The Jewels of Kumaon

“Welcome to Uttarakhand – The Land of Gods”, said the board that stretched across the NH 87 as we drove into the northern state of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand in more ways than one is a land that bewitches with its charm. It is a land that seems to have been handcrafted by divine hands. A land that gives birth to two of India’s most sacred and venerated rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna.

We were thrilled as we entered the hallowed land of this pristine state which was embellished by the presence of the snowy Himalayan peaks that stretched across it like an exquisite necklace of pearls. Uttarakhand is divided into the regions of Garhwal and Kumaon. Garhwal is well known and has many famous tourist and pilgrimage destinations that attract hordes every year. But Kumaon is the region that is relatively lesser-known and untouched and has many pristine places that retain their earthy charm.

The name Kumaon conjures up images of man-eaters and Jim Corbett, but that is now history though the Bengal Tiger still roams the jungles in the Jim Corbett National Park. Kumaon has much more to offer and is a complete indulgence for the senses. The region uncovers a hitherto hidden dimension at every bend in the road. A drive through the Kumaon region is in itself an experience that soothes and calms the nerves as one feels the sublime beauty of nature all around. The region comes alive to the music of cascading waterfalls, the meandering flow of rivers, and the chirping of exotic Himalayan birds. Ethereal and somnolent lakes blend with mythical and mysterious temples to bathe Kumaon in an aura of beauty and mystique.

Here we string together a few of the gems from the treasure chest that is Kumaon, gems that exude purity and are still not overrun by the footfalls of tourists.

Kausani – A Window To  The  Himalayas

A great place to wake up in, Kausani is literally a window to spectacular and panoramic views of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. Kausani orchestrated nature’s symphony to ecstatic proportions. The sight of the silvery Himalayan peaks like Trisul, Nanda Devi, and Panchachuli bathed in the golden glow of the rays of the sun is nothing short of nirvana.

The beauty of Kausani touched the core of Mahatma Gandhi’s heart and he called it, ‘The Switzerland of India”, he wrote that he felt the greatness of the Himalayas only after viewing them from Kausani. Mahatma Gandhi spent some time in the picturesque hill station of Kausani in the year 1929. He wrote a commentary about Anasakti Yoga from the Bhagavad Gita during his stay in Kausani. It is interesting to note that it was in 1930 that Mahatma Gandhi launched the historic Dandi March. Where the seeds of the Dandi March sown in his mind during his stay in Kausani?

The intoxicating air of the Himalayas fills the serene town of Kausani with an aura of romance and beauty that is found in the verses of the great poets of the world. It is no wonder that Kausani is the place where one of India’s best romantic Hindi poets Sumitranandan Pant was born. Kausani is a place that one falls in love with at first sight and wants to spend a lifetime in.

Kausani is located at an altitude of 1,890 metres in the Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand in the Kumaon region. It is about 448 kilometres from Delhi and the nearest airport is the Pantnagar Airport at a distance of about 162 kilometres. 

Sitlakhet – Far From The Madding Crowd

If you are in search of a place that is far removed from the normal hustle and bustle of life and which immediately connects you with nature, then Sitlakhet is the place to head to. A lesser-known hill station that perches high above the town of Almora on the verdant Syahi Devi hills, Sitlakhet overlooks the Himalayan ranges and is a small hamlet ensconced in the midst of Deodhar and Pine forests and embellished with luscious and exotic fruit orchards. Colorful flowers bloom merrily as one treads the hilly paths that are carpeted with dry pine leaves.

Silence reigns supreme in the environs of Sitlakhet and is only broken by the sound of your own feet, the rustle of the wind, or the melody of the mountain birds. The place is so secluded and tranquil that if one were to listen carefully one would be able to hear the sound of silence itself. Sitlakhet is a place for quiet contemplation and communing with nature, for long walks in the woods while listening to nature’s music.

Sitlakhet was a place whose beauty once enchanted the British with its charm. One can find the legacy of the British Raj in the form of some old British mansions that have stood the test of time in the vicinity of Sitlakhet. An ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Syahi Devi atop the mountain peak adds to the varying charms of Sitlakhet.

Sitlakhet in Almora district of Uttarakhand is located about 323 kilometres from Delhi and 31 kilometres from Ranikhet. The nearest airport to Sitlakhet is Pantnagar Airport at a distance of 147 kilometres.

Nanakmatta – A Picture of Serenity

White egrets swoop down gracefully on the emerald paddy fields glistening with morning dew. The melodious strains of Gurbani soothe your ears as you approach the Nanakmatta Sahib, a Gurudwara that is associated with the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. The small village that has developed around the historic Gurudwara is also named as Nanakmatta.

The village of Nanakmatta is said to have been sanctified by the presence of Guru Nanak Ji sometime in the early 16th century as well as by the visit of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji.

As you enter the precincts of the Gurudwara you are engulfed in waves of serene bliss. The white structure of the main Gurudwara is surrounded by massive courtyards on either side. The back of the Gurudwara has an ethereal-looking Sarovar that adds to the tranquility of the place. The place reminds you of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, but Nanakmatta appears more pristine and untouched by the footfalls of tourists.

Nanakmatta is located in the Uddham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand and is about 294 kilometres from Delhi. The nearest airport is Pantnagar airport at a distance of about 55 kilometres.

These are just three of the varied jewels from the seemingly inexhaustible supply that fills the treasure chest of the beautiful and mystical land of Kumaon in Uttarakhand. A land that is yet unexplored and untouched.  

by : Sandy & Vyjay 

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