Discussions for a trip on the ‘Independence-Day-long-weekend’ began months back. We had 14th night, 15th, 16th and 17th to put to good use. We knew that we were heading for the hills, what we didn’t know, till just before a week, was that all of Delhi had the same plan in mind.
So, on the 14th I wrote a mail to my boss and the HR that I will need a leave for the 16th (working Saturday..sobs!). My leave got approved because people at WAH values vacations. With a wide grin I went home and started packing. We were going to Uttarakhand and depending on the state of the roads and feasibility we’ll either stay at Almora or further up at Kausani. Accommodations have been booked at both the places. Yes, that’s how we roll!
By 11 pm we boarded the cab, in it were 6 people including me, my sister, my brother-in-law, two more friends and the chauffer. After a few hours in the cab I fell asleep and when I woke up, it was with the sound of raindrops on the hood of the car. We have reached Haldwani. Now we’ll move up hill for the next 4 hours along the narrow winding roads. There are no words to define the beauty of the drenched valley.
I spotted a group of little kids in school uniform running about in the rain, laughing like nothing in the world gives them more joy. The farmers sitting by the side of the road with their umbrellas, a sadhu smoking his chillam and the pristine valley bathing in the downpour had welcomed me into the Kumaon.
As we reached Almora, we called up the guest house where we had our reservations. It was still raining heavily there and we were informed that it will be impossible for us to reach the guest house. The owner also lamented about flooding of the streets outside her guest house and that her kids couldn’t go to school. So, we drove further uphill to Kausani. By the time we reached, the rain had stopped and the temperature dropped below 20 degree C. It took us around 14 hours from Delhi to Kausani after a lazy drive with many halts through the way.
We had a reservation at Hotel Rudraksh, located near the famous Shawl Factory. Shivering our way down the steps we managed to get inside the hotel. The place wasn’t very swanky, in fact quiet basic. However, they did all they could to meet our requests.
Kausani is famous for its panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks, Trishul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli. Also star gazing at the Kumaon sky is a popular activity here. However, the monsoon clouds didn’t give us those pleasures right away.
We barely had any energy left on the first day to go out anywhere. I slept out the afternoon and woke up later in the evening looking for stars in the night sky. But since it had started drizzling again, I had no such luck.
The TV started flashing news of floods and landslides in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. But the hotel staff informed us that the news was exaggerated and it was the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand that was affected and not Kumaon.
The sun was out the next morning but the sky was still cloudy and the peaks were still covered in mist. We didn’t have any specific ‘places to visit’ on our mind, so we started off with the famous Bajinath Temple. The temple is located 16.5 kilometers on the Bageshwar road away from Kausani. On the way to the temple the pristine tea gardens could be viewed. However, if you have seen the tea gardens in Darjeeling and Assam, these may not be of much interest to you.
Bajinath Temple is an ancient Shiva Temple that was built by the Kumaon Katyuri kings somewhere around1150 A.D. The moment you enter the premises of the temple you can see boards by theASIthat talks about the heritage of the temple. Right in front of the temple flows river Gomti lined with a series of Ghats. The river isn’t very deep here; you can step down in the waters if you want. The waters are filled with fishes and you can feed them ‘machli ka chara’ that you’ll get outside the temple. It’s quite a sight to see the huge fishes gathering to nibble on the chara that you throw at them.
It was lunch time when we left Bajinath. So, we drove around the slopes looking for a good restaurant. There aren’t many cool restaurants and cafes in Kausani like other hill stations. So, we decided to go to one of the properties of Chevron, The Mountain Villa. It is the most famous hotel in Kausani and we were quite sure that they would have a pretty decent restaurant.
The view of the entire valley from Mountain Villa is absolutely stunning. Even though they didn’t have a restaurant, the person in charge insisted us to stay and have lunch cooked in their kitchen. They made us special Kumaoni chicken, the flavour of which I couldn’t really decipher.
After lunch, we decided not to visit anymore of the famous tourist spots and stop at anywhere we wanted to. It was then we found the prettiest meadow I have ever seen in my life. The sheer silence of the place will bring a smile on your face. All you can hear is the sound of crickets, cows grazing and the gushing of a stream somewhere nearby. This was by far my favourite spot in Kausani. I wanted to spend my entire day sitting there under a tall tree, reading a book. There after we sat by a small creek that we found on our way back and enjoyed some quality time with nature.
On the morning of our third day in Kausani, at 6 AM, I heard a loud knock at the door of my room. I got up to find one of boys of the hotel. He super excitedly pointed towards the hills. At first with my sleepy eyes I saw the normal view of the green valleys and clouds hanging above them. He asked me, “Do you see the Trishuli?” I looked properly the next time and saw the magnificent snow cladded white summits of the Himalayas. It’s the stunning Trishul peak that stands out tall and proud. I can definitely call it as one of the most breath-taking sights I have seen. Soon all the others woke up, scrambling with their SLRs and DSLRs busily clicking pictures. After an hour or two of enjoying the view we all went back to bed for another couple of hours.
We left after lunch at around 2PM and hoped to reach Delhi late at night. But due to a massive road block in Nainital we were delayed by hours. There was nothing, however, that could spoil my mood after this refreshing and wonderful trip.
Kausani can be referred to as one of the offbeat spots in Uttarakhand. The primary attraction of the place is the panoramic view of the three summits of the Himalayan range viz. Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchchuli. It’s a quaint little hill town, untouched by urbanization. No café culture, no nightlife, not many activities- go there to relax, unwind and breath in some fresh hill air.
Where to stay:
There aren’t many luxury accommodation options in Kausani. However, hotels, resorts and guest houses of various price ranges can be found.
What to eat:
There are numerous tiny restaurants in Kausani dotted across the valley but the food is mostly quiet basic and prices are steep. We preferred the food at our hotel where the chef cooked according to our requests.
What to do in Kausani?
Local sightseeing includes Anasakti Ashram or Gandhi Ashram (1 km), Kausani Tea Estate (3 km towards Bajinath) and The Shawl factory.
Rudhradhari Waterfall and Caves are famous tourist spots. Located 20 km from Kausani, this trip requires half a day and involves moderate hiking of 1-2 km. Trail is picturesque and lush green with pine lines.
Burha Pinnath is an ancient miniature Shiva Temple located on a hill top. Located 5.5 km away from Kausani, It’s a wilderness trekking trail that requires one whole day.
Bajinath Temple, located 19 km from Kausani, is a 12th century Shiva temple. It is situated on the bank of the Gomti River.