Most people who do visit Kausani never see more than two things, Anashakti ashram and the view of the Himalayas from the ashram. Those who visit also say that there is nothing much to do there. Maybe there is some element of truth in that statement.
Kausani, a place that made the Mahatma call it “the Switzerland of India”, has one striking thing to go for it as a Hill Station and that is an endless view of the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Other than a couple of months during the year, you are presented with a spectacular panorama of over 300 kms of awe inspiring view of the Himalayas. There is no better place than Anashakti ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi spent a few days composing his treatise “Anashakti Yoga”, to view the elegant peaks of Chaukhamba, Nilkanth, Nanda Gunti, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Khat, Nanda Kot and the Panchachuli.
But within “Ana-shakti” (non-attachment) also lies the secret, in my opinion, of the best way of spending time in Kausani, “doing nothing”. Kausani is the ideal place to lose oneself and disconnect from the daily realities for some time. The beautiful weather, the glorious landscapes of the Himalayas and the idyllic nature of the place beckons your spirit to lie in calmness and serenity. And indeed that is how many of the travellers from out of the country spend their time here. Long walks, relaxing at every turn that offers you a view of the green valley or of the Himalayas, you will run into these travellers spending hours in one place meditating in beckoning silence only interrupted by the chirping of the beards .
One of the best experiences I enjoyed was cycling down from top of Kausani to the Boraro valley, through lush green paddy fields. It was the onset of monsoons last year and once in a while mist clouds brushed over my face giving me an intense cooling sensation.
But Kausani does have a few things to do for the tourist. The Anashakti ashram provides accommodation but constrained with discipline of simple food, early to rise and sleep; and prayers to calm one’s mind. It also has a museum dedicated to the father of the nation with his early photographs and some of his writings.
Within the range of 2-3 kilometers of the central Mall road are routes that lead you to a few other places of interest such as Lakshmi ashram, a center run by the local Kumaoni women who prepare sweaters, gloves, mats etc; the Pant museum, the home of late Hindi poet housing thousands of books collected by him, his writings and a gallery of his photographs; and the Kausani tea factory which is one of the very few producers of the flavoursome Uttarakhand tea.
Eat in the restaurant within one of the many hotels in Kausani and shop local produce like honey, tea and woollen products in the small stretch of mall road at the center of town.
Kausani, being in Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand, is only 19 kms away from the Baijnath temple complex along river Gomti and 42 kms away from the Bageshwar temple town. The Baijnath temples were built by the Katyuri kings around the 9-10 centuries and the Bageshwar temples, located at the confuence of the Gomti and Sarayu rivers, were built by the Chand dynasty kinds around the 14-15 centuries. The Baijnath temples have an interesting magical story behind their origin and are supposed to have been built during the nights using “urad dal” paste for plaster. In addition there is the legend of the stone that can only be lifted by nine fingers and with the chant of “nau” (nine in hindi).
For me now, it brings back memories of standing and experiencing many sunsets each day spreading its colours differently over the mighty mountains creating a kaleidoscopic outburst that is unique each time you see it.
The usual route to get to Kausani is to reach Kathgodam from Delhi by road and then make your way via Bhowali and Almora following the Kosi river by the beautiful lush green Boraro valley to finally reach Kausani. The only way after Kathgodam to Kausani is by road.
Kausani is 139 kms from Kathgodam and 52 kms from Almora
Best time to Visit:
April to June and September to November are the tourist seasons. Be warned that the Himalayas are not usually visible during May and June due to forest fires and July-August are full of heavy rains that cause landslides.
The best views are obtained during the winter months November to March, where the temperature may fall to below zero.
Where to Stay:
There are plenty of hotels in Kausani for different budgets.
The Anashakti Ashram offers cheap housing but the visitor is expected to adhere to their discipline.
The KNVM lodgings are simple, neat and affordable.
I stayed at the Pratiksha Himalayan Retreat which is a kilometer down ahead of the main center, had good rooms and service; and has great direct views of the Himalayas from the rooms.
First Published for The Hindu Traveller