This was the first time over many years that I didn’t have a fixed travel plan for this month. Too many options, too many places to visit, too many things to see, to choose one amongst many is a tedious task in itself. Finally, after much thought at the stroke of midnight, me and a friend decided to go to the mountains without having a final destination in mind. All we knew was that we were going to Uttarakhand.
We drove to Nainital first then went to Almora, where a friend who stays there suggested that we go to this small and peaceful village called Kasar Devi. 8 kms north of Almora, Kasar devi is a hidden jewel in the crown of Uttarakhand, it has everything that makes it a perfect getaway for backpackers – budget friendly, accessible, no crowd, good people and beautiful landscape.
What attracts the visitors
Kasar devi is situated on Kashyap Hills and is known for its ancient temple that dates back to 2nd century CE and every year on the occasion of Kartik Poornima, many people come here to worship and attend the Kasar Devi Fair. But that’s not the reason why people know about this place, rather it’s the hippie trail that attracts travelers to this quiet village. Many western travelers and mystics visited and settled down at Kasar Devi. Amongst them were the famous Danish mystic Sunyata Baba, Tibetan Buddhist Anagarika Govinda, American poet Allen Ginsberg, American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, English musician George Harrison to name a few.
What to do when in Kasar Devi
We initially wanted to stay for a night at Kasar Devi but ended up spending three days at this serene place. Though there is nothing much to do here, other than going for a stroll to Crank’s Ridge, also known as the hippie hill and sipping a steaming cup of tea and savoring on homemade cakes from the nearby shops, climbing to the Kasar Devi temple to pay your tribute to the deity or just aimlessly picking a point and start trekking. And if you are one of the spiritual types then go to Buddhist meditation center for meditating.
You can hike to Kalimath [1 Kms] which is one of the 108 Shakti Peeth in India. This temple is much sort after among Hindu pilgrims as this is the only temple where Goddess Kali is worshipped along with her sisters, Saraswati and Laxmi. For wildlife lovers, Binsar sanctuary is an option that they can explore.
Jageswar Mahadev is just 40 kms away and a must-visit. The temple premises house 124 small and large temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. When we went, it had snowed a few days back and the landscape around the temple was so tranquil that I didn’t feel like coming back. Surrounded by huge Deodar trees, Nandani and Surabhi flows down the hill to give a serene feeling to this picturesque place.
How to reach
One can reach Kasar Devi by taking a flight to the nearest airport which is at Pantnagar and the nearest railhead which is Kathgodam. From there go to Almora by bus and then take a shared cab or hire a private taxi for Kasar devi. If you are driving then Almora is just 380 Kms away from Delhi.
Where to stay
We chanced upon a place called Puran`s Cottage and paid 1500 Rs. per day. Other options are Mohan’s Binsar Retreat, Kasaar Jungle Resort and Imperial Heights [Luxury category], Dolma`s guesthouse, Hotel Himsagar [Budget friendly]. Even if you don’t book ahead, you can just go there and find many guesthouses which are not listed online. Kasar devi is an unforgettable place where people come and end up spending their whole lives coming back again and again. The panoramic view of the Himalayas every morning will definitely lure those who are in search of peace and soul-searching.
This article was originally published for The Indian Express, you can read it at: