of the Gomti and Sarayu rivers. My daughter is a ‘rock’ fan so, with its bounty of rocks of all shapes and sizes, the waters presented an irresistible attraction. The kids shot off ahead of us…..and were rudely shocked by how cold the water was. That is so typical of the hills in the North – it’s sweltering hot all around and the water is hand-numbingly cold. While I gazed at the golden coloured rocks, tiny fish and pools of rainbows in the water, the kids collected half their weight in stones.
The Bagnath temple, from which the city of Bageshwar derives its name, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is supposed to have visited his devotee sage Markandey, in the form of a tiger or ‘bagh’. I must confess however, that I got lost in clicking pictures of the historical artifacts near the temple and what I recollect today is the cute stone idol of Nandi (Shiva’s bull) that the Chaturmukhi (four faced) Shiva seems to be gazing at from inside the temple .
Another fascinating place around Kausani is the ancient Baijnath temple complex, with the main temple housing a beautiful idol of Parvathy, consort of Lord Shiva. The complex was built by the Katyuri kings and also has smaller structures which are supposed to house idols of several other gods but, which are empty now. An interesting addition to the temple is a stream (Binwa kund) nearby, teeming with fish eager to grab all the food they can get from visitors. Predictably, the kids had to be dragged away from this spot.
We stayed in Kausani for two nights and I would love to say that we finally managed to catch a glimpse of the peaks glittering in the sunlight – but, that was not to be. So, second time lucky?
Kausani is a hill resort in Uttarakhand, well known for its excellent views of the 350 km stretch of the Himalayas. Peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Panchachuli can be seen on a clear day and Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have called it the ‘Switzerland of India’.
By Air: Pantnagar is the nearest airport.
By Rail: Kathgodam is the closest railhead.
Private taxies or Uttarakhand state transport buses will take you to Kausani from the airport or railway station mentioned above
By Road: Kausani is well connected to the major cities of India
There are several hotels and lodges – the price often dependent on the view and other amenities like availability of hot water in the room etc. You could choose from Krishna Mountview Mountain Resort, Suman Royal Resort, Himalayan Village Resort, Pine Havens, Pratiksha Himalayan Retreat, Kausani Best Inn and Blossom Hotel and Resort, among others.
Things to do
Must dos are Baijnath Temple and Bageshwar. You could visit the Anasakti Ashram or go to a tea garden. Rudradhari Falls and Cave and Someshwar, both of which are on the Kausani-Almora route, also make for an interesting trip.