If the artist inside you yearns a land where your mind will be free to wander and augment some soulful creative inspiration, then put on your backpack and head on to the unknown hilltop town, Kasar Devi. Driving pass the horse-shoe hill town Almora the unknown habitat that is far away from the blaring and crammed tourist spots is Kasar Devi. Kasar Devi resides a couple of kilometres away from Almora in Uttarakhand. Kasar Devi derives its name from the Kasar Devi temple. Cooped into the ancient and heavenly dense deodar and pine woodlands are steps that lead up to the 2000-year-old temple. Dedicated to the Goddess Devi, the Kasar Devi temple overlooks the soaring ‘abode of snow’ or as we famously know them, the Himalayas. It has been into two parts. One is the Devi temple, and the other is of lord shiva. The main shrine of Devi is inside a cave-like formation. Inside the cave is an Akhand Jyoti (an everlasting flame that has never died down). The havan kund present inside the temple burns for 24 hours, where the ashes released are said to cure any illness. People from various parts off the world travel here to seek a pinch of calm and tranquillity among themselves.
The serene, calming wind and the surreal view of the unknown hilltop village Kasar Devi has been known to be visited by many notable personalities of the world.
Numerous artists, poets, writers, and spiritually inclined people have marked a vital presence in this little holy town. Centuries back, this holy abode was visited by the great spiritual leader Swami Vivekanand who meditated on top of the hill in the year 1890. Kasar Devi became famous after his visit. He mentioned about the healing powers of this beautiful place elaborately in his book after which it became recognised and popular to people all around the world. The meditational and religious practices that were performed by him have been elaborately mentioned in his book. Apart from Swami Vivekanand, the place has also been visited by other famous personalities such as the American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, British singer Cat Stevens and American poet Allen Ginsberg are also known to have been travel here for a peaceful and spiritual time on top of the Kasar Devi temple.
The American psychologist Timothy Leary who was fired from Harvard University for promoting the usage of psilocybin, a form psychedelic drug to graduate students visited Kasar Devi as he firmly believed that the holy hilltop had some form of special cosmic energy. The energy has been known to be the key reason behind the medicinal powers of Kasar Devi. This form of energy has only been found in two other places. The first being Machu-Pichu in Peru and the other Stonehenge in England. Just outside Kasar Devi is a ridge covered with pine trees that are popularly called the Hippie Hill by locals. The place is also called the Crank Ridge, after Timothy Leary in 1960 streaked on the ridge at the time of the hippie movement.
The majestic air that seeps into the valley has also been visited by one the greatest mind of the west, Ernst Lothar Hoffman. Later known as Lama Anagarika Govinda, he was a Buddhist monk and an annotator of Buddhist inscriptions. He and his wife Li Gotami an Indian poet and writer stayed at Evans-Wentz’ house in Kasar Devi for a brief period. Walter Evans-Wentz, an American anthropologist was a student and a preacher of Tibetan Buddhism who also stayed in Kasar Devi for some time. During the stay of Lama Anagarika Govind and his wife they organized a Tibetian refugee centre and a monastery. Kasar Devi was also visited by Sri Madhava Ashish who was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri in 1992 for his contribution in the field of environmental education. Other people such as Tiziano Terzani, the Italian writer whose most famous writing is ‘The End is My Beginning’. After being detected with cancer, spent many years here meditating, and recording his experience in his writings while residing in a small hut in Kasar Devi. English writer, D.H. Lawrence, the author of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ also spent two years here seeking creative inspiration. Our first prime minister, Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru spent his vacations in Kasar Devi and Binsar.
One of the glorious seven wonders of the world, Machu Pichu for centuries has been known as the centre of the magnetic force of the Earth. Millions of people travel to the “Lost City of the Incas” for its sacred energy that its visitants boost. The powerful energy has been said to be derived from an energy vortex called the Kundalini energy. The energy influences the mind into a spiritually inclined serene place. The energy can also be compared to the chakras of a human being. The Intihuatana and the Sacred Rock are two of the highest radiation points where people have felt the electromagnetic energy in Machu Picchu.
Built around 5000 years ago, Stonehenge is much more than gigantic rocks in a barren field. The iconic pillars of Stonehenge lie at the centre of complex magnetic power. A magnetic prospection was used around the Stonehenge stones to access the abnormality in the Earth’s magnetic field. The Sarsen and Central Trilithons stones present here are said to be like giant electromagnets that are responsible for setting up an energy force.
Apart from the ancient ruins of Machu Pichu and the prehistoric Stonehenge, the Kasar Devi temple is known for its magnetic forces. Famous ecologists have been recorded in saying that the temple comes under the Van Allen belt (zone of charged particles originating from the solar wind, that are held around Earth by its magnetic field). It is known that for the past couple of years NASA scientists have been searching for the reason behind this radiation activity created by the belt and cause of its formation. They have also been amazed by the power the temple holds. Due to which they have also been working towards finding a justifiable reason behind the effect it has on calming the mind and attaining peace that visitors experience here. The magnetism has attracted many famous writers, artists, spiritual leaders across the world for many centuries.
How to reach
The little town doesn’t have any railway stations or airports. So, the nearest airport to Kasar Devi is the Pantnagar Airport. It is situated at a distance of 124 km. One can avail cabs or taxis to Almora. From there, Kasar Devi is merely 8 km away. As for train travellers, the Kathgodam is the nearest railway station with a distance of around 94 km to Kasar Devi. Just like air travellers, you will also have to take a cab or taxi from the railway station to Almora from the railway station.
A road trip is the best option to reach Kasar Devi. Private taxis or government-run buses to Almora that run overnight are one of your best options. There aren’t any direct buses to Almora. So, you can avail buses from ISBT in Anand Nagar, New Delhi. The distance from New Delhi to Kasar Devi is 361 km that will take about 10 to 12 hours to reach Almora. A hike or a cab will land you to your desired destination. UTC provides regular services from Jim Corbett National Park and Nainital to Almora. Distance from the Jim Corbett National Park is 131 km (4-hour drive). Whereas from Nainital, Almora is merely 65 km, a 2-hour drive.
The best time to explore this place is during summers. However, if you can bear the chilly winds in November and February, you’ll surely enjoy the calmness while confined up into a woollen sweater with a hot cup of coffee.
Where to stay?
At Kasar Devi you can experience the luxurious hotel stay like the Imperial Heights Binsar, Kasaar jungle resort and the Himlayan woods. You can also be taken back in time and experience hostel life. Hostels are a budget-friendly accommodation facility that provides travellers with the perfect backpacker appropriate experience. The most famous is the HOTS hostel that has dorms through which the magnificently stunning view of the Himalayas is accessible. You can also opt for popular accommodation experience of a homestay that provides residers with a more localized and comfortable stay.
The cute little cafes sitting pretty on the roadside of Kumaon Devi offers its visitors with various delicious Indian, English and Israeli delicacies from Baba cake, Dolma Restaurant and Mohan’s café. Don’t forget to gorge on the authentic and popular Kumaoni dishes.
Places to Visit Around Kasar Devi
Katarmal Sun Temple
The Katarmal Sun Temple also known as the Bara Aditya Temple is a beautiful sun temple, located around 15 km away from Almora. The temple was built by a Katyuri King, called Katarmalla from whom the temple derives its name. The temple sits at an altitude of 2,116 m. If visiting here, a small walk of mere 3kms crossing Hawalbagh and Matela near Kosi river will land you to the Katarmal Sun Temple. The first sun rays fall on the temple and have said to light up the ancient idols of the gods present inside it and also make the intricate carvings and architecture of the temple more stunning.
Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Surrounded in the comfort of the Kumaun Hills at top of the Jhandi Dhar, is the famous Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary located in Binsar, Uttarakhand. The sanctuary attracts tourists from all over the country for its flourishing flora and fauna. Nature aficionados will get to witness the various variety of trees like the oak and the ruby red rhododendron trees. It is also a habitat for many birds and animals. Forktail, nuthatches, parakeets, Eurasian jays and approximately 180 more kinds of birds can be seen chirping and flapping their wings across the Kumaun Hills. The Himalayan goral, chital, Sumatraonserow, pine martin, grey langur and rhesus macaque are some of the animals that can be seen strolling in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. To enhance your experience, stay at the Binsar Tourist Rest House located inside the Binsar wildlife sanctuary.
Bright End Corner
A stunning piece of paradise is the Bright End Corner. Sunrises and sunsets at this corner peeking through the ginormous snow-peaked Himalayas should surely not be missed. You can also visit the Shri RamkrishnaKutir Ashram and the Swami Vivekanand library and the Vivekananda Memorial where Swami Vivekananda stayed for some time while his journey to the Himalayas. Travellers that seek to visit a place that makes them appreciate the stunning creations of nature should surely visit the Bright End Corner.
Around 35 km away from Almora is the magnificent sightseeing spot called the Zero pint. The Zero point will take you closer to the mountain peaks of the enormous Himalayas with a view of the Kedarnath, Shivling, Trishul and Nanda Devi. Since the point is located inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary you cannot get a more stunning example of nature’s wonderful creation. The stunning view of the snow-capped Himalayas, the Indian Red fox strolling, the Brown-Fronted Woodpecker pecking into the wood and the Eurasian Jay fluttering its wings are just some of the eye-pleasing views that you will get to endure at this point.
Just 2 hours away from Kasar Devi is Tarikhet. Tarikhet is a quaint village located near Ranikhet, apart from its resplendent beauty, the village is also extremely popular for its history. The place is famous for Ganfi Kuti, where the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi Ji resided in at the time of the freedom struggle. The non-cooperation movement, one of the most pivotal acts of freedom was laid here by Bhagirath Pandey by establishing Prem Vidyalaya which was later visited by Gandhi Ji in 1929. If willing to explore Tarikhet a little more, then you can also the auspicious Golu Devta temple that is visited by a huge number of devotees every year.
Nanda Devi Temple
Built by the Chand Rajas, the Nanda Devi Mandir is a Hindu temple of the epitome of Goddess Durga. The temple is situated in Almora and is said to be approximately a thousand years old. Since the goddess was worshipped by the Kumaon and Garhwal kings, you will get to see the intricate architecture of the Kumaoni region. If you are planning to visit the Nanda Devi Mandir around August and September you can also be part of the Nanda Devi fair that has been ongoing for the past 400 years. every year a giant heard of worshippers visit the fair from all over the world.
Gobind Vallabh Pant Museum
The Govind Ballabh Pant Museum or the state museum has been named after the freedom fighter Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant in 1980 for his noteworthy contribution in Uttarakhand’s development. The museum contains handwritten letters by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel to GB Pant during the quest of independence. Prestigious paintings, sculptures, textiles, manuscripts that hold cultural and historical significance are found in the museum.
Simtola, a tiny picnic spot located just 8 km away from Almora is covered with lush green pine and deodar trees. The apt evening to spend camping or picnicking surrounded by a view of rice paddies, giant Himalayas and valleys. This unexplored spot was earlier a granite hill and a diamond mining centre but know is just a quite saint spot.